On campuses nationwide, students and alumni are spending more time — and doing more things — on their phones. From discovering events and buying tickets, to engaging at events, mobile devices have changed the game. So how can you use this to your university’s advantage?

First, a quick snapshot of how college students are behaving today:

Currently, the vast majority of US students have smartphones. At 87% penetration, student smartphone ownership now slightly edges out laptop ownership.1  This is the place they access information — and they aren’t just looking up their class schedules. Students (like many of us) spend a lot of time on social media, so naturally this will be a critical way for you to share information and news. Another key thing to keep in mind: Facebook is still the leader when it comes to hours spent on social media. So while you may feel a lot of pressure to keep on top of the latest social channels, don’t worry if you haven’t tackled Instagram or Pinterest just yet.

An interesting stat to consider: according to a recent report from UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute that surveyed over 10K students, 55% of first-year college students feel isolated from campus life.2  This is a sobering reminder that there is still a huge opportunity to strengthen campus culture — and events are a pivotal way through which we can do this.

Security & Compliance through Mobile Technology

Universities have increasingly made mobile tech part of their communication, community-building, and alumni engagement strategy. But mobile technology should also be part of your security and compliance goals — here’s how:

1. Eliminate the cash box

One of the biggest benefits mobile brings to universities is increased payments security. Many universities are currently still reliant on cash boxes, which have many associated drawbacks:

  • Risk of theft
  • Zero tracking on payment ownership once cash enters the box
  • Tedious sign in/sign out and storage procedures required
  • Students may turn to peer-to-peer payment methods such as Venmo and Paypal if they are not enabled with a mobile payment process. While still PCI compliant, peer-to-peer mobile payment apps lock the university out of visibility into event-related transactions

Given these numerous risks associated with cash payments, universities should seek to reduce cash usage by enabling mobile credit card payments for event ticket sales. A strong event technology partner will provide card readers to universities and students, making it easy to accept credit card payments directly from a smartphone.

2. Reinforce university policy

Mobile technology can also help you reinforce university event policy. Particularly with larger campus events such as formals and parties, students may bring external guests and buy tickets for them at the door. If your university has a policy that limits or restricts external guests from attending student events, the mobile box office is an important way to gain visibility and control over the last-minute guests that are attending student events.

3. Increase transaction visibility

Another key use for mobile is to centralize all payments transactions under one account. This is particularly helpful for fundraising and political events. If your university has a fundraising or donation policy, selling tickets and accepting donations through one account will help you understand the nature of transactions occurring at events, and whether it is compliant with policy. Even if students don’t have a credit card, their cash transactions can still be tracked and consolidated alongside credit card payments under one centralized view.

4. Increase control

And finally, you can use mobile to increase control over the large event experience at your university. For concerts, spring flings, or performing arts events, mobile event apps allow any smartphone user to become a gatekeeper to check attendees into the event. You can create multiple entry points to improve event flow, and also understand event attendance relative to venue capacity.

To learn more about how technology can help you engage with students and alumni, download our free guide — The Ultimate University Event Technology Checklist.

Source: Student Monitor, “Student Monitor: Fall 2014,” Dec 20, 2014
Source: November 2014 Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) and Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at UCLA report titled “Your First College Year.” 10,170 US first-year college students were surveyed online and via questionnaire at the end of their first year, in Spring 2014.