NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

College Students Build Innovative Apps

September 2, 2014

The New York Times reports that college students across the country are finding new ways to make college information systems easier to use, building apps that their classmates can access on their smartphones.

Ariel Kaminer reports that Rutgers University student Vaibhav Verma was getting annoyed that he could not sign up for his college's most popular classes. His response? He built a web application that constantly checks the school's class registration system for openings. As soon as someone dropped the class that Verma was interested in, the app sent him a message, allowing him to enroll before someone else snatched up the spot. In just one semester, Verma had 8,000 classmates using his tool.

Verma's experience is not unique, and many university students are finding ways to take school information systems and make them easier to access, sort and view.

  • Students have built scheduling programs that allow students to search for classes at specific times and filter their results with a number of details, such as classes without prerequisites or those that go towards their major.
  • Other apps have been built showing students the fastest way to get from one class to another across campus.
  • At the University of California, students built a scheduling application that was so successful that the school decided to use it themselves.

Some of these programs have caused conflict with school officials, many of whom are wary of giving out course data, but others have been willing to collaborate with students. When Berkeley students Alex Sydell and William Li created a website called Ninja Courses, the college was so impressed that they paid them for the development.

Source: Ariel Kaminer, "Student-Built Apps Teach Colleges a Thing or Two," New York Times, August 27, 2014.


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