Learner demographics have changed significantly over the past decade, which has brought change to how institutions connect with their students. Gone are the days of a certain type of learner, anybody from any walk of life can now attend college or university, and they all must be catered for in different ways.
The fact that learning requires a significant commitment of time and energy from students presents a considerable challenge for commuter students. They have educational goals that are just as high as those of residential students and require to be just as involved in the campus community. However, their lives consist of balancing many competing commitments, including those such as family, work, and other responsibilities.
Students who live on campus have 24x7 access to everything they need. The library is usually within walking distance, travel routes and their areas of study are a stone's throw away. Engaging with students who don’t have these luxuries is where a digital strategy including personalised communications is essential.
We have looked into how engaging with off-campus students can increase retention figures and how you can help make them feel part of the community. This has been broken down into 3 main areas:
Travelling to and from college or university is one of the biggest disengagement factors for students living off-campus. Travelling for long periods of time to get to a lecture to then find it cancelled is not just a waste of time, but money and effort too.
Adopting a digital communications strategy and enabling the ability for staff to post real-time information regarding academic details as well as the likes of bus routes and times, parking, shared travel services etc. will start a student’s day in the right way. Having the information in the palm of their hands puts travellers at ease and gains the trust of those who don’t live a 5-minute walk away.
Other required services such as bursaries, security and childcare should also be easily accessible online too, every student deserves the best experience possible. Meeting all students needs is key to success.
Having access to academic materials online is no longer unusual for institutions. Students rarely achieve their best results from learning within a structured framework, and benefit when not restricted by lecture times. This is much more obvious when applied to off-campus students.
Introducing a digital campus with messaging services direct to mobile phones such as push notifications enables your organisation to deliver personalised information in a timely way. Often your students and staff need to be made aware of information instantly. Push notifications are quick to create and send. They are simple, uncomplicated messages that provide only the essential information, making them user-friendly and effective. They are also free from send costs and can be targeted.
Access to resources such as study rooms, printers and computers also adds an element of efficiency for students living off-campus. They can plan their study timetable before they arrive and will know which areas of the campus are free for them to utilise.
Feeling part of a campus community isn’t just all about academic life. If anything, the most important reason to engage with students off-campus is the main reason they may attend in the first place.
Inviting students to events and activities through the likes of social media feeds, emails and other streams of communication will make them feel welcomed and valued. Putting them in contact with other individuals who share the same interests will create a friendship group who can enjoy their student journey together.
Sometimes it is difficult to build a rapport with fellow students if you don’t live on campus, the use of digital communication will assist in bridging this gap.
Would you like to implement a digital campus and engage your off-campus students?