Higher education is a life-changing opportunity in every individual’s life. However, while education is a privilege, it isn’t the same experience for all those attending universities or colleges.
Some students find it challenging to know which institution to apply to, which program to select, and what activities they should become a part of, which are dependent on the facilities provided by the institution.
On the other hand, educational institutions face the dilemma of graduate dropouts. Many students end up dropping out of college before the completion of their program. Either due to financial reasons, failure to keep up with studies, or some don’t feel the need to acquire a college degree. In addition, employers have started preferring skills over academic grades and activities.
Simply providing a purpose-built campus and highly qualified instructors in higher education institutions isn’t enough. Students want the entire learning experience from various academic and non-academic factors. This article explores six tips higher education institutions can enhance the student experience.
- Seek feedback and implement it
The best way to enhance the student learning experience is to ask for feedback. To begin improvements, seek input from students regarding your institution’s faculty and facilities. Not just at a higher level, but persuade faculty members to repeatedly ask for feedback from students regarding course curriculum and method of instruction.
You can get intel on where students want to see a change through online questionnaires or social media polls. Once you have valuable insights from the students, seek ways to act on this feedback. Consulting organizations like Lindauer for executive search in education can help hire the right talent that can help you translate valuable feedback into actionable steps for enhancing student learning. From recruitment to managing institutional affairs and making the student experience more inclusive and diverse, Lindauer has helped many educational institutions improve their student experience.
- Promote creativity
Simply working on enhancing the academic experience is a half-hearted attempt at improving student learning. Students spend so much time and money investing in the education your institution provides. It only seems natural to focus on their psychological well-being as well. Preparing students for the next phase of their life is not about recruiting highly qualified teachers and conducting exams. While most schools and colleges offer awareness campaigns and work week-long activities on various topics like racism, inclusivity, and mental health, try doing something different.
A different approach like organizing soft skills workshops or mentor programs will enhance creativity and build enthusiasm for the next chapter in students’ lives. Many institutions have gained positive results from creative initiatives that enhance social skills and boost confidence among their students.
- Help students become self-aware
Building on the previous point, many students come to universities for the full learning experience and not just to acquire a promising career. Students want to discover themselves and meet like-minded people, and some hope to turn around their lives completely. However, especially after graduating and when acquiring a degree, some students feel discouraged and uncertain of their future.
Maybe they weren’t enrolled in their dream program or didn’t want the job that their current major offers. Others question the very nature of getting a college degree and how that aligns with their life’s purpose. Without proper answers and guidance to these questions, students are bound to drop out or lose interest in whatever career plans they had at the beginning of the college year. Higher education institutions can help students become self-aware through one-on-one career counseling and psychological counseling. In addition, some students feel more prepared to embark on their journey after meeting with alums or experts in the desired field.
- Increase alumni engagement opportunities
One of the reasons why students drop out of college is because they don’t feel like their current academic path will lead them to a promising career. Even in conventionally successful majors like business administration or computer science, many students feel hopeless, thinking they might not land a promising and high-paying career. While it is understandable for students to feel uncertain about their future, dropping out of college isn’t the best option.
College administration must increase alum engagement to help students feel secure and certain about job prospects in their chosen field. In addition, alums working in those fields in reputed organizations can have a little chit-chat with the current students. This way, students can better understand what awaits them after graduation. It can also help them prepare for job interviews and work on enhancing any skills or gaining experience.
- Establish online forums
Given the size of a higher education institution, not every student will be available for a workshop or seminar. Similarly, among those who are available, not every student is vocal during a workshop or lecture. Some students feel more comfortable sharing their opinion or giving feedback anonymously or behind the computer screen.
To foster engaging discussions among like-minded students, provide online forums for discussions. Online forums will also help collect feedback on matters regarding curriculum and other student concerns. For example, many universities and colleges shifted to hybrid learning models during the COVID-19 pandemic, and online forums were constructive. Even now, online learning platforms and forums help students learn at their own pace and in a comfortable environment.
- Train your staff
One prominent feature of Lindauer is faculty and staff training, whether it is for management or teaching. Times are changing, and new learning methods and approaches have emerged. As a result, learning strategies and course content taught decades ago may not be fruitful for preparing today’s workforce. In addition, teaching faculty and mentors need frequent training to help understand their role better in enhancing the student experience.
Training opportunities are not just for introducing new learning approaches. Instead, they allow staff to acquire skills they can transfer to their students through a practical learning approach.
- Track Student Activity
Increasing student retention is imperative for enhancing learning. However, before dropping out, you can notice signs of disinterest and disengagement among students, which can expedite the dropout process from missing classes, low enrollment, poor grades, and late submissions. Understandably, keeping track of each student’s progress and performance isn’t easy.
Therefore, digital solutions like learning platforms and portals can help teachers and administrative staff keep track of student progress. Late assignment submissions, poor test scores, and low attendance are some features integrated within most learning platforms. Such tools help increase student accountability and help teachers or administration give extra attention when needed.
Enhancing student experience should be the center of shaping your institution’s operations. A better learning environment and opportunities will increase student retention and decrease dropout rates. In addition, students may feel more self-aware and aligned with their life’s true purpose if they study in a nurturing and supportive environment.