The equity gap on the Pierce campus has been an ongoing issue that addresses students who don’t not have the necessary opportunities or the financial means to reach their academic goals.
One solution may be Circle-In, a new study group social media app that rewards students for communicating with their peers and developing good study habits outside the classroom.
Pierce College students can use Circle-in to plan their agenda, post questions and discussions, exchange notes, create and share flashcards and upload documents, make video calls with study groups and form group chats.
Engineering major Romel Melgar said that students receiving support from their peers helps them in the long run.
“The majority of my success in school is communication,” Melgar said. “I think it’s very important to get in touch with your peers and reach out to people when you need help.”
Psychology professor Angela Belden said the app covers all bases for studying.
“This app is an all-in-one study app. And it’s a way to help students to level up their study skills.” Belden said.
These features, if not most, have come from students according to Circle-In’s Director of Innovative Success Mitchell Canfield.
“Almost every feature you see in Circle-In was an idea that a student had created,” Canfield said.
Features include sharing multiple screens on video call, creating separate group chats which can be useful for students who want to communicate to peers within or outside of their class, and much more.
When students utilize all those features and do those several activities, and when done frequently, their actions contribute to a reward system, where students can receive weekly and monthly rewards.
“We run a contest called Circle-In Fridays,” Canfield said. “The focus is going to the feature of the week, where there’s a little banner with a prompt, and you can win a weekly reward.”
For weekly and monthly rewards students can go to the Rewards store and choose up to three brands to receive gift cards and bonuses from such as Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Target, Sephora, etc.
Melgar said he was awarded a gift card while trying the app out during launch week.
“I was super surprised when I got a $50 gift card from Amazon,” Melgar said. “I just posted a question asking if anyone can see my question, I don’t think anyone had the app, and then all of a sudden I got the card.”
Computer engineering major Roberto Santos said although he was skeptical about the app’s promises, he has since received the weekly rewards.
“I’ve gotten an MVP and an Amazon gift card too,” said Santos. “I didn’t really believe it because there’s always scams, but once she got a reward I was like wow it’s actually true.”
MVPs contribute to the scholarship award on the app, where students who receive 8 MVPs between August and December can possibly earn a scholarship valued between $200 to $2000.
Canfield said that funding for the rewards and scholarships comes from the National Science Foundation grant and donations.
“We actually purchase gift cards and provide funding for scholarships, with the help of donations.” Canfield said.
For students who are concerned about their privacy, Circle-In only accesses your class schedule, the features you use and does not allow third party interactions.
“There’s no ads on our platform,” Canfield said. “All we know is your name and what classes you take, so you can be grouped, and you can possibly receive an Amazon gift card, but not get an email from Amazon.”
Belden said that Circle-In is perfect for students to exchange information they’ve learned in class without compromising your personal information.
“This app gives them a platform that is inclusive with all their classmates so that they can get online to engage in study habits.” Belden said.
Pierce student Jesus Gonzalez said that while the app is a great tool, he’d like to see more students use it for it to be successful.
“I think it’s great that it promotes helping each other, and again if no one’s really on it, it defeats the purpose.” Gonzalez said.
Canfield said that Circle-In will help to reduce the equity gap on college campuses.
“The more students that are in Circle-In, the more opportunities there are to get help and be successful,” Canfield said.
Circle-In is free for students to use on their phone or computer.
“It’s a very low affordable cost for your campus but definitely 100 percent free for students,” Canfield said.
For more information about Circle-in check out: CircleIn – The All-In-One Studying Space (circleinapp.com)
Contact Professor of Psychology and Statistics Angela Belden for more information: email@example.com