In our last blog post, we started our look at the top 10 list that EDUCAUSE published for 2022, and the concept of institutional success. Softdocs took a close look at our strategy and revised it based on what has changed and what we have learned from the Pandemic. Now, we take a look at how Softdocs’ solutions help support student success.
Top 10: Learning from COVID-19 to Build a Better Higher Future
The pandemic changed everything and introduced to us a “remote front seat” to the reality of our students’ needs. Every IT team immediately evaluated student access and pivoted to ensure students had technology to participate in class. We had a sudden “Maslow Hierarchy of Needs” as we started re-checking the physiological and safety aspects of students’ lives. (Although admittedly, the physiological level added things like internet access and chrome books as well as making sure those basic needs of food, shelter, and physical/mental health were addressed.) For Student Success, our next questions should be:
- How did you define student success? Was it course completion? Grades of C or above? Participating in student activities? Returning to campus in Fall 2021? Overall GPA remaining stable? After living with the realities of the pandemic for so long, our definitions of student success and trends we looked for pre-pandemic, might have changed.
- Which students were successful and which students struggled during the pandemic? How can you specifically fix the struggles students faced? Are there trends/data points to those who succeeded? Identify what worked for those who did well, then determine how to give those same skills/advantages/traits to those who struggled. Look to your Chief Data Officer and Institutional Research teams for key data points.
- Where are you lacking information on your students? What you don’t know about them can be as important as what you do know. What information would help you improve their experience? How can you reasonably collect that information?
- Review the student experience in every office that serves students. Which offices struggled most to serve students during the pandemic? Who had to send employees to the office to retrieve paperwork to answer student questions? Where was it impossible? How can the experience in every office be improved? Take the time to observe where there were lines of students or virtual piles of paperwork.
- What new forms did you need during the process? How easy was it to create them? If this was an issue, learn from Pratt Community College who easily created COVID specific forms and tracked services to students with new electronic forms and workflows.
Top 10: From Digital Scarcity to Digital Abundance
The 2022 Top 10 list defined this point as investing in connectivity, tools and skills so that every student has full, equitable digital access. Higher Ed took a huge leap forward in 2021 with empowering student access. How do you protect those gains?
- Examine student onboarding and offboarding processes. Facilitating student access when students start is critical to a positive student experience. University resources (laptops, hubspots, etc.), are expensive and so it’s just as important to ensure we collect what we loaned out. Strong workflows could automate both onboarding and offboarding.
Top 10: Radical Creativity
The student success of the future demands radical creativity. And that will most certainly demand technology. Why? Because we need to segment students in multiple ways and provide them what they need when they need it. The needs won’t be the same. The paths won’t be the same. But with a strong strategy and the right technology, institutions can automate for the trends of different student populations.
- Review individual student populations and assess their needs. For first generation or low-income students, what challenges do they face? Transfer students? International students? How are you getting them admitted and acclimated quickly? What will attract them back as we eventually reach post-pandemic? Are you educating students on how to balance working and academic programs? Do you need a new or larger food pantry? Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Education, interview students and think outside the box.
- Look closely at student holds and surrounding communication. Review student holds and make sure you are not impeding the activities that will retain students. Every aspect of the financial student journey has to be closely examined.
- Continuously evaluate community partnership. Your campus is an essential part of your community. Are you maximizing those partnerships? Are you providing the learning opportunities your community needs?
- Revisit your Career Center. Visibility is key – both to students and to the community itself. Leverage alumni as career mentors. As students get closer to a career, you are starting to move them up the Maslow Hierarchy towards belonging, esteem and self-actualization. However, you should also help insure they assign value to their degree. Win-win!
Softdocs’ Etrieve solution can support efficiency efforts in every office on campus by eliminating paper and decreasing routing and decision times. Staff can serve the student remotely or in person as higher ed embraces the hybrid model moving forward. We encourage you to read the article by Eric Satterly, CIO and AVP at Bellarmine University, where he makes this profound statement, “Digital transformation is really a re-thinking of people, processes and technology and how they work together, given the proliferation of all the cloud applications and services available.”
Etrieve is a cloud application but what we really do for your campus is exactly what Eric says. We empower you to re-think your people, processes and technology. For transformation, yes. But also to gain the agility to meet the future that higher education is barreling towards.
If we look at Maslow’s almost 80-year-old theory through a new (pandemic-informed) and expanded lens, we’ll find new paths to re-engaging our students and maximizing their success along the way.