Survey Says: What Students Think Of The Career College Experience

Have you ever wondered what students really think about their career college experiences? Of course you have. That’s why you use evaluation surveys to get their feedback at the end of a module. But do you know how your students’ experience measures up against the average career college experience?

To help, we opened a survey to current and former career college students around the country. From that survey, a few overarching themes emerged.

Student Support

The connections students were able to make with instructors and peers were identified as one of the most impactful parts of the student experience. When asked about the positive aspects of their experience, almost every respondent identified connecting with instructors and peers as highly valuable.

Students explained that they enjoyed how close they had become with their classmates and how friendly and supportive their professors are. Knowing there was an extensive support system on campus in the form of instructors, counseling, and other resources helped make their experience feel comfortable and easier. 

The connections that students make with their classmates and their instructors are a huge part of student support. Having instructors that not only inspire students and teach them about their desired careers, but also empathize with them makes the learning experience much more positive and effective. Graduates are more likely to retain what they learned from instructors they have positive relationships with than from those who are either just there to teach or, worse, provide a negative classroom experience.

In addition, creating connections with classmates gives students a sense of community and friendship. They don’t feel like they’re going through their programs alone, giving them more motivation to show up to class. Classmates are also valuable resources for students, because they can ask each other questions and help each other learn.

Students are highly appreciative of strong support and are frustrated when school staff display a lack of support or empathy for the students. Schools can facilitate or bolster the connection between students and instructors by increasing communication options through apps on mobile devices. All of the students that answered the questionnaire said they brought their mobile devices to class each day.

Standardization and Consistency

Not all students who completed the survey completed their programs. Some students had a tough time completing their career college programs because they had other external priorities demanding focus in their lives, such as one or more jobs and/or a child in school, that made it hard to consistently be in class on time. As tough as it is already for students, that difficulty is often exacerbated by a lack of consistency and standardization in different aspects of students’ programs, especially when practice regarding attendance differs from written policy. 

An interesting thing to note is that while most career college programs have staff policies regarding contacting absent students, none of the students who answered the questionnaire said they were contacted by their school after they were absent from a class. Each school has their own policies when dealing with absent students, but it’s good to keep in mind how impactful outreach can be on students’ performance and to make sure that policies are being put into practice.

Issues With Attendance Tracking

When we asked about attendance taking methods, we got a wide variety of answers including roll call, paper sign-in sheets, or completing an assignment in class. Of course, each school will have their own ways of tracking student time and attendance, but the student feedback made it clear that consistency across their programs would have been beneficial. 

Some students said their programs didn’t take attendance on a daily basis and that it was based on instructor preference. The students using sign-in sheets voiced some frustrations with that method of taking attendance, saying they weren’t consistently used and when they were being used, they would be at the front of the class to be filled out but the instructor didn’t announce to the class that the sheet was open for check ins. Another student said they didn’t like that they had to be in class right on time to check in to the sign in sheet. On days that they came in a few minutes late, they weren’t able to check in because the sheet had been collected already. The way these processes are set up causes students to focus on whether they’ll receive credit for their attendance instead of on the actual course material.

A good way to eliminate these issues would be to transfer the responsibility of conducting attendance from the instructors to the students themselves through a mobile attendance solution. By having the ability to check in on an app, students can check in whenever they get to class and the app will record the exact time students arrived and spent checked in to class. Using a mobile attendance solution will give students peace of mind when it comes to if they’re receiving credit for the hours they’re in class each day. Instructors won’t have to worry about taking attendance and can focus on teaching the class material.

Disorganization and Inconsistencies

Many students voiced their grievances about the inconsistency and disorganization in their programs. One student said that it’s frustrating to go to class knowing that standards and assignments and schedules are constantly changing on a daily basis. Another said they are constantly receiving last minute emails about documents that need to be turned in for clinical sites or class assignments. Unexpected responsibilities are stressful for any student, but they’re especially difficult for those that have other obligations outside of class because it’s tough to exercise good time management when schedules and deadlines are shifting.

The Vitality Of The Feedback Loop

It is not always possible to achieve 100% consistency in every aspect of the programs a school offers to their students. Students witness many flaws in the system that they’d like to bring to the attention of leadership, but in many cases, school leadership is not easily accessible to reach out to and communicate with. So students don’t try. That is a big issue and a missed opportunity for both students and schools. Students want to feel like their experience matters and their opinions are being heard. Improving ways to get feedback from students will mean schools are able to receive valuable insights they can use to improve their programs overall.

Room For Future Adjustments

While students had a lot to say about their career college experiences, two overall themes stuck out above the rest. Programs with inconsistent processes like sporadic time and attendance tracking and unpredictable schedule changes make it even tougher for students to complete their programs. But the connections and bonds that students form with their instructors and peers are incredibly impactful on students’ progression and lives in general.

To understand how CourseKey can help your school uncover insight into where simple standardization can be made to decrease inconsistencies and facilitate the communication between instructors and students, schedule a personal demo below.

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2 Comments

  1. maria Viramontes de January 9, 2020 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed reading the results of the survey. We should all attend to students request for consistency.
    Thank you for sharing. Dr. Marin

  2. Kevin D. January 9, 2020 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Great read Alex! Thanks for sharing. Disorganization and Inconsistencies insight was most intriguing. A messy or inconsistent process workflow can be frustrating to all customers – student, staff, and faculty.

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