Campus Quad: Transforming How University Students and Administrators Connect and Communicate on Campus

If you ask college students from across the U.S. how they got involved in their campus community, a common theme emerges – it was chaotic and difficult.  Many will cite resources such as list-serves, campus posters, word-of-mouth and Facebook and they will also describe them all as noisy, impersonal and ineffective.

We created Campus Quad with one core mission – to deliver a transformative mobile communication network designed exclusively for colleges to help students engage in campus life and navigate a more meaningful path to graduation.

Today, on nearly all of our college campuses, there is a major communication gap between students and the administration.  Students arrive at school fully immersed in an app-driven mobile world of texting, photo sharing and location-based services.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re shocked and disappointed to discover their college is still using paper posters, 30-year old list-serves and external social media channels flooded with mass amounts of information that hold no relevancy to their campus life.  Universities also tend to rely heavily on email as the major avenue of campus-to-student communication.  This, too, is a dead-end as students simply don’t use email so valuable campus information languishes untouched.  This gap will continue to widen as the generation raised on mobile hits colleges this year and next.

From a business perspective, the college mobile engagement market is ripe for innovation, particularly within the mobile enterprise sector.  Sure, universities can use popular social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, however, these platforms are not private and perhaps even more important, the rich and meaningful engagement data remains locked in the proprietary “black box” owned by those corporations.

This is where Campus Quad solves a real and universal pain point.  It connects students and administration in real-time with a mobile communication network that resonates with the “always connected” lifestyle that students have become accustomed to and are highly proficient with using.  In essence, we help universities speak the social mobile language of the generation they serve and give them a critical lens – both macro and micro — into their student body.  Campus Quad is the first mobile communication network that collects ancillary engagement data then returns that information in useful analytic dashboards that enable universities to assess and measure students’ engagement and experience.  It has become invaluable in helping universities improve and enhance student resources and services.

Students get started on Campus Quad simply by creating an individual profile on their smartphone and joining their university’s exclusive Campus Quad community.  This allows them to instantly see and tap into what’s happening around them by selecting student leaders, clubs, campus services and campus organizations they would like to “follow.”  An “Explore” feed also displays all campus event flyers and photo streams by time and location so students can easily discover new avenues of interest, too. The benefit to the students is immediate as they have the pulse of the university community in the palm of their hand.

Staff, administrators and faculty are equally excited about Campus Quad.  Even the most established campuses share one common challenge — the struggle to connect and communicate with students about campus resources, events and important academic deadlines. Campus Quad provides one unified communication platform to reach students instantly and directly on their mobile phone.  From content creation and mobile delivery, to broadcasting to campus websites and external social media channels, Campus Quad allows administrators to access student engagement data via a web-based dashboard and summarize essential information at-a-glance.

Campus Quad welcomes the listeners of College Smart Radio to visit us at  Whether you are a student or campus administrator, Campus Quad can increase student engagement on your campus.

This post was provided by Frances Cairns, the Founder and CEO of Campus Quad, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on January 4th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Campus Quad

Is It Really Impossible to Get into College These Days?

9436795862_7ef8af87dc_bThere’s no question the students who get the attention of admission officers and do best in the college application process have figured out who they are and what they want.

Be yourself. High school—and the college application process—are about students finding out who they are and what they love — not simply trying to create the image that they’ve heard is going to impress a college.

You may remember a WSJ op-ed last spring written by a young woman — Suzy Lee Weiss — titled To (All) The Colleges That Rejected Me — in which she talked about how colleges “lie to prospective students” by telling them to “be themselves,” when what colleges really want in an applicant is stuffed resumes, an ethnic minority, and “fake charities.”

Aside from illustrating the dangers of the use of satire in the hands of teenagers, the op-ed vividly illustrated the fact that this young woman simply does not understand the true nature of the admission process.

When colleges say, “Be yourself,” they don’t mean, “be a slacker” and they don’t mean “be politically correct.” And it’s certainly not a promise to admit you no matter what. They are simply asking applicants: “tell us the truth about yourself.”  Because, like most of us, colleges value honesty. But also because an admission office needs to know who you really are when it puts together a class that will meet the college’s needs.

Students who ignore their true interests in favor of what they think a college wants are making a mistake — because what a college really wants is to know who they truly are. You do not have to fake it to make it.

One of the reasons applying to college can feel scarier than it has to is that students — and parents, too — believe they can only prepare successful applications if colleges tell them exactly what they are looking for.

So when colleges do not give explicit instructions, students and parents often feel that it must be proof that the process is completely random or rigged in some way.

The truth is that it is not in the colleges’ best interest to tell you what they are looking for. What happens in a college admission office is about putting together a class that meets the college’s needs. It is driven by institutional priorities — a phrase that most deans of admission and college counselors wish that parents understood — and what that means is, admissions are driven by every college’s own self-interest.

Colleges have their own agendas. They are businesses. They have payrolls to meet, facilities to maintain, programs to mount, trustees to satisfy, faculty and staff to keep motivated and happy, and laws to observe. Admission officers have to listen to all of a college’s voices.

So what does that mean?
You have all heard a version of this — that a college wants women engineers or a shortstop. But it’s much more complicated than that. At the highest level: Colleges each have a mission and they meet that mission in different ways. At public universities, of course, the priority is often a mandate from the legislature to educate the best students in the state as defined by GPA or class rank. Private colleges will seek applicants who reflect the characteristics that fulfill their mission statement—which might be leadership, intellectual ability, or dedication to public service.

Then it gets more complicated.
One admission dean said to me, the faculty owns admissions. And it’s not just that the engineering school wants more women, it’s that the math department wants to see conceptual creativity in their incoming students, the political science department wants students who will give professors a run for their money in a classroom discussion, and the biology department wants at least some students who are genuinely interested in biology rather than studying it as a stepping-stone to medical school.

Then the people in student life get a say — they want leaders who will run the student organizations, actors to walk the stage, and students to fill the stands at a football game.

The administration chimes in — they want geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity.

And then there is another layer. Some colleges have cultures and personalities that can become an important part of their admission criteria—perhaps they are seeking quirky intellectualism like Harvey Mudd College in California, international applicants like George Washington University or students who want study abroad or cultural immersion experiences like Goucher College in Baltimore.

So what are colleges looking for? All of the above.
Charged with answering all those voices, with building a class that meets all those priorities, admission departments need to know what the applicants are really like in order to meet that charge.

So even more than impressive test scores and fantastic essays, colleges are looking for authenticity.

This is why it is crucial that students set time aside to think deeply about this next phase of their life: what they want out of college, what they absolutely need to have in a school, what they can and can’t live without for four years. If students are so overloaded with activities and academics that they do not take the time for self-reflection, they are making a mistake. They need to ask themselves the tough questions that help them emerge with a strong understanding of who they are. Because colleges really mean it when they tell students to “Be yourself.”

That’s good news. It’s not about being the perfect candidate. The perfect candidate may be someone who is imperfect but authentic.

This post was provided by Christine VanDeVelde, co-author of the book College Admission: From Application to Acceptancewho was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on December 7th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Jose Mendivil

Advocates For Athletes – Helping Student Athletes Realize Their Dreams

What we do & how we do it, separates us from the rest.

What's your Student Athlete's College Game Plan?

What’s your Student Athlete’s College Game Plan?

  • We are local.
  • We are hands-on.
  • We coach.
  • We educate.
  • We guide.
  • We care!

A4A is different in that we provide a one-on-one, personal approach. We develop a personalized game plan and coach student athletes on the best way to handle the planning and execution of finding the best academic, athletic and social fit. A4A will also help them understand all of the athletic, academic, and financial opportunities available.

Where do you turn? How do you begin? Who do you talk to?

Unless there are college coaches banging down an athlete’s door or even if they are receiving some interest, the college recruiting process can be a very frustrating one. We have found that it is difficult to answer these questions, but through our experience, contacts, extensive research, and proven results, we know that A4A can help.

Established in the Bay Area in 2010, A4A has been working with athletes in 12 different sports and has been welcomed into many local high schools as a recruiting resource for their athletes. One of our many highlights of this past year was having 6 of our football athletes playing against each other in the St. Francis vs. Palo Alto CCS Open Division Semi-Finals.

Advocates for Athletes (A4A) is a local, hands-on consulting and coaching business created to help educate and guide student athletes and their families in their pursuit of a college scholarship and/or admission to a school of their choice because of their sport.

Steve Britschgi, President of Advocates for Athletes, LLC. was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on May 25th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Marnie Stratford

Extracurriculars for College: Climbing the Ladder

Regardless of how a college uses a student’s EA profile, all schools want to see consistency and growth.

Regardless of how a college uses a student’s EA profile, all schools want to see consistency and growth.

No one needs to be told that the past 20 years have seen college admissions becoming alarmingly selective. Where admissions were conducted largely on the basis of grades and test scores, a flawless transcript and near perfect test scores are now necessary but not sufficient components of admission to selective colleges. These days, what tips most students into the college admit pile of is the student’s extracurricular activity profile, or EAs.

EAs consist of more than the clichéd captain of the basketball team and editor-in-chief of the school paper. They’re volunteering, professional research, and everything in between. They help to show commitment to a particular field, demonstrate an ability to lead, and provide evidence to support what a candidate says (and doesn’t say) about herself. Continue reading

Extracurricular Activities for College Success: What College Admission Officers Are Looking For

What extracurricular activities students should focus on?

Transcripts and test scores play the biggest roles in determining college admissions but they’re not the only determining factors. Believe it or not, extracurricular activities can help your student stand out from the crowd. They’re a great way to show a student’s individuality and demonstrate key qualities. But it’s also important to show a student is being thoughtful about what they do with their time. An extracurricular activity shouldn’t be a check in the box but a genuine interest.

Continue reading