Finding friends can be a struggle for new students at a university as large as MSU, but an app developed by professional writing senior Zoe Zappitell and alumna Brittney Urich has come along to help with that problem.
Zappitell, president of the Women in Entrepreneurship student group, wanted to develop an app that would help students connect with each other, so she created the event-based app Conecter that helps students find people on campus who share their interests.
“So the whole idea is I can create an event — say I want to go running and I don’t have anyone to go running with,” Zappitell said. “My event will go live for everyone at Michigan State University and then other people can RSVP. So I’m finding friends based off of activities I want to do, so whether it’s a tailgate, a hangout, playing a video game, playing basketball. It’s a great way to get connected to everyone on campus.”
It’s not uncommon for college students to struggle with loneliness, stress and anxiety. Six out of 10 college students are clinically lonely, but William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology, said social events can be a great way for students to combat these feelings.
“I think having a regularly scheduled social event of some sort, even if it’s coffee with a friend or a study group session, so something that doesn’t detract completely away from — so if you’re stressed about an academic pursuit and your answer is usually to sequester yourself away, maybe doing some sort of study group exposes you to people, but then also quells whatever is causing you anxiety,” Chopik said.
Since Conecter debuted earlier this semester, Zappitell said the free app, which is currently available online and for iPhones, has been “extremely successful.”
“We’ve already doubled our users in the last week and a half which has been phenomenal,” Zappitell said. “We’ve brought on thousands of freshmen, and they’re using it like crazy. A big help was MSU Athletics, of course. So athletics is so big on campus, and everyone’s so passionate about the football games and the basketball games. So to have them partnering with us, posting about us, being on our app and posting all of their events, whether they’re big or small, has been massive, and everybody wants to know about that.”
At more than 2,000 users and growing steadily every day, there’s something for everyone on Conecter.
“All the events are changing everyday,” Zappitell said. “We have about five to 10 events added every single day. So on the weekend, you’ll see a lot of parties and tailgates, but on the weekdays, you’ll see a lot of lecture series and UAB events and everything of that nature.”
Conecter has benefited greatly from having partnerships with the university. MSU Athletics has an account and regularly posts events along with the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Music.
“So we have these verified college accounts, which are awesome for students because not only are they getting connected for social reasons, but it’s helping them academically,” Zappitell said. “So those partnerships and creating those partnerships throughout this campus has been really important, and by the end of the semester we expect to have a lot more of those verified accounts on.”
Conecter is steadily growing at MSU, and Zappitell is already looking toward the future of her app.
“We opened up at Western (University), so now we’re slowly getting people on at Western,” Zappitell said. “So we’re going to open it up to other Big Ten schools in the coming months, and we’re seeing people coming on and getting really excited. So it’s expanding it to other universities while getting really connected at this university because this is our home base.”
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