Enticing and retaining top-quality students is an ongoing process that requires institutions of higher learning to employ increasingly creative strategies. In the past, colleges and universities relied mainly on their well-established reputations to draw qualified students, and excellent faculty mentoring and teaching to retain them. Today's students; however, have expectations that are strongly influenced by the advanced technology available literally at their fingertips. One of the most challenging tasks that colleges and universities face in the information age is maintaining their established traditions and academic excellence while incorporating technology into their processes so that students have access to a wealth of readily available and accurate information.
While today's students are likely to be highly technically savvy, they still experience a great deal of apprehension when making the transition to college. Often, for the first time in their lives, they are confronted with significant change as well as a great deal of personal freedom; a combination that can lead to poor decision-making and feelings of isolation. Even on small campuses, students can feel very alone and disconnected. Despite experiencing these sometimes overwhelming feelings, students will often not take advantage of traditionally offered services because they do not wish to appear to be struggling. Maintaining their 'cool' persona is of paramount importance to most entering students.
Colleges and universities can capitalize on the technological savvy of their students to help alleviate their fears and to make their transitions as smooth as possible. Orientation is the established process that introduces the student more fully to the school, and is intended to provide a great deal of the information that the student needs in order to be successful in college. The problem, however, is that entering students are often far more interested in their social lives during those first few days of school than they are in learning the ropes. So information, rather than being offered all at once, may be more effective if offered over the course of the semester, preferably in an electronic medium. This ensures that the students will have access to information at the times they most need it and will additionally help them maintain their status in the eyes of their peers.
Because feelings of isolation and fears of not fitting in often inhibit students from taking advantage of resources, it is important for educational institutions to meet those needs in a manner that doesn't make the student feel that they stand out. There are many ways to reach out to students using electronic media that can help ensure their success and support their need to feel independent and authoritative:
• Provide centrally located, interactive electronic campus maps where students can plan out their daily routes to and from class - highlight important campus resources located along the way like the library, bookstore, and student union.
• Place electronic information kiosks in central locations reminding students of important dates - drop and add dates, tuition dates, bookstore hours, etc.
• Make social media a part of the social scene by placing large touch screen monitors in student unions so that students can access events calendars, Facebook, and other social media while engaging with their friends. Create interactive and informative games specific to your institution that highlight the aspects and traditions that make it unique.
The possibilities for creating institutions that are tech savvy and accessible are limited only by the imagination. Students expect information to be available when and where they need it. Capturing and utilizing technology within a framework of academic excellence is an effective and satisfying experience for students, and will ensure their continued commitment and engagement in their educations.
Author Bio | Casey Dubbs | Horizon Display
Casey Dubbs, Marketing Manager for Horizon Display. Casey is a classic over-achiever who likes to get the job done right and can’t stand when things are left unfinished or with unmet potential. She is passionate about implementing others’ vision into reality. When she is not obsessing over marketing, she can be found on Pinterest trying to find recipes everyone in her family will eat.