Using Apps To Help At-Risk Students Achieve Work/Life Balance

Posted by Ray McNulty on 7/18/14 12:30 PM


Mobile devices and tech tools help bridge the gap between financial roadblocks and family obligations that plague at-risk youth. Among the widest ranging resources available, technology often gets overlooked as an educational benefit for low-wage and disenfranchised populations. Studies prove tech tools withstand socio-economic barriers, and rather, create opportunities among communities otherwise left behind.

According to the Pew Research Center, members of low-income households access the Internet via mobile devices instead of home connections and are therefore more likely to take advantage of mobile data functions. Additional research reveals that three quarters of U.S. adults living in poverty have cell phones, and also that smartphone penetration is higher in minority communities where the poverty rates are higher.1

Though technology continues to improve in accessibility and offers an approachable knowledge-base across varying scopes of life, little is done to drive educational awareness through technology among troubled teens. Driving change for non-traditional students, educators and tech developers across the globe place focus on designing applications that target the factors that put today's youth at-risk for an adverse future. With your guidance, students can learn how to use tech-tools to learn healthy coping mechanisms, organizational habits and engage in positive peer interaction.

Identify Stressors

School, work, friends, and extra-curricular activities are healthy types of stress that force teens to learn coping skills in preparation for adult life. For at-risk students, the added stress of insufficient financial resources, family or neighborhood violence, and lower quality education create dangerous levels of stress, leading to potentially debilitating mental well-being.

Helping students take charge of their emotional, mental, and physical health begins with identifying stressors. Youth who are empowered to make better decisions, instead of being rescued from adversity, develop more confidence in their own decision-making abilities which, in turn, increases the likelihood that they will utilize healthy coping processes and be willing to try new things on their own.2 Help your student identify stress coping mechanisms using the Stress Tracker app.3  The program measures stress levels throughout the day, adds information such as the source of stress, symptoms of stress, and overall mood. The app then uses the recorded data to identify the strongest triggers. You can use these results to guide youth with actionable steps to reduce anxiety and irritability derived from difficult situations.

Organize Priorities

When it comes to difficult or painful situations, the natural sense of “fight, flight, or freeze” response is heightened for youth who have already experienced hardships. Often times, adverse scenarios cause youth to feel impatient, which translates into lost interest and reduced concentration and willingness to react. When students express being too overwhelmed with school obligations, instinct tells them to shut down and choose avoidance over action. If keeping track of classes, homework, and studying becomes overwhelming, helping students prioritize schedules gives them a sense of control, accomplishment, and security that encourages motivation.

Apps like My Class Schedule help students keep track of exams, records homework progress, and offers a calendar timetable for daily events. Students can use the app to self-motivate with the grade overview feature to keep tabs on progress reports. They can also use the program to automatically mute their phone during class for undivided learning. Students involved in a high school completion program can use the specialized Study Planner Mobile App to sync their Penn Foster curriculum and customize their individual study plan.

Support System

A college degree is the equivalent credential in today’s job market of a high school diploma a generation ago. For students entering their final year of high school, it’s imperative to keep the momentum going. And, since more than 35 percent of dropouts give up during the senior year,4 negating obstacles that can thrust them back into destructive behaviors takes a strong support system.

To attain this significant milestone, students benefit from a sense of belonging to the community. But, for this group, the struggle lies in finding a community of supportive peers and family members.

This can be especially frustrating for first-generation high school graduates and college students. Directing your students to use apps like I’m First, first-generation college students and high school graduates can join an online community of peers who share their same journey. It provides virtual space they can turn to for inspiration and motivation from youth just like them. They’ll have opportunities to hear and share success stories, discover colleges that care about first-gen students, find answers to questions about college, and receive guidance on the road to and through college.

What do you think of these Apps and how they can help students? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.

Resources: Photo (1) (2) (3) (4) ttp://

Topics: Dropout Crisis, High School Completion, Opportunity Youth, Public & Private High Schools


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