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Best In Class:  Finding Answers to Higher Education’s Top Engagement Challenges

In today’s changing landscape of higher education, maintaining strong relationships with students can be a difficult assignment. Overall enrollment is on the decline while the cost of higher education continues to rise. Competition is stiff to enroll and retain students who want more value out of their investment in education. Student populations are more diverse than ever, and institutions are being challenged to provide greater accountability for student outcomes. Add to that lack-luster student and alumni engagement, is it any wonder students are shopping around for better solutions to meet their educational needs? Let’s explore some of these challenges and look at key recommendations to help your student experience make the grade.

Career Readiness

The goal of any institution should be to produce graduates that are prepared and ready to join the workforce. Yet, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, only 60 percent of all college students graduate with a Bachelor’s, Associate’s, or Certificate degree within eight years. Making matters worse, employers today often require new and varied skill sets that aren’t always offered at traditional universities. This trend will continue as industries like manufacturing and engineering seek new individuals to fill depleting roles. To help students compete in the real world, higher education institutes should partner with trade schools to make a smooth transition from the learning environment to the job. Additionally, they should offer digital badges, certificates, and micro-credentials – and, they should help students complete these credentials in less time and at a lower cost. Focusing on real-world learning not only leads to greater employability but also fosters loyalty for intuitions offering solutions that match student wants or needs.

Online and Blended Learning

Busy schedules that consist of work, family, and other activities leave little room to pursue an education. That’s why more students are going back to school later in life and looking for institutions that help them meet their educational goals in ways that fit their lifestyles and needs. In a recent Lumina Foundation report, 38% of undergraduates were over the age of 25 and that number is expected to increase through 2025. Even in online and blended learning environments, it’s imperative that institutions provide each student with a personalized and engaging learning experience. Simply providing online webinars doesn’t cut it. Students crave engaging, rigorous online learning programs that incorporate tailored services with innovative digital solutions. Educators that connect with students in their preferred communication channels and offer technology solutions that expand a student’s access and reach will be rewarded.

Data, Analytics, and the Student Journey

Businesses today use actionable insights to improve the customer experience and business success metrics such as customer satisfaction, retention, and Net Promoter Score. These tools are equally important in higher education to attract and retain students as well as improve the performance of individual learners. Yet many institutions struggle operationally to connect infrastructure, instruction, and assessment to create a holistic view of students, faculty, and alumni. This can be detrimental to an institution’s bottom line when it comes to loss of funding or harm to reputation because of poor performance. Best-in-class institutions are redefining the student experience and leveraging comprehensive data and analytics to make a measurable impact on student learning and success. This includes assessing the current student experience, mapping the desired experience across all phases of the student journey, and creating personalized learning paths for every student. When higher education institutions treat students as unique individuals, they will attract and retain a more diverse and inclusive student body.

Higher education faces many challenges and many opportunities. Institutions that put the student experience first will be uniquely equipped to serve the next generation. For more information on Startek’s CX solutions for higher education, please visit our contact us page.