Winning gift cards and scholarships just by doing schoolwork sounds like a dream come true for most students, so why aren’t more students taking advantage of the new studying platform that allows them to do just that?
Circle In is a new app intended to help individuals in college succeed. Promoted as “the best way to stay connected with other students,” in an email from the Center for Student Success, Circle In combines features of multiple different online studying tools into one. Instead of using Quizlet, students can create flashcards in Circle In. Instead of using Zoom or Google Meets, students can host video calls inside the new app. In place of GroupMe, students are automatically connected to mass group chats for each of their different classes as soon as they log onto the platform using their New Paltz login.
The app’s features don’t stop there. Circle In also allows students to create smaller chats for group projects, to share notes with other students, to take notes for themselves and to create task lists in the workflow tab. On top of all of this, each time a student utilizes a feature such as adding a task, sharing a page of notes or collaborating with their classmates, they are able to easily earn points that will assist them in winning gift cards of their choice at the end of each month or possibly even scholarships.
By now, many students are at least somewhat aware of the app’s existence. Either you’ve heard it mentioned by your peers, have had it addressed by your professors, or you’ve seen emails from the Center for Student Success with a subject line like, “CircleIn: You won’t believe what we’re giving away” detailing your chance to win Apple airpods or $500 Amazon gift cards. These offers seem like they would peak the interest of at least a few students.
Yet, according to the in-app “leaderboard” only about 26 students total have been using Circle In. So what’s holding students back?
“I didn’t see the need for it because someone took the initiative to make a GroupMe for all of my classes anyway,” explained third-year sociology major Mal Diouri.
“The majority of my classes are project-based, with a few papers sprinkled in,” said Kevin Merting, a third-year digital media production major. “For these assignments, studying isn’t really possible or important, so the platform doesn’t really serve that type of work.”
“I’d rather just use Zoom or FaceTime since I can’t utilize the other features anyway,” Merting continued.
So even though Circle In combines almost every schoolwork app students can dream of into one place, is it really just a matter of other-app preference keeping Circle In from popularity? Maybe, not quite.
Diouri admits she’d use the app more if she saw other students on it. And it does seem to be a common thread that students can’t actively collaborate with their classmates if there aren’t any students there.
Even second-year international relations and Asian studies major Kailas Ferrari, who is currently at the very top of the Circle In leaderboard, has been running into trouble with this.
“I don’t even talk to my classmates [on the app],” she said, “because no ones really on it.”
“Your classmates are one of your most valuable resources,” said Jessica Delaney, coordinator for the Center for Student Success. “Circle In makes it easy to work together, support each other, and connect, especially in this virtual learning environment.”
Delaney encourages students to speak about it with friends and to hold their next study group or project meeting in the app to expand the amount of student users.
It may be incredibly beneficial if more students begin studying with the app. According to the platform’s website, by using Circle In, 64.4% of students see an increase in productivity, 65.7% find more confidence in their ability to pass their classes, and 80.1% see an increase in academic performance. These factors are precisely the reason why Suny New Paltz decided to offer the platform to students in the first place.
Circle In has the potential to become an incredibly useful tool for students throughout our entire campus community, offering a competitive edge with the feature of earning points and winning gift cards, as well as a collection of studying resources within one app — more students just have to use it first.