By: 
Thomas W. Durso
Honoree: 
LDS Business College

As if limited resources didn’t make advising tough enough, LDS Business College in Utah discovered that students were seeking services even before they set foot on campus.

“A good portion of our student population comes in without direction,” says Adrian Juchau, chief student services officer. “They’re not quite sure where they want to go or what they have to do. They’re hungry for help and support along the way.”

Current students wanted more advising than they were getting, as well.

The college now offers everyone a Student Tailored Education Plan (STEP). STEP began as a paper handout and eventually became an online offering.

Annual plan development begins with an online questionnaire sent to incoming and current students to determine their expectations while they’re at the college, and what they hope to do after graduating. Students also answer questions about their financial, academic, career and other personal plans.

Automated feedback directs students to resources that address their concerns. The information provided is based on the experiences of prior students who reported similar concerns. If the issues are serious enough, the system flags the answers for follow-up.

STEP was built by the college’s offices of student advising and success, student support, student living, and student leadership and involvement. The offices meet weekly to review the program, the data it generates and students’ progress.

Faculty announce STEP in their classes and reach out as needed. Other offices, such as financial and employment services, work with students who need or request their assistance.

LDS administrators monitor program participation, whether individual plans need revising, and student satisfaction. That data is used to improve STEP and reach more people.

Among new students, STEP is a hit, with 90 percent reporting that it has helped. Continuing students haven’t been as enthusiastic, since the program offers the same experience to them as to new students—who have different needs. There are plans to revise STEP for continuing students.

While the initial insights provided by each student’s STEP feedback are considerable, Juchau and his colleagues recognize follow-through is equally important, he says. “You’ve really got to support them in those plans and provide the interventions that they need.”