Every higher education institution has different people, processes, and tools powering their student engagement strategies. However, the one thing the most impactful student engagement strategies have in common is that they fit their institution’s unique objectives like a glove.
Some colleges and universities employ student engagement strategies that are more mature than others. That’s why AdmitHub developed a proven framework that makes it easy to determine your current strategy’s level of maturity. Knowing where your strategy stands today will enable you to align your next steps with your institutional goals and long-term student success.
For example, institutions with student engagement strategies in the unstructured phase of our maturity model may find themselves constantly reacting to students’ needs — instead of anticipating those needs and delivering the right information at the right time.
On the other hand, colleges and universities in the consistent phase may already engage students in ways that drive positive outcomes for the institution and their students. Regardless of where your institution falls within the framework, it’s important to ensure that your student engagement strategy aligns with your institution’s objectives.
When Should I Evaluate My Institution’s Student Engagement Strategy?
If your institution is experiencing less-than-optimal student outcomes, then it’s likely your engagement strategy is misaligned with your objectives. To start addressing these challenges, it’s critical to understand how your institution can mature its student engagement strategy to the stage of our framework that best aligns with your current objectives.
Your institution’s objectives are what drives the need to mature your strategy. If your current strategy is meeting your objectives, then there’s no need to progress to the next stage of the framework right now. However, your objectives will likely become more challenging over time. When that time comes, you may need to consider maturing your strategy to a more appropriate stage.
How Can I Evaluate My Institution’s Student Engagement Strategy?
AdmitHub developed a free tool that makes it easy for you to identify where your current strategy stands within our maturity model right now. It asks you a few quick questions and uses your answers to assess your strategy’s level of maturity.
Knowing your institution’s results is vital to identifying your current strategy’s strengths and potential areas for improvement. Once you understand which phase your strategy is in, and how that aligns with your ability to meet your objectives, you can begin to work toward achieving the right strategy for your institution’s needs.
How to Achieve an Aware Student Engagement Strategy
If your institution is currently operating with an unstructured strategy, your staff members may find themselves answering the same questions from different students over and over again. This likely leaves your team little time to address the more complex student challenges they excel at handling. Your students may also feel the effects — specifically confusion from receiving a high volume of disparate communications from different campus offices.
If this sounds familiar to you, there are several actions you can take to mature your student engagement strategy to the next phase.
To achieve the aware phase, start by examining what’s working for your strategy and what’s not. Then, develop a basic organizational structure and communication process that leverages the things that are effective and eliminates what isn’t. For example, if your team is great at executing individual projects, you may want to implement a project-focused strategy to consistently deliver timely communications to your students.
Once you hit your stride, consider investing in technology that’s designed for the specific types of projects you work on most frequently.
How to Achieve a Proactive Student Engagement Strategy
If your institution’s current student engagement strategy is in the aware phase, it may be functioning fairly smoothly, but it could still be optimized for achieving your student success objectives. Rather than focusing on individual projects, try embracing the bigger picture. This may require your team to start collaborating more regularly with other departments to deliver all of the information students need at a given time. Doing so will help cut down on the number of repetitive or irrelevant messages students receive from multiple departments.
Colleges and universities with proactive student engagement strategies have clearly defined student lifecycles. So, in order to advance your strategy to this stage, you’ll need to gain a strong understanding of the process that your students go through from pre-enrollment, to persistence, all the way through to graduation, and beyond. You can use that information to build specific, repeatable communications for each step in the student journey, and then establish metrics and processes related to those steps. This will enable you to identify things like why students may fail to make it to the first day of class, or why fewer students are applying year-over-year.
By understanding these metrics, your institution can identify potential gaps in your student engagement strategy. Additionally, you may want to implement automated tools and systems that enable easy collaboration across various departments. This can help standardize the student experience you deliver while streamlining your processes even further.
How to Achieve a Consistent Student Engagement Strategy
If your college or university currently has a proactive student engagement strategy, you’re likely tracking student success metrics and applying those insights to drive positive outcomes throughout the entire student lifecycle. However, if your ideal state of student engagement includes seamless cross-functional collaboration and real-time measurement of student insights that enable you to drive student success, then there are a few actions you can take to achieve the next phase in our maturity model.
Colleges and universities with consistent student engagement strategies collaborate across all departments and all stages of student engagement. So, your institution may need to increase its focus on collaboration. It’s also vital to have a true technology partner that provides world-class software and enables your teams to collaborate in real-time.
The right technology will give your students instant, 24/7 access to the information they need — but the right partner will also function as a trusted consultant who is as invested in your students’ success as you are. Ideally, they will provide a student engagement platform that enables all of your teams to collect and share aggregate student insights, so you can operationalize the student lifecycle. Once you mature your strategy to the consistent stage, you’ll be able to deliver a student experience that predictably drives positive student outcomes.
How to Achieve an Inspiring Student Engagement Strategy
To achieve an inspiring student engagement strategy, your student engagement needs to be holistically driven by — and aligned with — your student’s needs.
To reach this phase in our maturity model, you’ll need to embrace automation and personalization as key drivers for organizational change to fully realize the connection between the student experience and student outcomes. This centralized student advocacy and student success tracking tool — with standardized human intervention protocols managed by centralized student advocacy and communications functions. Those functions, and all departments on campus, must collaborate closely and seamlessly to track student data and personalize your messaging. Aligning your strategy in these ways will enable your institution to build meaningful relationships with students and understand where they need the most support.
Of course, to make this complex level of collaboration work seamlessly, inspiring institutions leverage world-class technology across the entire organization as a normal practice.
Explore AdmitHub’s Student Engagement Strategy Maturity Model
Download our free white paper, “The Road to Inspiring Student Engagement,” to evaluate your existing communication strategy, identify realistic objectives, and begin planning for the future of student engagement at your institution, today.