When you ask a kindergartener what they want to be when they grow up, common responses include “an astronaut,” or “I want to be a doctor,” or even “I’m going to be the president of the United States!”

Kids choose careers based on preconceived notions and what “looks cool” on TV and in magazines, but they don’t always consider the steps they need to take to get to where they want to be.

The same can be said for college students. While most don’t set their sites as high as the average 6-year-old, many don’t understand up front what courses they’ll need to take, the rigor of those courses, what the day-to-day looks like in their preferred field, or even what major to pursue.

College Advising: The Old Model

Outdated College Advising Model

The ordinary college advising model doesn’t aptly support the students it’s meant to serve. When students don’t fully grasp the ramifications or steps needed for their degree path, they are more likely to become dissatisfied with their experience and drop out, or alternatively, switch majors, which can cost time and money. Intervention should come before students register for classes, fail out of courses they’re not interested in, and even prior to experience in a field they’re not pleased with.

In his presentation at NACADA’s 2019 conference, Seth Buchanan, Director of Academic Success & Aviso Administrator at Central Carolina Community College, explained how they updated their advising model in an effort to lead students to:

  • Make an informed program selection upon enrollment
  • Create a complete academic plan for his or her program of study
  • Utilize career services and faculty advising to enhance timely progress towards goal completion
  • Achieve continued, measurable progress towards academic goals

College Advising: The New Model

New College Advising Model

A proactive advising model like the one shown here implements steps to ensure students are making the right decisions before they act. Necessitating career interest surveys before course registration, incorporating your institution’s career center into the academic advising process, and requiring “how to college” courses that highlight best practices and resources involve several ways staff can strengthen student experience.

In addition to helping students make smart decisions and stay on track, these added processes create data that can better inform staff and lead to tighter operation. For example, if an institution couples a required “how to college” seminar with a follow-up survey that asks the student to identify what resources they use on campus, staff can accurately recognize which departments and programs need more attention.

College Advising: For Your Staff

Staff behind a student’s academic advising experience need continuing education and professional development, too! That’s why it’s crucial to routinely train and upskill your team to meet the needs of today’s students. The National Academic Advising Association notes the most effective programs almost always provide quality foundational and ongoing training for staff. Routine training should cover:

  • Student demographic information
  • The basic ins and outs of the job
  • How to develop the skill set of a successful advisor
  • Career advising specifics
  • Course registration
  • And shadowing, in addition to other areas.

College Advising: How Chatbots Help

Now, let’s say you’ve done it. Congratulations! You successfully remodeled the academic advising student experience and are looking forward to increased student success metrics. But what if students don’t show up to required advising appointments? What if they fail to take those surveys, which can lead to inaccurate data?

Colleges and universities across the US are integrating artificially intelligent chatbots to help students through their journey towards graduation and beyond. AI-powered chatbots not only have the ability to proactively nudge students through text message to complete time sensitive tasks, but also answer follow-up questions students may have.

At Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, staff saw program registrations increase 2x after their chatbot, “Chompers,” messaged back-and-forth with students about an on-campus program.

Worried about the completion rate of your new academic advising surveys? Chatbots can help with that, too.

Surveys sent through email are unlikely to produce high completion rates because today’s students don’t always check their inbox. But text message surveys? 98% of text messages are read within 15 minutes of being sent, and at West Texas A&M University, a housing survey sent through their chatbot “Thunder” yielded a response rate of about 50% – the highest they’d ever seen!

With a revised advising model, staff training, and an AI-powered chatbot, your students will feel heard and supported every step of their college journey.

Interested in adding the chatbot “cherry on top” to your new student advising method? Schedule a demo with our team today and learn how a chatbot can add to your institution’s student success efforts.