Modern students are more connected and empowered than any generation in history. As consumers, they expect the brands they patronize to understand their needs and deliver consistent, great online experiences. And as students, they demand similarly fulfilling encounters.

Unfortunately, most institutions of higher learning would barely receive a passing grade if tested on their ability to deliver appropriate levels of service and support from the moment students enroll to the day they graduate and become alumni.

Why? Because it can be extremely difficult. Indeed, large corporations have struggled for years to meet the rising expectations of digitally sophisticated consumers, such as millennials who grew up with mobile and connected technology. It takes time and money to deploy the big data infrastructure and roll out the types of mobile apps people increasingly demand. And companies only recently began recognizing the fact that competing in today’s environment means prioritizing customer experience–despite the initial costs.

So, some would argue it’s easy to forgive colleges, universities and private institutions for being a little behind the curve. Top schools aside, most will tell you they’re struggling to find the budget and resources they need to compete and build effective student information systems (SIS) for the digital age.

But as the private sector knows, there’s really no choice. Roughly 60 percent of students at four-year public and private colleges choose their institutions because of receiving personalized attention prior to enrollment, according to a National Student Satisfaction Report from Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Multiple studies also suggest prospective students may shun schools they perceive as technologically primitive.

In fact, educational institutions that fail to put some form of modern high-tech infrastructure in place, to assure ongoing engagement with prospective and existing students, run the risk of seeing shrinking enrollment, declining graduation rates and a loss in related funding. For the latter point in particular, many higher education institutions in the US are beholden to funding that is based on a formula that includes college completion and academic performance as criteria.

Worse yet, their public image could deteriorate as frustrated students share their challenges on social media, something that’s happening more frequently with 86 percent of young adults active on social sites.

5 ways to boost the #student experience at #universities without blowing your budget

Whereas two decades ago, most schools built SIS infrastructure around transactions, such as registration and enrollment, today there is a pressing need to collect and use data to understand students and create more productive, meaningful and lasting relationships with them.

Today’s student cloud solutions must re-imagine the student journey to meet their modern expectations across the entire student lifecycle. Using the right tools, institutions will be able to anticipate the needs of their students and illuminate the right path to empower them to succeed. Here are 5 ways educational institutions can deliver more satisfying experiences for modern students:

1. Don’t Ignore Your Data

Every college or university has a wealth of information about their students. And whether it’s academic or personal in nature, the data institutions have on file can tell a lot about students’ past behavior and how they might perform (or stumble) in the future.

The first step toward becoming a modern campus, therefore, is to get your arms around the data you have so you can easily access, analyze and make predictions and recommendations based upon it. Leading universities start by deploying a SIS infrastructure in conjunction with customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation software. They also spend considerable time identifying, consolidating and cleansing data to assure the best possible “single view” or “golden record” for students.

In the end, you want actionable information to underlie every communication with students so they believe you know and care about their success.

(Next page: 3 more ways to deliver a better student experience)

About the Author:

Vivian Wong is group vice president for Oracle Higher Education. Wong is a dynamic, outcome-driven, and accomplished technology executive who is highly focused on service excellence and customers’ success. She brings a wealth of experience and talent to develop world-class software and lead global engineering teams. Wong has a proven track record in delivering high quality products from concept to market, with over 20 years of experience building enterprise software and Cloud applications at PeopleSoft, Taleo, ServiceMax, TargetX and Oracle. Vivian is currently leading the Higher Education Product Development organization at Oracle for the latest innovation and delivery of Oracle Student Cloud.  As a strong customer advocate, she ensures that quality, usability, performance and scalability are always designed and built into her products.


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