What's On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report
1IR Kn owl edge S eriesWhat’s On Their Minds?Voice of the Student ReportPublished by IntelliResponseTap into the Online Questionsand Concerns of Modern HigherEducation Students“Knowledge is of two kinds. We knowa subject ourselves, or we know wherewe can find information on it.”– Samuel Johnson
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 2Table of ContentsI About This Report.............................................................................................................. 3II The Data........................................................................................................................... 4III Notable Trends – Highlights and Commentary from the Top Questions.................................. 5 i. Prospective Students..................................................................................................... 6 . Overall Areas of Interest..................................................................................................... 6 Key Trending Questions: The Story Behind the Query..................................................... 8 Trend Data versus School Data: How Administrators Apply the Information...................... 8 ii. Current Students. ......................................................................................................... 11 . Overall Areas of Interest............................................................................................. 11 Key Trending Questions: The Story Behind the Query................................................... 12 Trend Data versus School Data: How Administrators Apply the Information.................... 12 iii. Financial Aid.................................................................................................................. 15 Overall Areas of Interest............................................................................................. 15 Key Trending Questions: The Story Behind the Query................................................... 16 Trend Data versus School Data: How Administrators Apply the Information.................... 16 iv. IT Help Desk.................................................................................................................. 19 . Overall Areas of Interest............................................................................................. 19 Key Trending Questions: Telling the Story of the Future. ............................................... 20 . Trend Data versus School Data: How Administrators Apply the Information.................... 20IV Resulting Implications – What Does it All Mean?................................................................ 23 Cater to Web Savvy Students...................................................................................... 23 Don’t Forget the Parents. ........................................................................................... 23 . Why is student satisfaction so important?................................................................... 23 How is customer satisfaction delivered online?............................................................ 24V Actionable Next Steps – What Can Be Done?. ................................................................... 25 . 1. Know What an Enhanced Online Student Experience Should Look Like...................... 25 2. Overcome Silos of Information Bottlenecks. ............................................................ 25 . 3. Include Feedback Opportunity................................................................................. 25 4. Test and Test Again!............................................................................................... 25 5. Right-Channel Your Audience................................................................................... 25 6. Make Your Phone Number Accessible...................................................................... 25
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 3I About This ReportThe Dawn of the 21st Century CampusSamuel Johnson’s centuries-old observation onknowledge couldn’t be more applicable to the mindsetof today’s modern student.When students seek to find information these The 2009 Voice of the Student Report containsdays, they turn first, and often exclusively, to one more than three years of compiled data andplace: the Internet. They’re going there in droves commentary to provide a unique overview ofto ask questions. They expect rapid, complete, what is really on the mind of the modern studentand accurate answers and desire the ability to when they are seeking answers from current orserve themselves using technology, or interact prospective schools.with their peers to get information online. Today’sstudents are far more comfortable interacting on What you’ll find in this report:a social networking site or on their school website than on the phone or even via standard email • Notable Trends in Higher Education – communication, let alone making the journey in Highlights from hundreds of the top onlineperson to a campus office or department. questions posed by students at schools across North America, derived from aggregate dataThis is both an opportunity and a challenge drawn from tens of millions of posed questions,for today’s higher education institution. The • Departmental Impact – Key insights impactingopportunity lies with applying technologies a wide variety of departments and issuesthat exist today to make it not only possible, but effecting students and staff in Higherexceedingly cost effective, to make information Education, andaccessible to students when and where they seek • Actionable Next Steps – Recommendations toit – in digital form. The challenge is that any improve the student experience at your school.information that appears in any way cumbersometo access will reflect poorly on the institution, andinstitutions must deliver information across anincreasingly wider array of online communicationchannels, including blogs, social media networks,forums and mobile devices.Today’s schools must be ready to respond withinformation quickly and effectively in order to keepup with this rapidly evolving landscape. The 2009Voice of the Student Report from IntelliResponseuncovers, for the first time, key insights into thestories behind the online questions posed bymillions of students across North America.These students are sending a clear message: theweb is now the primary point of contact betweenthem and the outside world, so as institutions, wehad better take notice.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 4II The DataData used in this report was aggregated from tensof millions of online questions posed to NorthAmerica’s top higher education institutions. Keydata is categorized and presented, in the followingfour areas of interest:i) Prospective Studentsii) Current Studentsiii) Financial Aidiv) IT Support
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 5III Notable Trends – Highlights and Commentary from the Top QuestionsWhat’s most revealing (and most useful to schooladministrators) is that there are questions withineach of the four major data categories that aresurprising, unexpected, and/or point to macrotrends in student behavior. By understanding thesequestions as indicators of what is going on “outthere”, institutions can have better insight into theirstudent constituents (current and prospective).Online questions can provide a real narrative forwhat life is like for the modern student, and thebeliefs, values and motivations that shape theirviews of the world and drive their behavior.With that, we present our key data findings andhighlights from these questions across the fourcategories, beginning with prospective students.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 6i. Prospective StudentsOverall Areas of InterestFor prospective students, insights into the innerworkings of potential target schools are key, andmany go directly online to do initial and ongoingresearch. Questions about campus life, how classesare delivered, extra-curricular activities and keyacademic focus are all of primary importance toprospective students. This speaks loudly to theimportance of managing the student experience,and your institution’s brand, particularly in termsof recruitment.As could be expected, the application processand the associated academic requirementsfor acceptance are also of key interest. Manystudents feel uninformed when it comes to theadministrative processes involved in applying andgaining acceptance to a prospective school.Figure 1 (next page) illustrates the degree towhich each major category of questions is asked byprospective students during their school selectionprocess. Figure 2 (next page) identifies the top20 overall questions being asked by perspectivestudents across all schools.
What’s On Their Minds? of the Student Report 7i. Prospective Students Figure 1 Areas of Interest for Prospective Students 4% 15% Key Topical Interests 38% Programs and Campus Life 15% The Application Process Academic Requirements 28% Costs & Financial Aid Contacting the School Figure 2 Top 20 Ranked Questions Overall Rank Question 1 What majors or academic programs do you offer? 2 What are your admission requirements? 3 How much is tuition? 4 How do I apply? 5 When is the application deadline? 6 What are your ACT / SAT requirements? 7 Do you have an Academic Calendar? 8 How do I apply as a transfer student? 9 How do I contact a student, staff member or department? 10 What is the status of my application? 11 Do you require a personal statement or letters of recommendation? 12 What courses do you offer? 13 How do I order my transcript? 14 What is the academic profile of the freshman class? 15 How do I apply for financial aid? 16 How many students are at [school name]? 17 How can I find out more about [school name]? 18 What are your course and credit hour requirements? 19 How do I register for classes? 20 How do I transfer credits from another institution?
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 8i. Prospective StudentsKey Trending Questions:The Story Behind the QueryFrom aggregating the data into a top 200 question How do I arrange for a campus tour?list, we combed through and have identified (Question Rank: 28)key topical questions that speak to larger trends This is a simple request which comes up hundreds,effecting modern life in higher education – from the if not thousands of times, across campuses, andviewpoint of the perspective student. Below are some via school web sites, Facebook pages and mobilekey trends to take note of when planning enrollment phones. Many times students do not know how toand recruitment efforts for your institution. make these arrangements. Obviously, an inability to provide the right information regarding campusHow can I find out more about your school? tours and school access represents a major lost(Question Rank: 17) opportunity.A seemingly obvious question, but one fraught withchallenges in a Web 3.0 world – where the students Why should I choose your school?and the community have the power to choose like (Question Rank: 35)never before. How does your institution answer this Modern education is a competitive business.question online, or via social media channels? Are Students are more discerning than ever andyou leveraging Facebook, student forums, Twitter have a tremendous amount of choice for whereand mobile phones to create an environment for they choose to spend their time and dollars. Theprospective students to gain access to your institution boldness of this question begs another, how willon their terms, in their “language”? your school differentiate itself in 2010 or 2011? Students will want to know!How do I transfer credits from another institution?(Question Rank: 20)This question speaks to a macro trend in the Trend Data versus School Data:education market. Many students continue to How Administrators Apply the Informationtransfer from one school to another in North As a school administrator, do a quick self assessment.America, and retention and loyalty remain areas of Can a prospective student on your school’s web siteconcern for many schools. The relative importance easily and quickly receive an accurate and timelyof such questions drives home the need for a answer to any of the above key trending questions?commitment to enhanced student experience Even more importantly, do you know if prospectiveand retention. students are asking these questions of your institution? If not, just what exactly are they curious about?Do you offer distance learning courses?(Question Rank: 26) You may have found the top 20 overall questionsThe popularity of this question underlines the from perspective students of interest (figure 2) toimportance of distance and life-long learning to the compare against your own list. But this is only amodern student. Technology has changed the way fraction of the overall picture an institution needsstudents educate themselves and access learning to form a holistic view of where their school standsopportunities, meaning schools must now recognize in addressing new issues and trends with prospectivethe importance of distance learning in terms of students (or any student audience for that matter).lifetime customer value, school brand loyalty and For example, the key trending questions are fromoverall adoption by the modern student base. questions mostly ranked beyond the top 20 line – the “long tail” of student queries often provides the biggest challenge for most institutions. This underscores the importance of digging deeper – beyond the top 20 and key trending questions – to address your prospective students’ unique needs as they pertain to your school.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 9i. Prospective StudentsThis is where the real payoff comes – in creating You may find that your school’s top 20 rankeda platform for students to ask questions that are questions from prospective students will likelyimportant to them. The result is unparalleled have a lot of similarities with any other school’sinsights into the topics, ideas and issues that are list. (Interestingly, this is not the case for currentimportant to your institution. students.) Figure 3 below shows an example of just three schools’ top 20 questions from our dataThis fact belies the inadequacy of simply posting pool. Apart from a few notable differences, noticeanswers to frequently asked questions – as many just how similar the lists are from one school to theof these lists pose little assistance to the inquiring next. Common questions on topics like majors,student, who is armed with questions of her own tuition, scholarships and applications dominateregarding information that is important to her. each top 20 list. Figure 3 Sample of Top 20 Questions from 3 SchoolsSchool A School B School C Rank Question Rank Question Rank Question 1 What majors does the school offer? 1 What majors or academic programs 1 How much is tuition? 2 How much is tuition? do you offer? 2 Financial Aid General Information 3 What are your admission 2 What are your admission requirements? requirements? 3 When is registration? 4 How do I apply? 3 When is the application deadline? 4 How do I check the status of 5 When is the application deadline? 4 Do you have an Academic Calendar? my refund? 6 How do I apply as a transfer 5 How do I apply? 5 What is the process of applying student? 6 Do you require a personal statement for admission? 7 What are your ACT / SAT or letters of recommendation? requirements? 6 When is commencement? 7 What is the status of my application? 8 What is the academic profile of 8 How do I apply as a transfer student? 7 What majors and minors do you offer? the freshman class? 9 How many students are at the 9 What is the average ACT or SAT score? 8 How do I drop/withdraw a class? school? 10 How do I transfer credits from 9 When is my bill due? 10 How can I find out more about another institution? the school? 11 How much is tuition? 10 How do I apply for scholarships? 11 What are your course and credit 12 Do you prefer the ACT or SAT for 11 When do classes start? hour requirements? admission? 12 What scholarships do you offer? 12 How do I apply for financial aid? 13 Is [school name] a multi-campus 13 Where can I get information on system? residence halls? 13 When can I apply for admission? 14 How do I contact a student, staff 14 How can I contact university staff member or department? 14 How do I register for classes? or departments? 15 How do I arrange for a campus tour? 15 How can I view my bill? 15 What is the application process? 16 What are the requirements / classes 16 Will my credits transfer? 16 How can I pay my bill? for my major? 17 Where can I find information about 17 How do I contact the 17 What is the status of my application? graduate, professional, and continuing education programs? Admissions Office? 18 How do I order a transcript? 18 Do you offer distance learning 18 Why should I choose your school? courses? 19 How do I submit my high school 19 How do I see my academic transcript transcript? and GPA? 19 What is the academic calendar? 20 What classes does the school offer? 20 How do I register for classes? 20 How do I declare a major/minor?
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 10i. Prospective StudentsHowever, once you look pass the top 20 questions,you will find similarities fade quickly. The furtheryou look beyond the top 20 questions, the moreyou can get to the heart of the unique questionsbeing asked of your unique school by yourprospective students. Figure 4 below illustrates thevast differences in the ranked 90 to 100 questionsbeing asked at the same three sample schools bytheir prospective students. Figure 4 Sample of Ranked 90 to 100 Questions from 3 SchoolsSchool A School B School C Rank Question Rank Question Rank Question 90 Do you have summer camps and 90 What is the student to faculty ratio? 90 How can I talk/meet with an programs for kids and young adults? admissions adviser? 91 Can I apply online? 91 How do I get my ID card? 91 Does the school require vaccinations? 92 What are the requirements for the 92 How do I get my student number 92 What is the school like? dean’s list? and PIN number? 93 Where is the bookstore and when do 93 Where can I get information on 93 Can I buy my books online? I get books? recreational sports? 94 What courses do you offer? 94 Do you have a health center on 94 Can I apply online? campus? 95 What is the school mascot? 95 How do I contact Student Business 95 How safe is campus? Services? 96 What are your school colors? 96 How do I reapply? 96 Do you offer scholarships? 97 How do I get academic help? 97 What are some fun things to do 97 Where is the Student Center? in town? 98 What student organizations do 98 Where can I eat on campus? you offer? 98 Who is the school president? 99 How do I appeal my admissions 99 What are the different web-based decision? 99 Do you have a Work-Study Program? class instruction classifications? 100 How do I qualify for the Presidential 100 Do you have an internship program? 100 How are my transfer credits evaluated? Scholarship Competition?Clearly, these core questions highlight a need for In another school’s example, (not shown here)customized, school specific information that a administrators noticed increasing questions aboutstandard FAQ program could never provide. where to park on their campus. This led to additionalFor example, question 95 from School A highlights parking allocation for students, making the schoola possible need for that school to better address more accessible.security concerns on their campus. Visit the “Resulting Implications – What Does it All Mean?” section of this report on page 23 for further analysis and knowledge on what to do next. Or continue below to find out what’s on the minds of our next key demographic: current students.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 11ii. Current StudentsOverall Areas of InterestPerhaps no single stakeholder group exemplifies the media and mobile) information delivery to provideneed and opportunity for self-service information students with the answers they need, while reducingon the 21st century campus more than the current costs and staff workload in key student-facingstudent base. Close to 75% of all online questions departments.asked by this group deal with administrative,informational issues of one sort or another. This Figure 5 illustrates the degree to which each majorpresents an ideal opportunity for institutions to category of questions is asked by current students.standardize (across multiple communication Figure 6 identifies the top 20 overall questions thatchannels such as contact centers, web site, social are asked by current students across schools. Figure 5 Areas of Interest for Current Students 11% Key Topical Interests 15% 44% Campus Life - Academic Transfers and Administration Campus Life - Housing, Social, Careers 30% Program Costs & Payment Figure 6 Top 20 Ranked Questions Overall Rank Question 1 What types of majors or academic programs do you offer? 2 Where is the academic calendar? 3 How much is tuition? It is interesting to note that a prospective 4 How do I register? student question, “How do I apply?” 5 How can I pay tuition? ranked #11, appears within the top 6 Where can I find information about my college or department? 20 current student questions. This 7 Where can I find out which textbooks I need? highlights the importance of making 8 How do I find a specific building on campus? information accessible across a school’s 9 Where can I get my Final Grades? web site property. Students, prospective 10 How do I schedule my courses? or current, could ask their questions 11 How do I apply? anywhere on a school web site during 12 What/Where is the Student Employment & Career Centre? 13 When is the Final Exam Schedule available? a visit. 14 How do I request my transcript? 15 What are your admission requirements? 16 How can I contact the [school name]? 17 What is [student intranet name]? 18 Where are my classes located? 19 What do I need from the school to file my taxes? 20 What is academic advising?
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 12ii. Current StudentsKey Trending Questions:The Story Behind the QueryFrom aggregating the data into a top 200 question What health and dental coverage is available?list, we combed through and have identified key (Question Rank: 25)topical questions that speak to larger trends effecting Concern over health care and medical supportmodern life in higher education from the viewpoint is rising in America, and the appearance of thisof the current student. Below are some key trends question is an example of how students’ concernsfor administrators to take note of when striving to often mirror the macro economic and socialbalance addressing student satisfaction while environment. Schools must therefore have systemsreducing costs and staff workload. in place that can respond with information quickly and effectively in order to keep up with today’sWhere is the Academic Calendar? technological, economic and social landscapes.(Question Rank: 2)The second most popular question asked amongcurrent students. This speaks to the communication Trend Data versus School Data:disconnect among school administration and their How Administrators Apply the Informationconstituents. If something as basic as an academic Unlike a prospective student – who has the singularcalendar can’t be found on a school’s web site, what goal of applying to the school in mind when she’selse can’t current students find answers to? seeking answers, current students have a vast array of intentions when they visit a school’s web site orWhat/Where is the Student Employment & Career contact a school for answers. Figure 7 (next page)Center? (Question Rank: 12) lists just three schools’ top 20 questions from ourAnother “what is” question about a service that most data pool. Each school’s list is quite distinct fromschools would almost assuredly assume their students the other.understand intimately. Student satisfaction, loyalty and retention areWhat is your grading policy? (Question Rank: 81) paramount in today’s highly competitive higherMany queries from current students deal with grades education market. This is further illustrated in theand marks. Grading, credits, transfers, classes and last section of the report on current students, wherecurriculums – many students desire immediate and “How do I apply as a transfer student?” is rankedonline access to this type of information. #8 and “How do I transfer credits from another institution?” is ranked #21. Administrators mustCan I use my own laptop? (Question Rank: 89) ask themselves how they can serve each and everyTechnology is essential in today’s environment, and current student with accuracy and efficiency. Howmany students have questions about your school’s can a school connect each of their students to thepolicies for the use of technology while attending particular answers each needs immediately withoutyour institution. Can you illustrate for them your incurring significant cost increases?leadership position on technology?How can I find my Student ID number?(Question Rank: 21)Another simple query posed literally thousandsof times. These types of common queries pose agreat opportunity for your institution to lower costs– by leveraging technology to provide a degree ofautomation to deliver answers – allowing supportstaff to focus on more complex requests.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 13ii. Current Students Figure 7 Sample of Top 20 Questions from 3 SchoolsSchool A School B School C Rank Question Rank Question Rank Question 1 What programs do you offer? 1 How much is tuition and when/how 1 How do I register for an elective course? 2 Where do I find the academic schedule do I pay it? 2 How can I get a copy of my timetable? of dates? 2 What types of housing is available and 3 How much is tuition? do we have to live on campus? 3 How do I view my grades? 4 How can I pay Tuition? 3 What are your admission requirements? 4 How is my GPA calculated? 5 How do I register? 4 What types of majors or academic 6 Where can I find information about my programs do you offer? 5 How much is tuition? college or department? 5 How do I apply or re-enter? 6 How do I apply? 7 Where can I find out which textbooks 6 How do I cancel or adjust my I need? Financial Aid? 7 How do I contact a student, staff 8 How do I find a specific building on 7 How do I get a copy of or submit my member or department? campus? transcript? 9 Where can I get my Final Grades? 8 What is your grading policy? 8 How do I know if classes are cancelled? 10 How do I schedule my courses? 9 What books do I need for my classes? 9 How can I make up a class that I failed? 11 What is the Student Employment & Can I buy them online? Career Centre? 10 What is the academic calendar? 10 How do I apply to graduate? 12 When is the Final Exam Schedule 11 Do you offer summer courses? 11 When do I register for classes? available? 13 How can I contact the school? 12 How and when do I apply and receive 12 How do I get a copy of my transcript? 14 What is [student intranet name]? financial aid? 13 How do I pay my tuition? 15 Where are my classes located? 13 Where and when are my exams? 16 What do I need from the school in 14 What is the academic calendar? 14 How can I change my timetable? order to file my Taxes? 15 How do I get a student ID card? 15 How do I drop or withdraw from a class? 17 What is academic advising? 16 When is the application deadline? 18 How do I add or drop classes or make 16 What are the fees at the school? changes to the classes that I have 17 How many students are enrolled? 17 How do I withdraw from the school? registered in? 18 Do you have a required high school GPA, SAT, ACT? What should it be? 18 What books do I need for my classes? 19 What funding options are available to pay for my education? 19 How do I register for classes? 19 How do I get a course description? 20 Where can I get a copy of the 20 How do I contact a student, staff calendar? or department? 20 Can I repeat a class?As can be expected, the questions begin to becomemore distinctive further down the top 20 list.Figure 8 (next page)lists the vast differences fromschool to school in a sample of the ranked top 90to 100 questions being asked by current students.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 14ii. Current Students Figure 8 Sample of Ranked 90 to 100 Questions from 3 SchoolsSchool A School B School C Rank Question Rank Question Rank Question 90 Does the [school name] have a 90 What varsity sports do you offer? 90 What are your policies on attendance? Registrar’s Office? 91 How diverse is your student body? 91 What is academic probation? 91 How can I find work on campus? 92 Is there a gym on campus? 92 Do you offer a Police Foundations 92 How can I get help with my writing? program? 93 Does the [school name] have 93 What is the difference between in-state exchange or study abroad programs? and out-of-state residency? 93 Does your school have a wireless network? 94 Is there a time limit for completing 94 Can I have people spend the night? a degree? 94 How do I get a [public transit name] 95 What intramural sports do you offer? discount pass? 95 How do I print documents at the University? 96 How long does it take to graduate? 95 How much will my books cost? 96 What is the deadline for registration? 97 How many credits do I need to be 96 Is there a library on campus? 97 How do I withdraw from University? considered a sophomore, junior 98 How do I graduate with Distinction or or senior? 97 What is academic standing? Honors? 98 Do you offer a payment plan? 98 Where are the computer labs? 99 How can I determine if a class is full? 99 What is your Federal School Code 99 Do you offer an English Language 100 Does the Student Employment & for financial aid? Studies program? Career Center handle interviews for on-campus recruiters? 100 How do I contact the Housing Office? 100 Do you offer co-operative education?Visit the “Resulting Implications – What Does it AllMean?” section of this report on page 23 for furtheranalysis and knowledge on what to do next.Or continue below to find out what’s on the mindsof our next key demographic: students seekingfinancial aid.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 15iii. Financial AidOverall Areas of InterestStudents concerned with financial aid are, first providing accurate information on the applicationand foremost, interested in the associated fees and process. Close to 30% of all online questions askedtuition costs for enrolling or remaining enrolled in a by students are related to the process itself, how it isparticular institution. These costs of course provide completed, what resources are available, etc.the foundation for any future decisions aroundwhich institution or financial aid options they decide Figure 9 illustrates the degree to which each majorto pursue. category of questions is asked by students seeking answers to financial aid queries. Figure 10 identifiesIn addition, it is safe to assume that most institutions the top 20 overall questions being asked by studentshave room for improvement when it comes to seeking answers to financial aid questions. Figure 9 Areas of Interest for Students Seeking Information from Financial Aid Departments 12% Key Topical Interests 26% 33% Tuition-Fee Inquiries Application Process General/Administrative 29% Government Programs Figure 10 Top 20 Ranked Questions Overall Rank Question 1 How do I apply for financial aid? 2 How much is tuition? 3 What is the application process? 4 How do I complete my Master Promissory Note (MPN)? 5 What types of financial aid are available? 6 When will I be billed? 7 How do I contact the Financial Aid Office? 8 What is your Federal School Code for financial aid? 9 How do I check the status of my financial aid application? 10 How and when will I receive my financial aid? 11 Do you have a Work-Study Program? 12 When will I receive my refund? 13 how can I contact admissions? 14 What is a Federal Parent PLUS Loan? 15 How do I apply for summer aid? 16 How do I confirm my classes? 17 What is the difference between a subsidized and an unsubsidized loan? 18 Can I receive financial aid for winter/summer? 19 How can I apply for summer aid? 20 What is the school’s CEEB code?
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 16iii. Financial AidKey Trending Questions:The Story Behind the QueryFrom aggregating the financial aid data into a top Do you have a work-study program?200 question list, we combed through and have (Question Rank: 31)identified key topical questions that speak to the Particularly in the current economy, many studentslarger financial trends effecting modern student require the ability to combine their studies with worklife in higher education. Below are some key trends on or off-campus. For some, the value may come into take note of – when ensuring your school fully the form of experience and skill-building, for othersaddresses your students’ financial aid questions. it’s a financial concern. Either way, the modern student is clearly concerned about incorporatingHow do I contact the Financial Aid Office? work into their student experience.(Question Rank: 5)A critically important query for students. But with What are my FERPA Rights? (Question Rank: 78)the heavy service demands in the financial aid Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacydepartment, it is difficult for students to contact Act, student loans are subject to certain criteriathe department, which leaves them looking for that protect the privacy of the student. Growingother ways to get their questions answered in the knowledge and concern over this act is a strongsensitive timeframe they may need. indication of student expectations regarding privacy throughout their relationship with your institution.What is a “Stafford Loan” – how do I apply?(Question Rank: 36)This important federal loan program can mean all Trend Data versus School Data:the difference to thousands of prospective students. How Administrators Apply the InformationHow is your institution assisting prospective or Financial aid questions spike at certain times ofcurrent students with leveraging federal or state the school year, especially during the semesterfunding? Up to 25% of student questions regarding enrollment and registration process. From afinancial aid deal with access to and completion of student’s perspective, these questions have a sensethe various funding opportunities available. This is a of urgency and immediacy since they are deadline-trend that will likely only increase in the future. oriented. How can administrators serve students with the sense of accuracy, urgency and sensitivity they require? Like data on the prospective student section of this report, the top 20 financial aid questions posed by students from one school to another are similar. Figure 11 (next page) shows an example of three sample schools from our data pool – you will see how similar the questions are from one school to the next, with only a few notable differences.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 17iii. Financial Aid Figure 11 Sample of Top 20 Questions from 3 SchoolsSchool A School B School C Rank Question Rank Question Rank Question 1 How do I apply for financial aid? 1 How do I apply for financial aid? 1 How do I complete my Master Promissory Note (MPN)? 2 How much is tuition? 2 What is the application process? 2 How do I apply for financial aid? 3 How do I contact the Financial Aid Office? 3 How much is tuition and fees? 3 How much does tuition cost? 4 What is a Federal Parent PLUS Loan? 4 What types of financial aid do you 4 How and when will I receive my have available? financial aid? 5 What scholarships are available? 5 What is the difference between a 6 Do you have a Work-Study Program? 5 When will I be billed? subsidized and an unsubsidized loan? 7 What is a Stafford Loan? 6 What is your FAFSA school code? 6 Can I receive financial aid for 8 How and when will I receive my winter/summer? financial aid? 7 How can I contact admissions? 7 How can I apply for summer aid? 9 How do I sign the Federal Stafford Loan 8 How do I confirm my classes? 8 How do I contact the Financial Master Promissory Note (MPN)? Aid Office? 9 What is your CEEB code? 10 When will I receive my refund? 9 How can I get a scholarship? 11 What types of financial aid do you have 10 What is the status of my application? 10 Can I check the status of my available? financial aid? 11 How do I apply for housing? 12 What are the eligibility requirements for 11 What is a Parent PLUS loan and how financial aid? 12 When will I get my refund? do I apply? 13 Do you have an Academic Calendar? 13 How do I complete my exit interview? 12 What is the deadline for applying for 14 What loans are available? financial aid? 14 How much is housing? 13 What is your Suggested Lender List? 15 How do I check the status of my financial aid application? 15 When was the school founded? 14 How do I get work study? 16 How do I pay the bill? 15 How do I complete entrance counseling? 16 Where do I address Financial Aid 17 How do I contact a student, staff issues? 16 How do students qualify for grants? member or department? 17 What happens to my financial aid if 17 Do you have work study? I am not enrolled full-time? 18 What is your Federal School Code for financial aid? 18 Where is the school located? 18 When will I receive my excess aid check? 19 How do I apply for summer aid? 19 Will my financial aid go towards 19 How is financial aid applied to my bill? 20 How do I access the school’s online my housing? financial aid system? 20 When do classes or finals begin or end? 20 What is your Federal School Code?
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 18iii. Financial AidBut again, as we look beyond the top 20 list, thediversity of questions increase. This confirms thatthere is a vast array of questions that students needto ask and find answers to when seeking financialaid. Figure 12 below illustrates this fact in terms ofthe questions ranked 90 to 100. Figure 12 Sample of Ranked 90 to 100 Questions from 3 SchoolsSchool A School B School C Rank Question Rank Question Rank Question 90 How do I complete the PLUS 90 Do you offer early admission? 90 What can I do for a past due balance? Request Form? 91 When are final examinations and what 91 What is the Life Impact Program? 91 How do I request a deferment? are the policies? 92 Why am I being penalized because 92 Can I take classes without seeking 92 What are the policies on Academic my semester grade has not been a degree? Warning, Dismissal or Reinstatement? posted yet? 93 What types of student housing are 93 Do you have dual admissions? 93 Why is my [name of grant] showing available? up as estimated? 94 What are required courses from high 94 How can I have my aid reinstated? school? 94 Can you waive my late/interest charge? 95 How do I create [school Intranet name] 95 What is my essay topic? 95 What happens if I miss the priority Account? 96 What is good academic standing and deadline for applying? 96 How do I sign the Federal Perkins Loan how do I have it verified in writing? 96 What is the census date? Master Promissory Note (MPN)? 97 What is a University Loan? 97 How do I declare or change my major 97 What is the status of my alternative or minor? loan? 98 How and when will I receive my scholarship? 98 What if I need my transcripts 98 I received a check in the mail, what is immediately? it for? 99 Do you prefer the ACT or SAT for admission? 99 Where is the Registrar’s Office? 99 Who is ECSI? 100 How do I increase my loan? 100 Do you have social work? 100 Who is Great Lakes?Visit the “Resulting Implications – What Does it AllMean?” section of this report on page 23 for furtheranalysis and knowledge on what to do next.Or continue below to find out what’s on the minds ofour last key demographic: students seeking IT helpand support.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 19iv. IT Help DeskOverall Areas of Interest33% of all online questions asked in an IT Help The prevalence of questions regarding remote/Desk environment deal with simply gaining access wireless access to student networks, as well asto programs via passwords and login information. management of online student portals andClearly, there exists a tremendous opportunity for courseware programs like Blackboard also representmany overworked, overtaxed IT and contact center a significant portion of all queries related todepartments to deliver simple, self-serve information information technology.concerning this area – which is likely a real source offrustration for both students and staff alike. Figure 13 illustrates the degree to which each major category of questions is asked about IT services and support by students. Figure 14 identifies the top 20 overall questions being asked about IT services and support by students across schools. Figure 13 Areas of Interest for Students Seeking Information from IT Help Desk 9% Key Topical Interests 11% 33% Password/Login E-mail 21% Blackboard/Student Portal 26% Remote/Wireless Access General Admin Figure 14 Top 20 Ranked Questions Overall Rank Question 1 How do I change my password? 2 Why can’t I login? 3 What do I do if I forgot my password? 4 How do I setup my email? 5 How do I access my email? 6 How do I login to [portal]? 7 How do I access my email on the web? 8 How do I activate my email? 9 How do I find and register for courses? 10 When does the term begin and end? 11 I have questions about my password 12 How do I contact a student, staff member, or department? 13 How do I setup an email client? 14 How do I contact the office of the registrar? 15 How do I setup my web site? 16 How do I access wireless? 17 What is wireless and how do I connect? 18 How do I get an email account? 19 What is Blackboard? 20 Where can I get assistance with financial aid?
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 20iv. IT Help DeskKey Trending Questions:Telling the Story of the FutureFrom aggregating the IT data into a top 200 How do I find and register for courses? When doesquestion list, we combed through and have the term begin and end? (Question Ranks: 9, 10)identified key topical questions that speak to larger Somewhat surprising is the inclusion of these twotechnology trends that now affect the modern life of general questions unrelated to IT services anda student. Below are some key trends to address in support. This strengthens earlier observationsorder to ensure that your school is keeping up with made in this report that there are some questionsthe latest technology challenges that students face that are asked universally across a school’s web sitein making their learning experience smoother and property, regardless of where a student is within themore rewarding. site. It also highlights the importance of making answers accessible across a school’s web site property.How do I change my password? Why can’t I login? Students, prospective or current, could ask theirWhat do I do if I forgot my password? questions anywhere on a school web site during a(Question Ranks: 1, 2, 3) visit. As an administrator, if you have this outlierNo surprise here! 33% of IT related questions deal data at your fingertips, it could significantly helpwith the need for simple diagnostic information that you to pinpoint such queries and to address themcan be answered online. successfully site wide.How do I access wireless?(Question Rank: 16) Trend Data versus School Data: HowThe prevalence of this question illustrates the Administrators Apply the Informationimportance of Internet connectivity for today’s The trend data in the previous section confirmsstudent. that there are IT service and support queries that cross school boundaries – such as email andWhat is wireless and how do I connect? Intranet accessibility. Looking beyond that, our data(Question Rank: 17) highlights that each school has their own particularA closely related question to the one above, this set of IT challenges. And those challenges areis also quite frequently asked and echoes the related to the specific IT services and support eachimportance of mobility for today’s student. school offers to their student base.What is Blackboard? How do I set up my web site? Figure 15 below illustrates how three sample schools(Question Ranks: 19, 15) from our data pool have unique services and supportThe high ranking of questions related to Blackboard issues with their student base. It is important then forand other student learning portals demonstrates school administrators to have the data to understandthe value students receive from consolidating their where their particular student base requires ITstudent life on a personal portal designed to deliver support. For example, School C offers Blackboardinformation and assistance on an individual basis. and therefore they have a significant amount of students queries focused on how to use this system.Can I buy my textbooks online? (Question Rank: 88)More evidence that the web has become the Given the economic climate, IT investments arepreferred medium for students to conduct now harder than ever to obtain from school boards.transactions, so that a student is no longer required As administrators, you need to identify where yourto “waste” time doing so in person. student’s challenges lay in using your particular technologies – to ensure the highest return on your investment and more importantly, ensure student adoption of and satisfaction with the technology.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 21iv. IT Help Desk Figure 15 Sample of Top 20 Questions from 3 SchoolsSchool A School B School C Rank Question Rank Question Rank Question 1 Why can’t I login? 1 Why can’t I login to my school email 1 What is Blackboard? account? 2 How do I log into Blackboard? 2 What if I forgot my email password? 2 How can I access my e-mail? 3 Why can’t I see my discussion board 3 How do I change my password? 3 How do I set up my mail program? visual text box editor in Blackboard? 4 How can I access my email on the 4 INSTRUCTOR - Why is my course not web? 4 Why doesn’t my password work? showing up under my list of courses in 5 How do I set up my mail program? 5 How do I get my username and pass Blackboard? word for email account? 5 How do I register for classes? 6 What do I do if I have password 6 How do I protect my computer against 6 INSTRUCTORS - How do I make my questions? viruses? course available in Blackboard? 7 How do I activate my email account? 7 What majors and minors does the 7 Why do I see old classes in Blackboard? 8 What do I do if I’m having problems school offer? 8 How do I use the digital drop box in with my email? 8 How do I connect a device or game Blackboard? 9 How can I cancel my email account? console to [name of student residence 9 Is Blackboard down? network system]? 10 How do I activate my account? 10 Does the school have web hosting 9 How do I change my email password? services? 11 How do I contact the ITS Customer 10 What is and how do I contact the Support Centre? 11 How do I login to the school’s portal? school’s online Help Desk Support? 12 How do I log into my e-mail? 12 What is [online course tool name]? 11 How do I reset my Password? 13 How do I view my class schedule in 13 What applications are available through 12 How do I get help with my PIN? the portal? [virtual lab name]? 13 Is there e-mail available for faculty and 14 INSTRUCTORS - How do I remove 14 What is a Username? staff members? courses I am not teaching in Blackboard? 15 I changed my name. How can I get the 14 What is the process of applying for 15 How do I enter my grades through the change reflected in my e-mail address? admission? portal? (Faculty Only) 16 How can I block spam or email 15 How much is tuition? 16 What do I do when a blackboard test addresses? times out? 16 What do I do if I’m having problems with my e-mail? 17 Where do I go if I forgot my 17 Where can I find information on username/password? Academic issues? 17 How do I configure Outlook 2003 for use with my email account? 18 Why don’t I see all of my email 18 What is wireless? messages? 18 What software is available? 19 How do I print in a [student computer 19 How do I forward my email? lab name]? 19 How do I forward e-mail? 20 Where can I find class schedule and 20 Can I print using the wireless network? 20 What is wireless? catalogs?
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 22iv. IT Help DeskLooking beyond the top 20 questions the array oftechnical questions increases dramatically. Thisconfirms that there is a vast array of technicalquestions that students ask about IT services andsupport – and that array is different depending onthe technologies offered by each school. Figure16 below illustrates just how broad the array (andhow focused to that particular school’s services) oftechnical questions are beyond the top 20 rankedquestions. These are the questions that are ranked90 to 100 between the same three sample schools. Figure 16 Sample of Ranked 90 to 100 Questions from 3 SchoolsSchool A School B School C Rank Question Rank Question Rank Question 90 I have received new voice mail 90 How do I transfer to the school? 90 INSTRUCTORS - How do I disable copy messages but the Message Waiting and print in BlackBoard Light Indicator isn’t turning on, 91 Do you have web hosting service? 91 Why does the portal tell me that my What can I do? last name or my birth date is incorrect? 92 How do I connect to the server? 91 How can I access the Directory? 92 How do I change my home page? 93 What are the parking guidelines? 92 How do I access my new Voice 93 How do I create a personal folder in Mailbox for the first time? 94 Where is the academic calendar? Outlook? 93 How can I sign up for wireless access? 94 How do I disable ex-employee 95 How do I search for classes? 94 What is the browser check? accounts? 95 How do I change my voice mailbox 96 How do I set up secure wireless? 95 How do I subscribe to a mailing list? password? 96 What is my X drive size limit? 97 What is the e-mail size limitation? 96 How do I know if my browser is 97 What is the current schedule of Clicker communicating with a secure server? 98 Where can I find the [name of Training classes? 97 Where can I park? electronic reservation system for library books]? 98 How do I create a portal account? 98 Do you have an alumni association? 99 How do I use the student/faculty 99 My computer is broken. How can I 99 Does the school offer classes at other file storage? fix it? locations? 100 INSTRUCTORS - How do I change 100 How do I configure my laptop to work 100 What GPA and test scores do you course names and descriptions in with the school’s Wireless? require? Blackboard?
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 23IV Resulting Implications – What Does it All Mean?The need for providing an enhanced student Don’t Forget the Parentsexperience online is abundantly clear, as are the In addition, when it comes to using the web forcosts of not providing this capability to a web- research, the influence of student’s parents shouldsavvy constituency such as the modern student. not be discounted. As a recent study sponsoredAs the data, trends and commentary in this by the National Research Center for College andreport illustrate, questions posed by students are University Admissions attests, nearly all (90%)varied and not always easy to predict. While the parents researching colleges and universities formacro trends follow defined patterns, each major their kids are turning to the web for information.area, each school, and each student even, willhave their own unique concerns and methods The study also revealed that colleges andfor asking questions of their institution. Schools universities may want to re-tool their sites to includemust therefore understand and provide effective heavier emphasis on the information that mosttechnologies that accurately answer the unique interests parents: academic programs, majors,questions posed by both current and prospective scholarships, admissions requirements, tuitionstudents in a self-serve format. and fees, and campus safety. The report goes on to note that 10 percent of parents said they wouldCater to Web Savvy Students not recommend a college to their child if theToday’s students are nothing if not astute institution’s web site did not answer their questions.consumers of information – and this is the reasonwhy the Internet is far and away the preferred Why is student satisfaction so important?channel for students to interact with schools. Because students increasingly display a “consumer”And, for informational queries, self-service is the mindset toward their education and theirpreferred means by which students wish to find “customer” experiences are often formed by theiranswers. first point of contact with your school. Increasingly, this first point of contact is limited to interactionStudents are going online in droves to find answers with your school’s web site, a Facebook page, onlineand resolutions to problems, on their own or forums, Twitter “tweets”, SMS messages, or throughvia interaction with their peers. The satisfaction “surfing” on a mobile phone. More and more, thislevel they experience as they interact with your interaction does not begin with any person on yourorganization (as a prospective or current student) school’s staff.will either hinder or enhance their overallexperience with, and opinion of, your institution. Students are interacting with, evaluating and comparing schools often without setting foot on a campus or having a single human conversation. The quality of the web site experience, therefore, is often the only opportunity to provide the satisfaction that will drive students’ education “consumption” decisions.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 24How is customer satisfaction deliveredonline?Responsiveness, speed and brevity are key factors tostudent satisfaction when it comes to information.Today’s student does not want to wait for answers toher questions – especially in an online environmentwhere she is savvy and has high expectations forfinding what she needs.Accuracy also plays a critical role. Serving studentswith an inaccurate answer, a long list of “possibleanswers” or “canned” FAQ lists only results infrustration. Going on a “search” for informationrapidly deteriorates the visitor experience. Ifstudents’ online experience with your institutionbegins to resemble a search, they are likely tosimply stop and look elsewhere for answers.What happens next? At best, a current studentmay be forced to email or phone your Admissionsstaff, and incur costly one-on-one conversations toanswer the most elementary of questions – not tomention leave them with a sub-optimal experience.A prospective student, however, may simply visitanother school’s web site and never return to yours.This underlines an important fact: on the web,students are looking for positive experiences and,since there is no cost to “visit” another institution,they will seek out these positive experienceselsewhere – and without hesitation – if they don’tget it quickly from your school.
What’s On Their Minds? Voice of the Student Report 25V Actionable Next Steps – What Can Be Done?1. Know What an Enhanced Online Student 2. Overcome Silos of Information BottlenecksExperience Should Look Like Strive to overcome silos of informationThere are many examples of institutions that made “bottlenecks” so that information about the studentthe online experience efficient and smooth for and status of her inquiry is shared across differentstudents, and who are reaping the rewards. channels. For example, a call center operator should not need to ask the same questions thatSome universities that use advanced e-services have already been answered online.effectively on their web site are shown below: 3. Include Feedback OpportunityInstitution Web Site Students have opinions and want to be asked about1) Penn State University Penn State them. Incorporate student feedback opportunities World Campus at each touch point, including online and assisted channels.2) University of Wisconsin Ask GB Green Bay 4. Test and Test Again! Harvard University 3) Harvard University “Test” your new technologies and processes with Extension School Extension School students directly to confirm that they are “valued” University of 4) Ask Western? by those students that use them. Western Ontario 5. Right-Channel Your Audience5) Cuyahoga Ask Tri-C Make sure you are channeling students into the Community College right information funnel through intelligent escalation. For example, it may make more senseIf you haven’t already, look towards adding to flag certain self-service inquiries relating tointelligent self-service options such as an instant personal safety to Campus Security or the Dean ofanswer agent to your web site, social media tools or Students office.mobile phone platform. 6. Make Your Phone Number AccessibleThese technologies are quickly becoming a key In your efforts to modernize, don’t overlook thecomponent of the student experience and provide obvious. Although not a preferred channel amonga number of strong benefits, including: students, the phone is not 100% obsolete. Some students will come to your web site with the sole• Making it easy and convenient for students to purpose of finding a phone number they can use get the right answer to many of their questions to contact you with – make sure that number is the first time, thereby increasing first contact available and easily seen. For example, schools resolution and enhancing satisfaction should create self-service answers for students• Allowing students to type their question and seeking a phone number. A question like “How do get an immediate answer, with a high degree I contact Admissions?” could provide the number of accuracy for the Admissions Office rather than a long list of• Reducing operating costs that arise when departments with phone numbers. students are forced to escalate their questions to higher cost channels, such as emailing or phoning staff