9 Ways To Improve Student Experience in Career Education
Ask anyone who works at a school what they love about their job, and often, the answer is the same: “Working with students and helping them succeed.”
While student success is a top priority for career education programs, student experience is a close second.
When students enjoy your school and have a good experience, they’re more likely to:
- Complete their program
- Overcome challenges along the way
- Recommend your school to prospective students
Doubling down on student experience is also one of the top pieces of advice Edward Cramp, Managing Partner of Duane Morris, gives schools in the face of changing borrower defense regulations.
“Many compliance issues can be addressed by doing the basic blocking and tackling to deliver the best education possible,” said Edward. “Recognizing the student as a customer is important.”
But a good student experience doesn’t just happen by chance. It requires planning, strategy, and regular updates as your student population changes.
Here are nine things that career education programs can do to improve student experience:
1. Go mobile to meet students where they are
98% of Americans aged 18-24 own a smartphone, and 97% of Americans aged 25-34 own one.
When smartphones became prevalent in students’ pockets, they were seen as a distraction and something that should be removed from the classroom. Now, students use their mobile phones as a replacement for computers and most paper processes. Instead of paying their bills via mail or checking their bank accounts at a local branch, they use mobile applications.
Younger students have even grown up with tech in the classroom, like iPads, educational apps, and more. Going from a tech-forward school where they have complete progress visibility to a school with paper sign-in sheets and limited progress visibility is a culture shock and creates a less-than-ideal student experience.
Leveraging a mobile application that allows students to check in and out of class, record their skills, and track their progress creates an experience more aligned with what the modern student expects.
Plus, once you’ve gone mobile, you can….
2. Gamefiy the learning experience
Fitness trackers motivate people to get in more steps or to move around by sending push notifications or featuring rings and progress bars. Filling up the progress bars provides a feeling of accomplishment and pride. The same can be said for the student experience.
By providing students with game-like visualizations, you’re helping them see how much they’ve accomplished in their journey and how close they are to achieving their goals, motivating them to stay on track.
International Salon and Spa Academy (ISSA) uses CourseKey’s mobile app to give students an educational fitness tracker. According to ISSA, the students regularly compare their progress on CourseKey. When one student realized they were falling behind their peers and would not graduate at the same time as their friends, that student put in the extra effort to catch up and get back on track to experience graduation with their friends.
When students don’t have progress visibility, they don’t have the resources they need to make this proactive effort.
3. Regular check ins to measure and improve satisfaction
One of the most effective ways to improve student experience is to ask them about their experience directly through student satisfaction surveys. Satisfaction surveys allow you to uncover roadblocks in the student journey that you may not have otherwise found.
For example, when leaders at Legacy Education surveyed their students, they received feedback that the microwaves in the student breakroom needed to be fixed. Students would return to class hungry, making it more challenging to learn. Legacy Education quickly replaced the microwaves and was met with positive student feedback.
Many organizations only survey students after every module or at a midpoint and miss out on critical data from between surveys. Increasing survey frequency will ensure that no student issues slip through the cracks. One of the easiest ways to increase survey frequency is to automate student surveying. With CourseKey’s forms tool, you can automatically distribute surveys:
- At a specific frequency, like weekly or monthly
- After a student completes a certain number of hours
- After a student completes certain skills
By automating survey distribution and data aggregation, your team can increase survey frequency while decreasing workload, giving them more time to analyze student results and implement exciting improvements to the student experience.
4. Make it fun!
Students choose trade and career education programs because they want a fast track to an in-demand career, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun while doing it!
Create fun engagement opportunities throughout the journey, like study parties, holiday celebrations, contests, and more. For example, the Texas School of Phlebotomy had a costume contest to celebrate Halloween. The winner embodied the spirit of their phlebotomy program and had fun while doing it!
5. Ensure opportunities for one-on-one coaching
Students who have a good relationship with their instructors and advisors are more likely to have a good experience in their program and persevere when times get tough.
Reducing the administrative burden of attendance, grades, and other data entry from instructors and advisors, in turn, gives them more time to focus on success. Bellus Academy, a beauty and wellness school in California, implemented CourseKey to automate attendance processes and remove the burden from instructors, much to the appreciation of both instructors and students.
“My job is to bring out the best in my students because sometimes they don’t know what they’re capable of. With CourseKey, I can focus more on my students and not worry about the time or attendance,” said Irma Liras, a Spa Nails Instructor at Bellus Academy.
6. Analyze your data and identify areas of improvement
One of the upsides of compliance regulations is that you likely collect significant data on your student’s attendance, progress, and status. Leverage this data to analyze your student journey and see if there are any trends around when students drop out or similarities in the students who drop out.
For example, Nightingale College found that students who scored below a certain threshold on entrance exams struggled with their program. They implemented pre-requisite courses for these students to help them learn some concepts that proved challenging later. While this program is still in its early stages, the nursing school is seeing signs of success.
7. Infuse positivity throughout the student journey
Positivity has a direct impact on student success. Regular compliments and positivity help students build confidence, benefiting them in school and beyond. It empowers them to persist through challenges and allows them to shine during job interviews.
Instructors and staff members will always compliment a student when the opportunity arises. However, organizations need a more structured approach to promoting positivity and ensuring that every student receives consistent encouragement.
One way to address this gap is by implementing automated, positive intervention messaging. By strategically incorporating automation along the student journey, such as when they get a good grade or maintain an attendance streak, you can create a culture of positivity.
8. Provide wrap around services
Students won’t have a great experience if they’re stressed and distracted by childcare, transportation issues, or struggling to purchase food. While these factors are beyond your school walls, they ultimately impact the student’s overall experience.
Providing wrap-around services, like an onsite childcare center or bus passes, will go a long way in showing students that you understand their needs and are invested in their education.
Providing wrap-around services requires significant upfront investment. If you’re unable to make that initial investment, you can partner with others, like a local food bank to provide some of these services onsite. Once you have a network of support resources for students you can…
9. Create a resource library
Wrap-around services and engagement opportunities won’t impact experience if the students don’t know about them.
Make sure your students are aware of the resources/services your school provides and the resources/services that are available to them within their community by creating a digital resource library.
A resource library can include wrap-around services and/or educational resources like study groups, writing labs, resume workshops, and more.
To ensure students are aware of the resources available to them, you can build out a resource library “checklist” in the same application they use for their day-to-day work. You can make these resources optional or a required part of their journey if you’d like them to attend a set number of workshops or tutoring sessions. Learn more about digital resource libraries.
Using CourseKey to improve student experience
CourseKey helps 300+ vocational education campuses across the country improve student experience with mobile-first, student-first educational tools. Users call CourseKey “a fitness tracker” for student education, with one student user saying:
“CourseKey shows me how far I’ve come and how close I am to achieving my goals.”
Request a demo to learn more about improving student experience with CourseKey.