Driving Student Outcomes Using Your Website and Career Pathways
Students today want to enroll in a course or program that will lead them directly to a job. A college or university might have the right programming, but is it clear to a student once they hit the school’s website? By creating career pathways, students can see job outcomes and be updated with relevant industry information. Leveraging your website will help make this clear to learners and encourage them to engage further with your content—and possibly enroll. In this interview, Melony Martinez discusses the value of career pathways, the importance of college and university website, and how using these tools can help drive student success and prepare them for the workforce.
The EvoLLLution (Evo): Why is it valuable for students to have visibility into the career pathways that a particular course or program might get them?
Melony Martinez (MM): It’s important for a student to understand where a degree program can take them, but at times it’s hard for our students to make the connections between the degree programs and the career that it leads to. So, they need the visibility of a career pathway stemming out of a particular course or program. In the past, we haven’t done a great job at making that path clear. We’ve tried on our own to cobble together data to make degree searching easier, by adding labor statistics to program pages to give students an idea of what kind of salary they might earn or what kind of job outlooks there are for particular career areas.
It’s just very tedious work and it’s hard to keep up with it. We’ve been doing it all manually on our team. What made the Modern Campus Pathways module so appealing to us was that it’s all in one package. It enables us to stay up to date, and we don’t have to manually manage it.
Evo: How did manually gathering this information affect staff time and accuracy?
MM: Before the module, our developer would spend days digging through Bureau of Labor Statistics data. At the time, we also weren’t matching to the Classification Instructional Programs (CIP) codes, so we were guessing what programs best fit certain career fields. When I found out that the module was connected to CIP codes, I knew it would be game-changing.
We do have a goal to start engaging people beyond the community—that has been in our strategic plan. And when our landing pages for degree programs are fleshed out more, we’ll be able to point students to accurate information that will lead them to the right program and career pathway they wish to take.
Evo: Over time, how will you determine whether pathways have helped you achieve the goals that you had for them today?
MM: We can see the effectiveness of pathways through our page analytics. They tell us if there’s an increase in traffic to the specific degree programs that we’re highlighting. And we should see an increase in traffic because of the pages’ new look. The number one thing we’ll look at is programs page analytics.
Evo: In terms of future state, do you see a higher education ecosystem more in tune with career pathways as tools like this become more available to help students connect their academic programs with professional outcomes?
MM: The higher ed ecosystem will certainly begin to adapt to this pathway model as more and more resources are available to take on that approach. As a community college, we’re better suited to take it on since we’re more in tune with industry and are able to move fast. We can be nimble and flexible, so our websites need to reflect this adaptability as well.
Evo: What are the characteristics of a great student-centric and engaging college website?
MM: First and foremost, a great website has to offer the content learners are looking for. If a student comes to your site, and they’re looking to explore degree paths or career opportunities, but they’re not able to find them, then you failed. Modern Campus Pathways is going to help us meet student expectations in a number of ways, through the Job Outlook data generated from the Bureau of Labor statistics, and through the degree, search and program offerings students can access. We’re really excited about what this module can do for us in delivering that personal experience to our students.
Evo: What are some of the analytics that you guys keep an eye on to determine the effectiveness and success of specific pages?
MM: To measure effectiveness, we look at the traffic that occurs on a particular page. We want to know how long they’re staying, what they’re looking at and what links they’re clicking on. We also want to see if they’re following through on calls to action—whether that’s by applying to a program, digging deeper into researching a program or even reaching out to faculty for more information. With any call to action we put in front of them, we want to see if they’re working and if we need to tweak anything.
Evo: When you think what you’ve accomplished beyond the CMS, how beneficial is it in helping you achieve that great college website?
MM: Colleges and universities website are so complex compared to other websites. There are so many different things that you’re juggling in the air—we have to cater to multiple groups of learners, and it’s impossible to do without any organization. Modern Campus is the organization system for us. We’re able to have multiple collaborators contributing content to one site while maintaining control and keeping our standards where they need to be. We can still manage our brand assets and ensure that we’re staying within accessibility guidelines. There’s no way a small team of two developers could maintain a website of our size and complexity without the help of Modern Campus.
Websites get more and more complicated as regulations come down from different agencies, and it continues to grow and be more task intensive. It’s hard for our team to manage this, and we try to give our staff as many resources as possible, which is where the CMS certainly helps.
Evo: How do you see the Modern Campus Pathways module starting to double down on that commitment to student outcomes and what potential do you see coming out of it?
MM: Our campus strategic plan and college mission is: “Learning is our focus, and student success is our goal.” Everything we do points back to that. Every decision we make, every dollar we spend, every hour of effort we put into our jobs are all geared towards helping our students succeed. We can’t do that if we’re not funneling them into the degree programs that are leading to successful careers that make a difference for their families.
If they’re not able to find that on our website–they’re not able to explore, apply and enroll–then they can’t get to the end goal, which is graduation and a job. I’m appreciative of the Modern Campus team for keeping their eyes on the future and making these tools available to us.
The website is foundational to driving student outcomes, and the work that goes into it is amazing. Everyone here is here to support learner success. We’re selling students their dreams. The work we do in marketing and public relations is so rewarding because we’re not dealing with last-minute decision making. These are life-changing decisions our students are making—and they’re investing years of their lives—so we want to make sure that they’re choosing the right path for them. It can change the trajectory of their family for generations. Anything we can do to help keep that as clearly, concisely and easily as possible for them is a win.
Evo: Is there anything you’d like to add about career pathways or the CMS more broadly in helping the college achieve its mission?
MM: National Park College has had a really strong relationship with formerly OmniUpdate, which is now Modern Campus, for about twelve years. We’re really excited to see the growth and change that allow us to step into a whole different realm of opportunities for college and university websites. There’s a lot of innovation ahead, and we’re excited to take advantages of the opportunities coming.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
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