Four College Experience Takeaways for Higher Educational Professionals

While college administrators around the globe are breathing a sigh of relief as the limitations imposed by the pandemic ease, the fact remains that the events of 2020 and 2021 have fundamentally changed what students and parents expect from the college experience. As tuition prices continue to rise, and higher education online courses become available for low or no cost through global purveyors such as Coursera, EdX, Udemy, and SkillShare (to name a few), the traditional college experience may soon become a thing of the past — but does it have to be that way? Not if higher education institutions pay close attention to the feedback about the college student experience in the pandemic and adjust their services accordingly.

An online college student appears frustrated and tired.1. The Traditional College Experience in 2020 Was Lacking

In research recently conducted and published by Business Wire, the typical college experience drew negative reviews from college students and parents for how institutions handled the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the changes imposed by the coronavirus outbreak, many college students are openly questioning the value of a college degree. Less than 20% of those surveyed indicated their 2020 student experience in the pandemic was worth the cost of their tuition.

2. Positive Outcomes of COVID: Students Embrace Higher Education Online

While college students may not have felt they received fair value for their tuition dollars, they did appreciate the flexibility of having access to higher education online courses. Moreover, many students expressed a strong desire to maintain that level of accessibility as they continue their studies in the years ahead. That said, all students did not experience the ease of technological connectivity. A full third of respondents indicated they found challenges accessing their online courses and did not feel fully supported in academic tutoring, writing and math assistance, and connecting with course advisors, career services, and financial aid.

3. Learning and Teaching Makes Strides in Higher Education Online Courses

A woman with glasses teaches an online courseThe third significant finding of the student experience in the pandemic was that college students overwhelmingly want an education rich with teacher feedback, transferable job skills, and hands-on, active learning.  Throughout 2020, college students enrolled in courses that provided ongoing connection and feedback from the teacher are more likely to perceive their tuition dollars as being well spent. And as a result of that positive view, they rated their overall college experience in 2020 as positive and their opinions of higher education online courses as good or excellent learning opportunities.  

4. The College Experience Is Much More than Campus Activities

An online teacher records a lecture.

Before the pandemic, college administrators would often go to great lengths to emphasize and promote their institution’s campus activities, athletic teams, clubs and organizations, and residential living options. However, as the pandemic effectively closed campuses for awhile and forced schools to operate under strict limits upon reopening, the typical college experience changed dramatically. When asked to reflect upon their student experience in the pandemic, college students clearly articulated that the presence or lack of on-campus experiences and activities was less important than the role of their instructors or their learning experiences.

Need to Improve Your College Experience for 2022? QLess Can Help.

QLess offers a queue management system designed to support your school’s admissions, career services, and academic offices by virtually scheduling appointments. QLess easily integrates into a school’s website and allows students to join a virtual queue whenever they need to meet with faculty or staff. Students can connect to QLess at any time through their computer or smartphone to see when appointments are available and reserve their spot. The QLess app sends emails and SMS reminders to students as their time slot approaches, reducing “no-shows.” If a student needs to cancel, QLess notifies the faculty or staff member.

Here are our top 6 ways to effectively use queue management to address the research findings of the college student experience in the pandemic and what they expect for the future.

A student watches an online class during the pandemic.

1. Reduce or remove the issues many students have with enrolling and staying focused on their college education. Scheduling more higher education online courses with options to attend classes either in person or online provides opportunities for all types of college students to create a college experience of their choosing.

2. Both faculty and student service providers need to develop skills to build community and have effective communication in a virtual environment. While some students want a traditional, on-campus college experience, many do not, and the desires of incoming students are beginning to change. An online college student with laptop and notebook.

3. Staff and faculty need to develop connections with their students and engage them with meaningful, hands-on learning activities that translate into completing their degree and preparing for a career.

4. Active learning needs to be emphasized in all higher education online courses. Students not only enjoy the engagement it offers, but its inclusion leads to higher retention rates, career placement, and alumni satisfaction. While lectures still have a role to play, they should be used to support or lead into an active learning project.

A higher education online student smiling at her laptop.5. Class engagement tools like online chat, discussion boards, and polling tools should continue to be used when in-person classes resume. These digital tools help all students engage and are especially beneficial to those less comfortable speaking out during a class discussion. 

6. Provide feedback frequently and regularly so students can see and monitor their performance and reach out for assistance at the first sign of difficulty. Providing academic and student support services when a student most needs them is crucial to keep them motivated and engaged and improve the overall college experience.

Ready to Take Your College Experience to the Next Level?

QLess not only helps schools optimize appointments, but it also boosts student satisfaction and retention outcomes. Best of all, the QLess platform seamlessly integrates with your institution’s website without expensive technical support. If you’re looking to apply the insights learned from the student experience in the pandemic to your school’s advantage, contact QLess for a product demo. You’ll quickly see how queue management software helps you reach enrollment and retention goals, despite post-pandemic challenges.