Five Best Practices for Back to School Readiness
It’s ‘Back to School’ season and institutions across the country are now focused on new student orientations, student success strategies, and ways to increase student engagement.
Creating optimal student experiences is always a top priority for colleges and universities, and this is especially true at the start of the fall term. Unifyed has created a list of Best Practices to help your institution prepare for this time of year.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
New students are eager and usually have lots of questions! A thoughtful, and well-prepared FAQ list is a great way for your new students to easily find answer to the most often asked questions. Email your FAQ list out ahead of time and make it readily available on your website. Your counselors and admissions team will thank you!
- Student ID Information
Today’s technology relies heavily on authenticating your students using their ID number. Ensure that your new students know their ID number and that they understand that they will use this number to access many details about their enrollment, including their courses, fees, financial aid, etc.
- New Student Orientation
Welcoming new students is an opportunity to help students to know how to navigate around the campus and introduce them to their new community. Orientation program helps uncover questions that students have, provide them information on campus resources, programs, and services. It helps the students to start their journey with clear guidance and directions.
- Welcome Back Event
Student engagement plays a vital role in keeping both new and continuing students interested and motivated, especially after a long break. Hosting a ‘Welcome back event’ is an easy way to ensure that your students have a successful start this fall.
- IT Department Checklist
With each new semester, institutions typically see a spike in the number of users/students logging into the college/university portal. Ensuring that all of your systems are updated, and your network and bandwidth are checked, should be a top priority for your IT Department.
We interviewed a few members institutions to find out how they prepare for ‘Back to School’.
S.K. Calkins, Director, Information Support Services at Community College Philadelphia says, “With back to school around the corner, we start communicating with students about getting their portal login IDs, help them obtain class schedules etc. This is critical as students will get charged $$$ if they do not drop in time. We also remind them with their course syllabus to ensure they have purchased the books needed for their courses. We hold a few events on campus welcoming the students and making college FUN. Our IT department would most likely have all systems implemented/updated and all other departments have their information updated”.
Alexander Johnson, Network Administrator at Oklahoma Wesleyan University says, “At OKWU, back to school generally starts with training staff and faculty on net equipment, remind staff of cyber safety and security policies and practices. Our main effort goes in making sure all systems have been updated. We coordinate with our admissions and campus life offices to make sure that students have access to wired & wireless networks and understand how they/their professors will use these systems. We update our documentation and disseminate the same to ensure that campus community member have access to self-service help documentation. We run through our DR plan and exercise an outage to test response time and backup systems. We also scale-up resources to accommodate the additional load on locally hosted applications. Finally, we make sure new students are aware of the help we offer and how contact with us for any query”.
Rebeca Renderos, Web Portal Administrator at University of La Verne says, “We typically like to cover three main areas – Communication, Design Enhancements, IT Priorities. We collaborate with various departments such as Admissions to make sure our content on our website is up to date. We educate departments on any upgrades or design changes that will impact any incoming or current students. Design and functional enhancements are done to our student web portal. We upgrade to a new theme every year to improve the user experience. At the start of the semester we like to make sure that our systems are able to handle the load times. We collaborate with Unifyed to ensure all certificates are current and that our overall portal resources such as disk space are sufficient. A little preparation goes a long way.”
In conclusion, “Back to School” is an exciting time for any institution regardless of size, and even though there are many moving parts to be managed, with proper planning institutions can easily be ready so that they can focus on enjoying this exciting time with their students.
At Unifyed, we remain committed to consistently enhancing our product features to best ensure our institutional partners provide awesome student, faculty, and staff experiences. We would love to hear what your institution does to prepare for ‘Back to School’.