is a mobile application that helps Indian students in the end-to-end process of applying to grad schools abroad

-UX Research and Design

Grad Mate

"Grad Mate" is my independent project that emerged from identifying a market gap during my process of applying to graduate schools.

Project Overview

Duration

3 months - Mar to July 2022

Platform

Mobile Application

Tools

Figma

Miro

So, here comes the problem,

The major reason that impedes students in India about pursuing masters abroad is due to lack of awareness about the courses and its corresponding process

  • Lack of awareness about the process

  • Difficulty in choosing the right course

  • Seeking right help for the admission process

  • Difficulties in connecting with right people

Bench Research

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the issue, I initiated my research with a series of user interviews. These semi-structured interviews included both face-to-face and telephonic sessions, each lasting 20 minutes.

Empathezing with the users.

3 user groups

12 interviews

From my personal experience, I split the users into 3 groups.

Group 1

Undergraduate students preparing for master's programs

Group 2

Working professionals planning to pursue masters degree abroad.

Group 3

Students currently pursuing/ pursued masters aborad

6 common themes

I assumed that Groups 1 and 2 would face distinct challenges due to the complexity of applying to graduate schools alongside work commitments. To validate this assumption, I conducted research.

Group 3 provided insights into the specific challenges they encountered during the application process.

Unclear process

The overall process of applying to international graduate schools, from discovering suitable courses and exams to navigating the visas appeared unclear.

Tedious exam preparation

Participants juggled between various resources like websites, PDFs, and YouTube for exam prep (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)

Hard to find online communities

Right now finding the right group is hard. Students mostly relay on Facebook groups and from there they are redirected to join WhatsApp groups.

Finding the right course

8 out of 12 students expressed a desire to pursue a master's degree but were unsure about which course would be suitable for them.

Unreliable consultancies

Participants expressed concern about the legitimacy of consultancies facilitating these processes, leading to apprehension.

Lack of mentorship

Participants tried reaching out to alumni on LinkedIn to learn about universities or courses, but often received no replies.

Surveys to quantify the issue

Based on the qualitative information obtained from the user interviews, I formulated a short survey to gather feedback from a wider audience regarding these pain points.

No idea at all (12)

Were you aware of the process involved in applying for masters abroad during the initial phase?

Had a good idea about process (30)

I know/knew everything about the process (22)

Very Easy (11)

How would you rate the process of finding the student/applicant groups?

Somewhat easier (11)

Difficult (31)

Very Difficult (59)

Yes, I had a basic idea about the process (48)

Self Research

How do you select a masters program that is right for you?

Related to my undergraduate stream

Related to my work experience

I sought help from professionals

53% of participants either had no idea or basic idea about the processs

80% of participants faced difficulties in finding student communities.

60% of participants choose program through their self research

Through affinity mapping, I identified that there were a lot of overlaps between what they wanted and what precisely fell under one of the 6 themes mentioned below.

Competitor Analysis to understand the gaps.

To comprehend the range of services provided by existing products in the market and pinpoint any gaps, I conducted a comprehensive competitor analysis.

112 Responses

Some Intersting stats here!

Based on inputs from the user interviews and secondary research I picked these leading that offer assistance to students applying for graduate programs abroad.

Grad Cafe - Online forum where students post about their admits, scholarship

Yocket - Most commonly used mobile application for international education services and to connect with fellow aspirants

YM grad - Mobile application that focusses more on services than building community.

This analysis provided me with a clear understanding of how Grad Mate can distinguish itself from competitors, ultimately benefiting students throughout the entire process. I endeavored to address any gaps in existing solutions and improve upon current features.

Conceptual model for visualization

After conducting thorough primary and secondary research, I synthesized the findings to create a list of features and design requirements derived from the insights gathered. Additionally, I formulated a conceptual model to visually depict how the product could effectively address each identified user pain point.

Building the information architecture

After conceptualizing the ideas and features, I proceeded to develop the Information Architecture for the project. This involved structuring the content and navigation system to ensure optimal usability and intuitive user interaction. Additionally, I conducted iterative refinement to validate and enhance the Information Architecture based on feedback from fellow designer friends.

Glimpse of my clumpsy interview notes!

Wireframing

After conceptualizing the ideas and features, I proceeded to develop the Information Architecture for the project. This involved structuring the content and navigation system to ensure optimal usability and intuitive user interaction. Additionally, I conducted iterative refinement to validate and enhance the Information Architecture based on feedback from fellow designer friends.

Owing to the unavailability of choices in their native country, students in India remain uninformed of the various paths available to pursue a master's degree.

Two hundred thousand Indian students pursue master's degrees abroad.

-Indian Ministry of External Affairs

Major Features