For working professionals—non-traditional students looking to advance their career through education—choosing a course or a program is no longer about the sticker price.
These students measure the value of an educational engagement by assessing ROI—which makes it all the more critical to serve their needs effectively. They consider several factors in their decision-making process, including:
Time to program completion
Technical or academic support that is available to help them achieve their learning objectives and potential growth opportunities.
Non-traditional students compare education institutions and shop for value and experience. Once they make a choice, they want to get on with their education immediately.
So what can your university do to meet their needs? How can you support the student’s outcome expectations and deliver the promised value?
A good starting point is to invest in the student experience and, by extension, your students' success. You need to clearly define the value-adding factors that can improve their experience, and then determine what's best to maintain internally and what's best to outsource.
One major factor that non-traditional students value is simplicity… which makes sense for an audience juggling work and family responsibilities while pursuing their education. They want to be able to make course payments, register, order transcripts and track their progress without having to talk to support staff during office hours or following mundane and inefficient processes. They want to focus their efforts on their education—not on bureaucratic red-tape.
This is where applying technology and using modern business practices becomes important. Leading eCommerce providers like Amazon have set our service expectations of every industry, including higher education. Just like Amazon, you should find ways to move to a more self-service oriented model that allows non-traditional students to manage their own experience, and ask for intervention only if needed.
Delivering such a model requires a fundamental shift in the way you have been serving students. It means changing the traditional administrative approach to take the burden off students and make it easier for them to engage with your university.
In an interview with The EvoLLLution, Director of Continuing Studies at Western University Carolyn Young discussed the importance of the Amazon-like experience to the modern learner.
“An effective system is crucial to facilitating this customer experience,” she said. “When students go into our website and they log in with their user ID, they expect to see all of the transactions that they have had, they expect to see a record of that. If they go into a website and the educational provider has answers to their questions, links to different parts of the websites that will keep them informed, it builds this trust and confidence in choosing the school.”
By prioritizing the student experience, you will be able to keep your students feeling satisfied and confident about their decision to enroll with your university. What’s more, it’s common knowledge that it’s easier (and cheaper!) to retain a customer than to bring in a new one. A high-end customer experience can offer a great way for you to retain students for life.
Still thinking about how and why to deliver a superior student experience? Read our digital eBook and explore this topic in greater detail. This curated set of EvoLLLution articles and interviews provides fresh insights about student experience and the actions you can take to ensure that your university is geared to deliver an exceptional one.