Student-designed “app” gives students a playbook for success


Successful U smartphone appAS A FOOTBALL COACH at Ohio State and Youngstown State Universities, Jim Tressel offered a different kind of playbook to his student athletes. It was less about the fundamentals of football and more about the fundamentals of a successful life, providing advice and inspiration in more personal areas for growth (family, spirituality, health, volunteerism, career, etc.).

Now a vice president at The University of Akron, Tressel has inspired a unique playbook for success designed as a downloadable app for the 28,000 students who attend UA.

The Successful U app was developed by a team of UA students who identified the fundamental elements to student success outside of the classroom.

Student Amy Dravecky, a member of the app's development team and a UA graduate student in industrial psychology, believes the app will “speak to students, encouraging them to become well-rounded individuals who play an active role in the world around them. It also exposes students to the full value of what we call The Akron Experience — all the programs and services in place here to help students attain a lifetime of achievement."

Development team members

Kelsey Corle, biology major

Amy Dravecky, industrial/organizational psychology

Stephanie Foster, nutrition and dietetics

Sarah Hartong, music education and flute performance

Andrew Kapish, graphic design

Matthew Mason, communication and psychology

Melanie Offineer, nutrition and dietetics

Misha Peterson, child life

Jon Proch, computer engineering

Deanna Wilbanks, special education

The Successful U app is tailored to each student’s self-identified interests and needs. When a user first downloads and opens the app, it asks about their interests in six areas:

  • academics and career,
  • financial awareness,
  • leadership and volunteerism,
  • personal growth and wellness,
  • health and fitness, and
  • personal relationships.

From there, users can set goals, learn about related campus programs and services, and be inspired by alumni and civic leaders. The app is designed to “push information” to students. For example, if a student is interested in outdoor adventure, she will learn about the opportunity to rent camping equipment from the student recreation center. If the student wants information to improve his fitness, he can browse for diet and work-out tips.

Student developed

The team developing the app consisted of UA students from many backgrounds and disciplines, including business, the arts, communications, and health sciences. They worked with information technology specialists to design the app, and developed marketing and communications plans to raise student awareness of this new and unique resource.

The University of Akron

To download the app, scan the code above or go here: Download Successful U. It is free!

“The one thing that stressed me out the most during my first year at UA was not knowing what resources were available to me or where to find them,” said Misha Peterson, a member of the app development team studying to become a child life specialist. “I would love to be able to somehow improve that for incoming freshmen so they start out on the right foot and aren’t overwhelmed.” App teammate Deanna Wilbanks, who is graduating this year with a degree in special education, had similar altruistic motivations: “I would love to help leave something as amazing as this as my gift to a University that has given me so much.”

App teammate Melanie Offineer is a graduate student in dietetics who hopes her contribution to the app will improve the lives of others: “Wellness is not just physical health, but also mind and spirit. The path to health cannot be traveled without the right fuel and I want to help guide my peers and friends to the best places to fill up!”

Success outside of the classroom

Tressel says the app is designed to supplement the classroom experience, rounding out the total Akron Experience. “Our faculty does a great job of giving students the tools they need to succeed academically. This app guides them to success in other vital areas of their lives.”

Tressel says students had free rein to design the app the way they thought most appropriate and most helpful for other students. He acknowledges that he brought his own coaching advice to the inclusion of financial awareness as one of the six fundamental areas.

“These days, student debt is in the headlines," he said. "We want to make sure our UA students are financially literate and have the resources they need to make smart money decisions throughout their academic years and beyond.”

Available now

The Successful U app, downloadable free on smart phones, tablets and desktops, is accessible with a UAnet ID. Each sublayer in the six foundational areas has an identified hash tag that takes users directly to twitter to join the conversations related to that area.

Any inquiries or suggestions regarding the app should be directed to Cassandra Verardi at


Media contact: Eileen Korey, 330-972-8589 or