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Non-Traditional Students | 4 minute read

More Power to the Students: Enabling Self-Service in Higher Education

Technology is changing the way businesses function and its impact is being felt across the higher education space too. The current generation of students, which comprises more non-traditional students than ever before, are extremely comfortable with technology and prefer using it to engage with their education provider on their own.   

Gone are the days, when you could expect your students to make time to come to the campus, queue up and move from one department to the other to complete seemingly simple tasks such as registering for programs or paying down fees. Students value their time and look for personalized service. What’s more, they expect to be able to manage most of their engagement with the institution themselves, without being confined by office hours.  

Think about it, a working professional who has a day job and family responsibilities in the evening will struggle to come to campus for simple bureaucratic tasks between 9-5, Monday through Friday. Even if your college goes a step further to create office hours during evenings or weekends, the demands on their time make schlepping to the registrar’s office a significant inconvenience.   

In an interview with The EvoLLLution, Christine Blakney, Managing Director of Student Business Services at the Texas Tech University, explained how offering self-service functionalities can help universities adapt to the changing expectations of their learners 

This generation of students has only known immediate access to information via the internet—with around-the-clock access to virtually everything. It just makes sense that our universities—which should be on the leading edge of technology and education—would offer that ease of access as well, she said. 

 If you truly care about your students and value their success, you should aim to serve them where they are. And there is no better place to look than the eCommerce world as you think about prioritizing your student experience.   

Consider how Amazon and Uber operate. Their focus on delivering an intuitive, customer-centric experience helps them stand out to their target audiences. Importantly, both Amazon and Uber are designed to let customers self-serve their needs. An individual can visit their portal, search for products, gather all the information to take the purchasing decision, then order products using their credit or debit card, track delivery of the product and see their purchasing history. If customers have any questions or are dissatisfied, they have the power and control to decide whether they want to talk to a customer service representative or not  

This is the kind of access, control and convenience that higher education leaders must think of enabling, if they are to serve their students effectively. 

According to Nancy Rubin, Dean of Continuing Education and Distance Education at Northwestern Health Sciences University, simplicity is essential to serving modern learners. 

 “Students expect easy access to university services from wherever they are, on whatever device they are using,” she wrote in an article on The EvoLLLution. Whether it is the university website, registration information, the course catalog or looking up grades, today’s students, regardless of their generation, want to access these services online, without logging in to multiple systems.” 

Given these expectations, leaders of continuing and professional education divisions have to think about providing their students with online access that extends beyond just course content in a learning management system. You need to empower your students to accomplish administrative tasks on their own–things  such as choosing classes, registering and paying for them, looking up their grades, and ordering transcripts.  

 Building a system that interfaces with all the necessary systems to access and pull up all this information in a central place is not always easy. There are access issues, identity management concerns, and integration problems that need to be addressed. Fortunately, you have tools available to help you overcome these barriers and create a top-notch student experience. With Destiny One Student Lifecycle Management software platform and its self-service capabilities, your students can engage with your university through its website as and when they like 

Rather than coming to your campus and waiting in line for service, your students can perform most tasks simply, and in a few clickswhether it’s registering for courses, paying fees, requesting transcripts or even reviewing historical financial information.  

Not only this, your students can also start filling in course applications and save them to submit when they’re ready, drop courses and track their progress towards credentialsall by themselves.   

By providing your students with the ability to manage their experience, you are not only providing quality customer service, but also improving your own operational efficiency. The demand for hands-on processing decreases, and your staff has more time to focus on higher-value activities.   

“Since many business offices are being challenged to do more with fewer staff, providing resources that allow the student to manage their account directly helps us to meet that goal, said Blakney in her EvoLLLution interview.  

So what you are waiting for? Enable student self-service and deliver an experience designed for your professional and continuing education learners 

Read our paper and learn more about self-service in higher education and how it  enables learner success.