Edinboro University (EU), located in Edinboro, PA, is a public four-year institution that was originally founded as a private training school for teachers. Today, EU has grown, with more than 4,000 students spanning two campuses.

As our institution grows, the needs and expectations of our students continue to evolve. We’ve found that the right technology, properly implemented, can better meet these expectations.

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The majority of students attending EU, or any higher education institution today, are doing so to further their knowledge and skills in pursuit of a rewarding future. Finding and cultivating a meaningful career after graduation is a top concern. So, we made it a top priority to eliminate inefficiencies and equip our Office of Career Development to better support student success. Here’s how we did it.

Taking stock

Our university staff have spent years developing useful online tools such as career assessments, centralized internship and career databases, online appointment scheduling and other digital resources to support our students. These tools formed a solid foundation of resources. However, they were largely underutilized because they lived across multiple platforms, each with a unique web address and login process.

We’re hardly alone in this challenge. Siloed career services and student support offices are very common across higher education institutions. Unfortunately, they simply don’t work for the modern student.

To give our students the kind of support they need, we had to overhaul our career services offerings and make a meaningful investment in more advanced technology. The first step was taking stock of our existing services, processes, and enabling technology.

We found that the transactional services offered at our physical career services office, such as resume reviews and job boards, were not well aligned with today’s employment market. They weren’t effective in helping students understand or achieve the practical skills they need when entering the workforce, such as developing flexibility and adaptability.

Our online services, while comprehensive, were spread across too many disparate systems and platforms. Usage was not high enough, and those who did access our online offerings reported difficulty finding them.

To help reverse these inefficiencies and create a modern career services office, we needed technology that could create a collaborative environment, promote easy access to online resources, and integrate with other departments other to enable student success.

TartanEdge

We created a new, centralized environment called “TartanEdge,” which is geared more specifically towards students’ unique needs. It integrates a single sign-on functionality within our existing ERP system, Ellucian Banner, so that when a student logs in, the system automatically imports their information from the ERP. Now, students can see all weekly updates and relevant information from departments across the entire university in one place.

The new TartanEdge became available to students in October 2018, and in the three months following its launch we saw an incredible uptick in student engagement, with an impressive 192 percent increase in student appointments for career services. Our focus on accessibility and ease of use has put EU’s career services on pace to quadruple overall engagement and double usage of its career services tools this year.

The solution also enables brand-new capabilities, such as automated reminders for scheduling appointments and key deadlines, while making online resources more accessible. One small example of our progress: since TartanEdge debuted, there has been a notable increase of visitors on the internship page and the number of appointments for internship assistance has doubled.

Students, however, aren’t the only ones benefiting from the technology upgrade. We’ve seen a surge in faculty using the career department’s tools, which has inspired plans to roll out additional faculty-focused programs campus-wide.

A successful technology model

Today, with better scheduling processes and more transparent access to student data, our career services are more widely used, more helpful to students, and give us a deeper understanding of the most popular types of services utilized by students across academic disciplines.

At EU, enabling lifelong success for our students is our most important job. Our new technology does just that. With a centralized, connected, and intelligent system we’ve revolutionized our career service offerings and demonstrated a successful approach to student service we can replicate across the university.

About the Author:

Monica Clem is the executive director, Center for Career Development and Experiential Learning at Edinboro University.


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