Does your student experience foster enrollment growth?

Colleges and universities across the U.S. continue to see stagnation or decline, but Maryville University in Missouri is thriving. In fact, Maryville has seen more than 80-percent growth within the last five years. How have we bucked the trend in a challenging environment?

As Maryville’s president since 2007, I attribute our success first to great, outcome-focused academic programs and second to a tremendous emphasis on the student experience. We never lose sight of the fact that students aren’t just learning while they’re with us, they’re living. Our approach considers the full spectrum of their needs, extending from recruitment to employment—and beyond.

Opening the door with access and opportunity

Providing accessible, attainable opportunities to earn a degree should be table stakes in higher education. At Maryville, we’ve taken tangible steps to not only open the door for students, but to help them stay and succeed.…Read More

Using technology to fast-track student success at Temple University

Long after diplomas are in hand and graduation caps tossed in the air, student loan payments remain for many college grads. According to the Department of Education, students are leaving college faced with significant amounts of student debt. The national average owed for a bachelor’s degree stands at $30,500.

For those with student loans, receiving an undergraduate degree in four years—versus five or six—brings big advantages. Eliminating extra semesters means eliminating additional tuition, translating to lower overall student debt. Plus, graduating sooner allows individuals to enter the workforce sooner, getting a jump start on a career path and hopefully the ability to start paying down debt.

While graduating from a four-year college in four years seems like a straightforward achievement, only 41 percent of students are able to do it, according to The New York Times.…Read More

Guess what? Higher-ed innovation & student success starts with wi-fi

Before mobility became essential for student wellbeing, recruiting, and retention, we deployed a wi-fi network at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock that was adequate for meeting institutional requirements and academic demands. Fast-forward several years and our hodge-podge of antiquated equipment from multiple vendors couldn’t handle modern needs. Today, as we’re finishing up a major refresh, we’d like to share nine steps that were critical to gaining the right outcome for us.

Step 1: Articulate the primary goal–it’s more effective than it may seem
Despite sounding like a no-brainer, honing our business drivers into a concise primary goal proved effective because the exercise informed many of the ensuing steps. For us, the primary goal was modernizing our wi-fi to be a differentiator for attracting and retaining today’s mobility-empowered students by offering a home-like user-centric wireless experience to permit students to connect any device quickly, easily, and securely.

Step 2: Seek formal student involvement–what you learn can save the day
Like many institutions, we have a student IT advisory board that typically attracts those with a technology affinity. However, our wi-fi refresh would touch every student, regardless of their interest in the mechanics of making it work.…Read More

How our university improved student retention by 5 percent

As a student, choosing a college is a significant decision that has a lifelong impact, personally and professionally. Many factors come into play: the campus experience, available academic programs, cost, sports and athletic opportunities, residences, and word-of-mouth referrals.

Once a selection is made and the student enrolls, many of these same factors will also determine how students perceive their college experience. Living conditions, their roommate, how they finance their education, the groups they’re involved in, and the friends they meet, all shape student success—and that’s a perennial challenge for administrators charged with improving retention rates.

Uncovering retention insights with big data
As vice president for academic administration at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, making sense of the vast array of data that we know about students is critical to our objective of closing the student retention gap and developing programs that provide encouragement, coaching, and advice to those who exhibit the earliest signs of dropout risk.…Read More

#3: 10 ways colleges use analytics to increase student success

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on August 13th of this year, was our #3 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2018 countdown!]

The success of higher education institutions depends on the ability to excel across the student life cycle. Regardless of the type, size, or focus of a college or university, they all strive to attract and enroll high-quality students, retain and graduate students, and maintain strong relationships with alumni.

One of the keys to realizing these outcomes is using analytics to go beyond reporting on what has happened in the past, to providing a best assessment on what will happen in the future. By applying analytics to student life cycle data, universities can generate deeper insight into students before they arrive, while they are on campus, and after they leave.…Read More

How big data is driving innovation at Elon University

When big data produces new insights, the results can be stunning. Uncovering new growth opportunities, finding answers to long-asked organizational questions, and using IT resources more effectively are just a few of the outcomes big data can offer.

However, building the integrated data sets necessary for big data to work its magic has historically been challenging for colleges and universities, even more so than for businesses. While higher education institutions do aggregate massive amounts of data, often individual departments collect and review it in isolation.

Fortunately, the introduction of new technology, specifically designed with higher education in mind, is helping to drive a new wave of campus modernization. At Elon University in North Carolina, we’ve been able to harness the power of big data, increasing collaboration across departments and ultimately enhancing the college experience with a true focus on student success. With a renewed campus-wide focus on data and the technology to help us get there, we’ve successfully used big data insights to directly improve student and staff outcomes. Here’s how we did it.…Read More

Looking to boost student achievement? Try mentoring

Mentoring is one of the pillars of Indiana State University (ISU). The school offers an assortment of both formal and informal options, including programs that serve distinct student populations. Others involve peer mentoring or drawing on an axis of faculty-staff-alumni to lend their guidance and support.

After winning a five-year, $2.38 million dollar grant in September from the U.S. Department of Education’s competitive Strengthening Institution Program, ISU is amping up to enlarge its mentoring opportunities.

Research has shown the transformative effects of mentoring on students, especially for those who come from impoverished backgrounds. “Relationships matter,” says Josh Powers, associate vice president for student success at ISU. “That is at the core of mentoring. It’s particularly important for marginalized students to feel like they matter and someone is investing in them.”…Read More

What would a post-secondary institution that was designed for maximum student success look like?

What would a post-secondary institution that was designed for maximum student success look like? What would a college look like where a student could define what they were looking to get out of the experience?

“I want an education that allows me to:

  • work full time / go to school full time
  • continue earning enough money to pay my rent and living expenses / focus on my studies
  • increase my income by ____% $____ per hour or year / pursue my passion for _____”

And what if an institution was held accountable for their success in achieving those outcomes?…Read More

5 ways our college is helping first-generation college students succeed

When I first set foot on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder as an undergraduate, I had no idea what I was doing. My parents had not gone to college. Three of my grandparents had not even graduated from high school. No one in my extended family had advised me about choosing or preparing for college, let alone could they help me in navigating a university once I got there. I quickly realized that I had to figure out higher education on my own, and fast.

Nationwide, one out of every three first-year students start their first semester of college under similar circumstances, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That is also true at the institution I lead, The College of Saint Rose, in New York, where more than 30 percent of the students in our most recent first-year class are the first in their families to go to college.

While every personal situation is unique, students’ feelings and experiences are not—especially during the first year on campus. Almost all first-year students will feel overwhelmed at some point during the transition to college, and that emotion is magnified even more for first-generation college students who have little or no understanding of what is expected of them and what campus life will be like.…Read More

Get on board with data integration

The modern, public university is arguably facing more strain than ever before—both from outside and inside its walls. Marked by new competitors and declining funding, the state of today’s higher-ed marketplace has driven more public universities to turn to technology as a holy grail for readying them to compete.

Universities are complex systems, comprised of thousands of departments, specialty schools, and student groups. They’re facing competition from for-profit institutions and tech startups, and the state funding for public universities is declining year over year.

A cross-sectional view of several macro-level trends in higher ed paints a clear picture on why this complexity is significant, and how technology will be a defining factor in addressing it.…Read More