Enlighten is a mobile application created for first-generation college-bound students to learn about different colleges and resources to make the college application process less daunting.
Many first-generation college-bound students lack the information and resources needed to apply to colleges. The process can be even more daunting for first-generation students as they have to learn how to apply to FAFSA, research colleges, and learn how to create an impressive college application on their own. While there are resources with information about a college’s rank and general statistics, there are little to no resources that contain narratives from first-generation students or specific information that address the questions and concerns these students have while navigating through the college application process.
Enlighten was created to address the problem at hand. With Enlighten first-generation college-bound students will have access to college information catered to both their needs and preferences along with articles that clarify concerns that these students might have when searching and applying to colleges. Enlighten’s goal is to bridge the knowledge gap between first-generation college-bound students and their counterparts with a mobile app that gives access to the information they need.
I first started out researching the obstacles first-generation college-bound students face when searching for colleges. I interviewed 5 first-generation college students and asked about their experience with the college application process and what they wish they would have known before entering college. Some of the reoccurring needs included the existence of psychological support and academic support on campus and frustration about what career opportunities were available. From my research, I wanted the ability to search for colleges or articles to be as intuitive as possible on the app. Below you will find a user persona example based on my findings.
After some evaluation and iteration, I proceeded to create my wireframes with Sketch. After going through user testing and receiving feedback, I changed some aspects to better suit the needs of my audience. I received plenty of feedback on including information about average student loan debt per school and to make the Saves section icon more intuitive to let the users know they are able to save articles and schools. I proceeded to change the name of the Saves section to Favorites along with its icon.
After the feedback I received, I proceed to create the UI design of the app with Sketch. One of the biggest challenges I faced was making sure a college’s information did not feel overwhelming and that the information included was meaningful. I decided to pair certain majors with the career of the month on the Insights tab. This encourages users by giving them the knowledge of what profession they could pursue and what majors would take them down the right path. Below you can see my prototype in action.
After prototyping my high fidelity mockups and having users test it again, I received more feedback in terms of content. The users wanted to have more information on gender ratios, average class sizes, and professor to student ratios. The incorporation of a scholarships section with listings of scholarships for first-generation and/or minority students was also brought up. I thought this was a great idea, and now I have to see how the incorporation affects the overall app.