A student shows up to class with their digital textbook after having turned in their homework and checked their grades on the learning management system. Later that day the same students receives an email alert about upcoming events on campus, participates in an online group discussion and gets an SMS notification about an urgent campus update. Would you consider that school tech savvy? Students wouldn’t.
In 2016, a study was done by Unit4 on this subject. How do current students feel about their school’s digital offerings? Globally, 2,000 students were surveyed and the results were telling. According to their findings, of the US students:
- 33% said lacking technology negatively affects their view of their university
- 44% would have a better experience with more digital interactions in their school
- 45% would be more likely to recommend their university if digital interaction was better
- 80% would like a single system to manage all of their administration
- 87% would like a single application, available on any device, to manage their college life
- 87% want an app that shows their current progress in their degree
Students were least satisfied with managing their financial aid, course transfers and faculty advisor communication channels. The results from other countries weren’t far off.
These students have grown up in a world filled with technology. If they need or want something, the first place they instinctually go is online. While their attention spans are short, Generation Z can easily work on up to five screens at once. They expect smooth technology because that is all they have known and when it isn’t there, they think less of the institution.
Improving your omnichannel reach is a must. Just having a website providing information isn’t enough. Imagine an app a student could log into once from any device, then check their grades, send a message to their advisor, see the balance of their student financial aid and pay their tuition — a one-stop shop for all of their needs. That’s what students want: access to every aspect of their college experience in one convenient place.
Even high school students expect colleges and universities to offer simpler, paperless ways to apply. The Common Application is used by 940,000 high school students. They submit more than 4 million applications through the site each year. Students enter their information once, submit to schools and track their application’s progress all from one place. Nearly 700 colleges and universities are now accepting the Common Application, including all eight Ivy League schools and many other top schools. Thus, students enter college with high expectations.
Technology moves fast. It is impossible to keep up with the “latest thing.” However, if you don’t make any changes, the world will leave you behind. As enrollment numbers decline, the competition for the attention of students will only increase. Having strong and simple technology on campus, could increase student enrollment and retention.