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UCA offering wake-up calls

New service sends programmable reminders to students by Debra Hale-Shelton | September 13, 2010 at 5:16 a.m.

— Wake-up calls aren’t just for hotel guests anymore. At the University of Central Arkansas, students can now get them for free.

The calls, which started this semester, are part of the UCA student center’s expanded concierge offerings.

Other services offered include reminder calls on anything from a math test to a doctor’s appointment.

Parents also can go to the UCA website and find out how to order balloon bouquets or birthday cakes and have them delivered to their child’s dormitory room.

Hank Phelps, student center director, said the expanded offerings are “a little bit like a concierge at a hotel,” but with a couple caveats.

“I’m not doing laundry. I don’t polish shoes,” he said.

Students wanting the wakeup and reminder calls to their cell phones must sign up for them. UCA does not charge for the calls, which are provided by Snoozester, a Maryland-based company, under a one-year, $11,000 contract with the university, Phelps said.

Students can tailor the calls to fit their schedules - 8 a.m. calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. calls on other weekdays, for instance. They can schedule just one call, or many for the entire semester.

Phelps said that as of Wednesday, 121 UCA students had signed up for Snoozester and had programmed a total of 1,800 calls.

“I don’t know of any other schools doing [such calls] in Arkansas,” Phelps said.

Indeed, a survey of Arkansas’ four-year, public universities turned up none offering such an amenity.

Phelps believes the calls will be especially helpful to freshmen, many of whom for the first time don’t have parents around making sure they get out of bed in time for school.

“Every year it seems like the students are looking for [more] technology,” Phelps said. “They all go to sleep with that cell phone right by their bed.”

Phelps believes students today are “a lot sharper” than when he was in college. But he also believes students today sometimes need a bit more attention than in days gone by.

“I think it’s because of how they’ve been raised,” Phelps said.

“I’ve seen several articles about how this generation came up with the soccer moms driving them all over town. I think they are used to having a little bit more assistance or nudging - encouragement - to do certain things.”

“We want to help the students get to where they’re supposed to be,” Phelps said.

Dr. Lynn Taylor, chief of psychiatry at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, said UCA’s program is “a great idea,” especially for freshmen, if the calls wake students up better than alarm clocks.

“That is a really hard time - the transition to college and being on your own,” she said.

“It might be worse now since kids are so much more dependent on their parents. But it’s been an issue since there were colleges.”

Taylor recalled needing a bit of help in the morning when she was a student. A teacher even “came to my door one time because I was missing my 8 o’clock [class],” she said.

Arkansas, Pages 7 on 09/13/2010

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