Grad Guru app introduces scholarship feature

Grad Guru, an app created to help community college students thrive, recently introduced a scholarship feature for the approximately 3,000 Pierce students who use the app.

Grad Guru was designed by Bill and Melinda Gates to send students notifications about campus news. According to Sunday Salter, the director of the Transfer Center, the app provides incentive for students to participate in Pierce events.

“Grad Guru has [a couple] main functions,” Salter said. “One is to alert students what is happening on campus: deadlines, activities, events and workshops.”

The notifications, sent directly to student’s phones, are customized specifically for Pierce, the first school in the district to use the app. Los Angeles Harbor and Los Angeles City College will soon begin to use it, although each campus will have its personalized notifications.

According to Salter, as it stands, approximately 3,000 Pierce students use the Grad Guru app. The more people who download the app, the more scholarships there are to give. Money will randomly be awarded to students based on their participation in collecting badges. Students can earn badges by completing assessments and the online orientation, meeting with a counselor and finishing IGETC, Salter said.

“Once students collect the badges, then they qualify for things like gift cards, and launching this week, scholarships,” Salter said. “Let’s face it, most of the student population don’t read their emails and don’t look at flyers. This is one way that we thought we could get student’s attention.”

According to Rosa Medrano, transfer mentor, Grad Guru is an essential tool for students hoping to transfer.

“It gives easy access to deadlines for admissions and records and deadlines to submit applications,” Medrano said. “If you are a student looking to transfer, these are all the things you need to know.”

According to Salter, the Transfer Center, which coordinates directly with Grad Guru, knows student habits and the lifestyle of being part of a commuter campus. Their goal is to bring important information directly to students and reward them for being involved through incentives like Amazon and Starbucks gift cards and scholarships.

According to Assistant counselor Akadina Amrekhasadeh, the app gives students instant access to information provided by the Transfer Center.

“A lot of people don’t come in to the Transfer Center, so they don’t have access to all of the brochures,” Amrekhasadeh said. “Grad Guru gives students the access to all this information in the palm of their hand.”

Amrekhasadeh said that Grad Guru provides information about “sports games, campus-wide activity, college fairs and admissions dates like the last day to drop a class or sign up for FAFSA.”

Grad Guru is available in the Apple and Google Play stores and is free to download and use. Salter said the scholarship feature will be available to Pierce students as soon as links and bugs are fixed.