Defining the Student Experience of tomorrow
Student success isn’t determined by the parameters listed above. There are other aspects of a student’s journey that we never considered addressing in the past, including touch-points that are relevant to the student experience. Successful universities of the future will be those that embrace technology to shape the experiences of a student’s life, by adopting a totally different approach, to enhance student outcomes. This blog focuses on three key areas where student experiences of the future will be defined.
Student Finances: Investing in Futures
A student loan statement isn’t the easiest document to read. All you know is that you’ve borrowed a lot of money but there is no one place to get a complete financial picture. A university that is really serious about helping a student manage their finances could provide a service or solution through which the student can track loans, manage payment, obtain further loans (federal or private, micro lending, peer-to-peer loan). These solutions that exist in the banking industry haven’t been explored to the fullest by universities. They tend to offer the student an enhanced experience of managing and tracking debt.
Meanwhile, with income-sharing agreements, colleges are piloting agreements that offer a 100% fee waiver for a course. Once the student gets a job, the university takes a share of the salary every month that pays back the cost of tuition, at a nominal rate of interest. Universities need systems to manage this: estimate the student’s financial capability, track loans and repayments. In fact, this department of the university needs to look like the loan department of a bank – with the people, processes, and technology that make it run. This is where a university needs to think like a bank.
Career Services: Start thinking like a Placement College
While most universities have well-oiled career services, both at college level and department level, there is a need to rethink the way the student experience is shaping up on this front. If the purpose is to be an interface with top companies to help students find jobs suited to their skills, the career-fair and resume drop-off formula doesn’t always lead to the best results. More importantly, the question to be answered is how universities are adapting to the future of work, in a world where skills and job requirements need to be matched better than ever.
Schools are currently limited by the kind and number of companies that they have a relationship with. Many are not matching student capability to the right type of careers and companies. The solution lies in universities taking a leaf out of Executive Education and professional career service companies. Imagine if students could have a profile that has rich information linked to career tracks in the real world. AI and machine learning could empower recruiters with more information even as students are better equipped with information on job vacancies and career openings in various industries. The richness of this profile can be used to attract new employers. That’s how universities need to think to enable information interchange between recruiters and student prospects- a game-changer for future career services at universities.
Lifelong Learning: Professional Development for a Great Career
There exists a massive mismatch in employer needs and employee skills, and there are many companies working with corporations to bridge this gap. These skill service providers partner with universities and leverage their own network of partners and platforms to help companies bridge their talent gaps in both hiring and training. This need for executive education continues through the career of the employee, with needs varying with the life-stage. It is time for universities to step up their game in this area.
What if universities and employers could partner with each other in this last-mile training program to ensure a student transitions into the workforce more efficiently and hits the ground running? This would borrow from the world of the Learning and Development department and impart vocational or career skills for the job that isn’t part of the curriculum. This could involve gamified learning tools, interactive modules that test the student on skills and knowledge before moving on to another level. In fact, this department of a university would begin to look like the Training Department of a company, and would significantly change the student’s experience for the better.
Skin in the Game: Helping universities invest more in the student experience
Successful universities of the future will be set apart from the rest by how invested they are in the student experience. How well a university embraces digital technologies is a key enabler. New-age digital technology will redefine the student experience by helping universities be more invested in the student. Every time there is an income-sharing agreement, a university is investing in a student, putting its belief in the student, and throwing its weight behind their future prospects. This shift in attitude is what will help students have a better experience while at university. To help this happen, universities need to think like the industries that they will borrow from, with technology and solutions in lockstep with this change in approach