Student Success

Higher Education Goes Digital, Deepening Student Engagement

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The current generation of digitally savvy students have been passively trained by years of social media, e-commerce and online entertainment to expect a high-level user experience in all their digital interactions, with no exception for their educational institutions.

In higher education, there are two categories relevant to digital transformation. The first relates to engagement, where what is known about a student is utilized to deliver relevant communications at the right time, in the right manner. Ideally that can be done across a number of channels, depending on the context, including chatbots, text messages, emails, mobile apps and more. The second category enables the first: a foundation of data where student information—gleaned through website clicks and visits, academic performance tracking as well as other sources—can be used to determine how and when that communication should occur.

A recent Forbes Insights executive brief, “Rising to the Challenge: Digital Transformation and Student Engagement in Higher Education,” sponsored by Pitney Bowes, touches on both categories and outlines practical examples of their application to improve the student experience.

Many educational institutions are now turning to customer experience firms to map the student journey and life cycle. That allows them to zero in on the moments when they can support student needs digitally by providing relevant information, and therefore deepen engagement. (Read More...)

Who Is Studying Online (and Where)

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The number of college students enrolled in at least one online course -- and the proportion of all enrolled students who are studying online -- continued to rise at U.S. institutions in the 2016 academic year, newly released federal data show.

The statistics, part of a major release of provisional data on enrollments, employment and other topics from the Education Department's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, provide the most up-to-date information on enrollments in online and distance education.

The overarching story is a familiar one: even as overall enrollment in postsecondary institutions stays flat (unlike recent numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse, the federal data show enrollments staying roughly constant, not declining), online enrollments climb.

As a result, so, too, does the proportion of all students at institutions eligible to award federal financial aid who are taking at least one course at a distance, as seen in the table below.

The increased likelihood of being enrolled online is occurring at most levels and types of institutions in higher education.

Since 2014, the proportion of undergraduate students at Title IV-eligible institutions who are enrolled in at least one distance education course has risen from 27.1 percent to 30 percent in 2016, and the proportion of graduate students enrolled at least partially online has grown from 32.5 percent to 36.6 percent in 2016.

Community college students (30.9 percent) were more likely than undergraduates at four-year public institutions (29 percent) and four-year private colleges (25.6 percent) to be enrolled in at least one online course.

But more than two-thirds of the students taking at least one online course in 2016 were at public institutions, while roughly 18 percent were at private nonprofit colleges and 13 percent were at for-profit institutions. And the growth in the number of students taking at least one online course in 2016 was greater among public institutions than it was for private institutions, a change in the pattern of recent years. (Read More...)

More Frequent, Intensive Advising Cranks up Student Engagement

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When Georgia State University added 42 academic advisers, it cost the institution an additional $2 million each year. However, reported Tim Renick, vice president for enrollment management and student success, the investment paid for itself, "because the increased retention rate meant more revenue for the school." Graduation rates there grew by more than 20 percentage points in just over a decade, including among students of color; now Black and Hispanic students graduate at rates comparable to or higher than those of White students.

Georgia State's story features in a new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, as an example worth the attention of two-year schools. "If community colleges want to increase student engagement, one place to start is by examining the foundation of academic advising," said Evelyn Waiwaiole, executive director of the center.

To put data behind the impact of advising on retention and engagement, the center surveyed about 180,000 students at 297 colleges around the country. The survey was issued in paper form in the spring semester during class to students enrolled in randomly selected credit-bearing courses. (A parallel survey was given to 9,577 faculty at 86 colleges.) The final report, "Show Me the Way: The Power of Advising in Community Colleges," found that overall, students who get more time in advising with more in-depth discussions during their advising sessions are more engaged in community college.

Yet, the survey also found that the content of those advising sessions varies widely among students. While a majority of students (62 percent of first-termers and 78 percent of returning students) do meet with an adviser, most of those sessions are focused on figuring out what classes they need to take for their educational goals. While two-thirds (65 percent) also said advisers helped them create academic plans, just over half (53 percent) were also able to discuss their commitments outside of school. And most (65 percent) didn't discuss scheduling for a follow-up advising session. (Read More...)

How to Cold Call Your Future Mentor

Getting that first meeting with an in-demand executive or potential mentor can change the course of a person’s career. But how do you break through with someone you’ve never met before? PHOTO: ISTOCK

Getting that first meeting with an in-demand executive or potential mentor can change the course of a person’s career. But how do you break through with someone you’ve never met before? PHOTO: ISTOCK

Getting a meeting with an influential person you admire actually could change your life, by opening doors and providing inspiration or advice.

But how do you connect with a total stranger who is in demand and make that person want to meet with you? Pulling off the career equivalent of a moon landing requires a first contact that is pitch-perfect: the perfect subject line, a winning introduction, a request that isn’t too big or vague, and—a subtle touch that’s often overlooked—a hint of what you can offer in return.

Most people reach out by email, and these emails are often swiftly deleted, experts and executives say. Often, the sender is asking for too much time—even an hour is usually too long—or too much commitment, such as saying outright, “Will you help me get a job?” Unfocused requests for pointless conversations, such as asking about the recipient’s accomplishments or background, also tend to land straight in the trash.

That first email should show that the sender is well informed and prepared for a purposeful discussion. Give a succinct summary of who you are, what you want to accomplish, what you are asking for and if possible, something you can offer.  (Read More...)

Social Networks & Friends May Affect Student Success

As college parents, we have witnessed the influence of our children’s friends.  From elementary school to high school many of us have taken steps to encourage certain friendships or even to discourage other friendships.

We also know that great teachers, good study habits, and the right environment are important combinations to completing college. Now an associate professor at Dartmouth College, Janice M. McCabe, demonstrates through new research, another vital factor determining a student’s academic success that most of us tend to overlook: who they hang out with. “Surveying a range of different kinds of college friendships, Connecting in College details the fascinatingly complex ways students’ social and academic lives intertwine and how students attempt to balance the two in their pursuit of straight As, good times, or both.”

The book was featured recently in a National Public Radio story titled – How College Friendships May Affect Student Success.  It is a useful story that is worth considering from the point of view of college parents and families. The story reminds us to think about how these friendships might affect the path to graduation.

According to NPR, “Her conclusion? “It’s important to realize that friends can have academic as well as social benefits.” And the type of network you have matters a lot. McCabe found that college students’ networks fell into three basic types.

Tight-knitters” had a single cluster of friends who all knew each other and did seemingly everything together. They often described those friends as like “home” or like “family.” Their social network resembles a ball of yarn.”

Compartmentalizers” had between two and four unrelated clusters of friends (Read More...)

Students Want Their Personal Data to be Used to Improve the College Experience, Survey Says

Authored by Meghan Bogardus Cortez

EdTech

 

Using student data to inform educational decisions has been a hot topic over the past few years. Predictive analytics to improve student success, along with data-informed decision-making, were named by EDUCAUSE as two of their top 10 IT issues for 2017. And, as one study indicates, students don’t mind when their colleges track them.

A whopping 98 percent of respondents to an Ellucian survey conducted by Wakefield Research said they want their schools to use their personal data to create an optimized college experience. Also, a majority of the 1,000 U.S. college students who took the survey believe their schools can create this positive change in the next 10 years.

The students surveyed have a laundry list of improvements they want their schools to make: make it easier to track graduation requirements, assist in joining student organizations, aid in course selection and registration. The good news, however, is some universities are already making strides to do exactly what these students want.

Data Helps Boost Retention and Streamline Advising

In the Ellucian survey, 62 percent of students said they wanted their university to improve academic processes like tracking graduation progress and 53 percent wanted to see an improvement in the system for scheduling advising sessions.

EdTech reported on Middle Tennessee State University, which used predictive analytics to create a new-school method of advising: students deemed “at risk” of not graduating received targeted interventions.

But perhaps one of the first to use predictive analytics was the University of Kentucky. UK partnered with Dell back in 2012 to deploy an SAP platform to analyze and predict student graduation likelihoodCampus Technology reports.

“One problem we wanted to address was how to immediately affect student success in the short term,” says Vince Kellen, UK’s senior vice provost for academic planning, analytics, and technologies in a 2014 Dell video.

“Part of our predictive model was to look at students who weren’t exactly hopeless cases, but they weren’t sure bets. Students that had a 50 percent probability of returning. We did some direct work and saw a 66 percent re-enrollment rate.”

Things I Wish I Knew Senior Year of College

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PAUL BRADBURY VIA GETTY IMAGES

Authored by Samantha Matt

I was so naive and entitled during senior year of college. I thought I was on top of the world. All of my friends lived within walking distance of me, so I had someone to hang out with at all times. I could finally legally go to bars, so go out an average of four times a week I did. I was taking classes I was actually interested in, so my grades were pretty decent without having to try. And I already had completed four internships, so I figured my resume was basically set to score me a job after graduation no matter what. I was walking on air. I thought I was great. I thought I was awesome. I thought I was special. Little did I know I was in for a wake up call that was going to rock my little universe. That wake up call being the real world.

My conceited attitude about myself quickly changed when I moved back home, far away from all my friends, and started to get rejected by job after job. Eight months after graduation, I was finally offered my first job. It took eight months. At that very moment, I realized that I wasn’t special. The life I was living then was not the life I had pictured for myself post-college eight months prior. I knew I was going to have to put myself out there and gain a hell of a lot more experience (which I honestly thought I had at age 22) to be successful in the future.

Now, I probably could have sped up this thought process a bit if my senior year self was aware of a few things. Here are 11 things I wish I knew in college:

1. Network, network, network. Networking is like life. It might be awkward, but you have to deal with it... and it never gets any easier. The more out of college you are, the less of a chance you’ll have to talk to prominent people in your industry. Read More...

 

Prepare for Business School over Summer

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Credits: ISTOCKPHOTO

Authored by Delete Smith-Barrow of U.S. News

Newly accepted MBA candidates may want to relax this summer before starting business school in the fall. As tempting as that idea sounds, it may not be realistic.

The Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University requires students to take preprogram online courses in accounting and statistics. Starting this summer at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, incoming students can participate in a workshop that covers networking and other topics. A number of programs offer similar preparation courses, which can take as little as a few hours or as long as a few days to complete.

Every program has its nuances, but the goal is generally the same: to ready students, many of whom have been out of school for a few years, for a rigorous academic experience.

"You don't want to pull the academic Achilles tendon when you hit the court. You need to stretch out and warm up," says Monte Swain, associate director of the MBA program at Marriott. (Read More...)

 

 

Importance of Mentors in College

Authored by Brandon Busteed

A few months after Gallup released findings from the largest representative study of U.S. college graduates, there is much to ponder. The Gallup-Purdue Index surveyed more than 30,000 graduates to find out whether they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being. In simple terms, did they end up with great jobs and great lives?

We learned some stunning things. But one of the most important is that where you went to college matters less to your work life and well-being after graduation than how you went to college. Feeling supported and having deep learning experiences during college means everything when it comes to long-term outcomes after college. Unfortunately, not many graduates receive a key element of that support while in college: having a mentor. And this is perhaps the biggest blown opportunity in the history of higher ed.

Six critical elements during college jumped off the pages of our research as being strongly linked to long-term success in work and life after graduation. Three of these elements relate to experiential and deep learning: having an internship or job where students were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, being actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and working on projects that took a semester or more to complete.

But the three most potent elements linked to long-term success for college grads relate to emotional support: feeling that they had a professor who made them excited about learning, that the professors at their alma mater cared about them as a person, and that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. If graduates strongly agree with these three things, it doubles the odds they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being. Read More...

Gap Year May Have Benefits Long After College

Authored by KJ DELL’ANTONIA

Not every child who gets into college is ready to go. For some, taking a “gap year” — deferring admission for a year after high school graduation — may prove invaluable, helping a child thrive in college and after graduation as well. That’s among the messages in Jeffrey J. Selingo’s newest book, “There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow. 

Many colleges now endorse the gap year, including Harvard, which “encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work or spend time in another meaningful way.” Students who take time off tend to do better academically and are more likely to be satisfied with their choices after graduation, and we’ve written about how students who take time off may be able to make better choices about things like alcohol and sex and have a better understanding of what they want from college. As Lisa Damour, who writes a column on adolescents for Well Family, puts it, “teenage years are like dog years: a year of maturation at age 18 is worth at least seven in later life.” Read More...