Institutions must ensure the quality of services they provide, as well as the flexibility and accessibility they are delivered with, make for a positive student experience
Post-secondary institutions are not the same as they were two years ago; the widespread adoption of remote/hybrid learning models being a major development, among others.
With all of this change in recent years, have other aspects of the student experience, including the many necessary administrative services, caught up?
Many experts are saying focus must turn to reimagining the student experience to meet the needs of today’s students, which have also changed greatly.
The Importance of Streamlining the Student Experience
The student experience embodies much more than just the quality of education received, and many of the services provided by schools play a key role in setting students up for success; including the admissions office, registrar’s office, student advisory services, financial assistance services, and others.
As a whole, the student experience is vital in building trust between students and their school, and ensuring students receive the support they need from their school, especially for those in community colleges who often require additional support to be able to afford their education and make it fit with their existing work or parenting schedule.
With these services being so essential to supporting students and ensuring continued enrollment – most notably in schools who operate on a year-to-year basis that have an added focus on ensuring continued enrollment– there is a great need to increase accessibility and streamline any and all of these services wherever possible.
Many offices responsible for these student services are still reliant on outdated systems, for example, paper-based ticketing systems to manage students queuing or manually booking appointments by email.
Additionally, very few of them provide the flexible options needed today, like remote-delivered services, and even fewer of them leverage the tracking capabilities available today to manage digital queue systems.
These outdated methods of service delivery do not provide the accessibility and flexibility needed by the students of today, and furthermore, do nothing to address the increased health and safety needs of staff and students required in today’s post-secondary institutions.
Streamlining Student Services with Technology
As colleges and universities look for ways to streamline and improve access to their student services, what are the technologies that could have the biggest impact?
Here are a few examples of software solutions that could have the biggest impact on the delivery of student services.
Appointment Scheduling Software: Rather than relying on manually scheduling appointments with students via email, with a modern appointment scheduling software, students will be able to choose a location, date, time, and service that best fits their schedule and automates the check-in process, while also permitting students to cancel or change appointments without needing to contact staff. This allows for greater predictability so that you can better manage your resources.
Screening Technology: Too much of staff time is often taken up by gathering information from students once they arrive at their appointment. By instead implementing technology that can gather this info before students book their appointment, you can not only streamline your operations, but also allow staff to serve a student’s needs immediately, instead of investigating during the service.
Digital Queueing: This area of technology has potential not just to modernize your student services, but also to facilitate health and safety guidelines at a time where they are more important than ever. With a modern digital queuing solution, students will be enabled to get in-line remotely — via SMS text, mobile app, or website — and will be provided customized forecasted wait times. All of this allows you to ensure students never have to wait on-site, allowing for social distancing where needed and an overall safer student experience.
Creating a Roadmap to Adopt New Tech
Before schools can adopt new technologies into their operations, it is essential they go about this in the right way, with a roadmap planned out and adhered to.
This comes down to three key steps — discovery, consideration, and implementation — and each comes with their own best practices to ensure the best technology is adopted and is implemented in a manner that works for everyone.
Discovery: Review your current operations and pinpoint any operational deficiencies you see that hinder the student experience. Several examples may include long lines for services, unclear check-in process, or a lack of a digital appointment scheduling tool. With this covered, ask some of your staff if there was software they have used in the past that might be helpful, do a little research, and narrow your choices down to a few top contenders.
Consideration: With a few options in mind, it is time to dive into some of the deeper research to really get down to which tech solution is your best fit. This can be done with online research into various industry publications and peer blogs to see what is working best for others in your sector. Another useful strategy can be to conduct student surveys to gain a better understanding of what they would like to see included in any solution’s functionality.
Implementation: Now that you have chosen the right solution, the time has come to implement it into your operations. This can be a process that will require patience from everyone involved, and students appreciate open communication, so launching a marketing campaign to bring awareness and educate students on what this will bring with it can be essential in ensuring a stress-free transition.
The Future of Student Services
As school administrators evaluate their student services, it is vital they are looking to the right tech provider, as the right solution can have profound effects on your operational efficiency and student satisfaction levels.
With the right solutions implemented into their operations, colleges and universities can achieve a 50% reduction in attrition rates, a boost of up to 75% in student satisfaction, and a reduction in operating costs of up to 45%.
These improvements can be a game-changer, and colleges and universities will want to ensure the quality of services they provide, as well as the levels of flexibility and accessibility they are delivered with, are in line with the needs of today’s students.