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Articles: Student Services

Student success and retention, along with recruitment and enrollment, lead the way among the many areas that will see a fresh commitment of funding and other resources over the next 18 months.

Colleges and universities of all types and sizes are planning new investments in virtually all areas of operations as economic recovery entrenches itself in higher education, according to a University Business survey of campus leaders.

Colleges and universities are ramping up services for international freshmen and sophomores as administrators increasingly look abroad to further diversify their campuses and to expand enrollment with students who pay full tuition.

Whether it’s purchasing textbooks every semester or meeting daily needs such as meals, snacks or health and beauty aids, students who find the right dining and retail stores on campus have a better college experience.

Many higher ed institutions are adding shops and brand-name eateries, as well as renovating bookstores to keep up with current technology trends.

Credit Rating Rankings: Long-term ratings used for higher ed institutions. (Click to enlarge)

The U.S. economy has been through major changes in the last several years, and the effects are being felt on campus. In many cases, this turmoil shows up publicly in the form of a credit-rating downgrade. On some campuses, a change in the credit rating has no effect on the day-to-day operations; on others, it can be devastating.

The remodel of a dining hall at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro was going to displace more than 5,000 student mailboxes. While thousands of those mailboxes were used infrequently—having been abandoned in the age of email and social media—they couldn’t be discarded entirely because there were still care packages from mom and dad and the occasional Amazon order to deliver.

Driving college loan defaults down

The coming change in how student loan default rates are calculated may mean bad news for some colleges and universities.

With the new calculations, the rate at which a group of students later defaults on loan payments will increase for most institutions, and schools with a particular default rate for three consecutive years will lose the ability to give Pell Grants. That’s why many are seeing this as the ideal time to look at how default prevention services are managed.

“We include in our emails a link to a brief video that explains that we are counselors, not collectors, working on behalf of the college the borrower attended, and that we work with borrowers and their loan servicers to resolve their loan payment issues. The video invites the borrower to call us.”

—Craig P. Anderson, senior vice president, business development, USA Funds

There’s value in treating noncredit courses as more than just an add-on to degree programs.

Georgetown University officials had a bit of an epiphany recently about the impact of their noncredit courses. While the offerings had been around since the 1990s, administrators hadn’t realized the big benefits they could bring to the institution.

A transcript highlighting the full student experience at Elon University—including study abroad, research and service learning participation—is offered. When an e-transcript request is made, both the traditional one and the Elon Experiences Transcript can be combined into a single PDF file.

Rather than dealing with the intensive labor involved in sending and receiving paper transcripts—and frustration from students and graduates accustomed to automation—most colleges and universities have implemented electronic transcript capabilities.

Colleges and universities that have not yet implemented electronic transcripts may be selling their students short.

Not only do e-transcripts require less staff time and ensure better results through trackability and online security, but they also can be delivered almost instantly.

One proven way to improve retention is by supplementing traditional academic advising with student success coaching. Student success coaching helps students fit school into life and life into school while building up the skills they need to be successful, including study skills, time management, and stress management. As institutions explore the possibility of starting coaching programs to improve student outcomes, there are several challenges they will face.

When it comes to online education, careful course development is hardly the only piece needed for successful student outcomes. Colleges without long-time experience in distance learning may be far more likely to overlook the importance of adequate support services. Just how can these needs be met? Here are seven ways to provide exceptional support for online students.

Small schools led in SIS purchases, but mid-tier schools were more active in 2013.

A potentially positive higher ed economic indicator is that more institutions purchased student information systems in 2013 than had done so in any year since 2008, according to a recent market analysis by The Tambellini Group.

Two of the main reasons given for the 195 purchases were the need to update outdated software and to replace homegrown systems.

From managing loans to controlling spending, many college students find themselves dealing with a host of financial responsibilities for the very first time. And it’s not uncommon for them to trip up.

Campus financial literacy programs can help students steer clear of some of their most common financial mistakes. The challenge for educators is to find creative and clever ways to get their attention.

Many colleges are advising students how they can save money with digital and used textbooks.

As costly as tuition and textbooks can be, poor planning and time management can raise the prices even higher.

Richard O’Connor, director of financial aid at American International College in Massachusetts, says students at that institution have several options for saving on books. “About half of our students are low income, so just paying tuition can be challenging.”