Published on 2012/05/04

Technology Upgrades Can Save Both Money And Students

With retention and graduation rates taking the role of performance indicators in higher education institutions, students not graduating has a negative impact both for the metrics and for the bottom lines of universities. Campus Technology’s Barabara Ravage constructed a list of five ways colleges and universities can use technology to improve their retention and advising services, while saving money in the process.

1. Increase Productivity

Many institutions are seeing huge increases in enrollment, but lack the funds or will to expand their infrastructure to accommodate the influx.

Programs like DegreeWorks and u.achieve can remove that strain by providing advising and degree-auditing tools that align students, faculty and administrators on student progress and success.

2. Improve Planning

Advising tools can do more than just help students navigate academic requirements. There are programs that can help avoid infrastructure issues with services like determining how many students are taking a given class, how much space the scheduled classroom has, and whether a new room needs to be found or new sections need to be added. Such systems can also raise alerts on course conflicts.

3. Support for Staff Advisors

Schools must be careful not to abandon human advisors in favor of technology solutions. In truth, institutions save more money by using technology solutions to support the efforts of human advisors and, as a result, keeping more student enrolled.

Such systems bring a flipped classroom approach to career and academic advising, where students can construct a degree-plan or career plan blueprint before physically meeting with their advisor and then discuss those options with a human. This is in contrast to the system that exists now, where students go into the advisors’ office a blank slate, and much of the meeting time revolves around creating a blueprint.

4. Provide Early Warning

At-risk students will rarely bring up their concerns until it is too late, and colleges and universities only really have the capacity to identify troubled learners once it is too late.

There are systems that can identify troubled students as early as the first week or two of semester, and tracks that students’ success and progress through a course.

At Muskegon Community College, where such a system was tested out, instructors found that better grades were being achieved and at-risk students who received automated warnings were more motivated.

5. Improve Recruitment

“Everybody talks about retention on the back end: We’ve recruited them, we’ve accepted them, we have them, now how do we retain them?” Joseph Provenza, CIO at Flagler Colllege, asked Ravage. “If you’re really smart with the analytics, you gather up the data over the course of time and work right back around to the front end”

There are systems in place that can help schools mine through retention management solution data to identify their ideal student’s characteristics, and help institutions then target those students as prospective enrollments.

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