The greatest challenge facing higher education today is arguably the dropping rates of
on-time graduation and degree completion.
Only 55% of students who begin their higher education end up completing a degree.
Out of those who do graduate, 60% take eight years to complete a four-year degree.
When I was in school, the course selection process was daunting. There was a huge catalogue to pick from, and there were strict requirements on the types of courses I had to take to complete my degree. Honestly, it was a crapshoot to know whether I was picking the right ones. Sadly, choosing courses today is every bit as overwhelming as it was then. One thing many people don’t realize is how much of an impact choosing the right courses has on student outcomes. Our lack of progress towards improving the course selection process is one of the reasons freshman retention and graduation rates have not improved over the last ten years – despite spending over one billion a year on planning and advising services.
One of the ways we can improve these numbers is to help the student population make smarter decisions about choosing the right courses. Academic advisors play a critical role in optimizing course selection but there just aren’t enough advisors to reach every student. In this case, technology can help. With the right tools, advisors can reach more students and focus their superpowers on the most important things.
Advisors are Superheroes on Campus
Academic advisors are heroes in the fight for student success. Several studies have proven academic advising to make a significant impact on student performance and improve four-year degree graduation rates. With their expertise in helping students navigate a path to degree completion – advisors are the superheroes on campus. In fact, 93% of students see advisory services as playing an important factor in the satisfaction of their higher education experience.
Academic advising also affects an institution’s bottom line. Improving dropout rates by only one percentage point led to a savings of three million dollars for some institutions. Advising also saves the student’s pocketbook. Students that complete a degree in four years (instead of five), save twenty-five thousand dollars of their hard-earned money. Those savings can go a long way to relieving debt and getting a head start in life after college.
But Even Superheroes Need Help
The problem we face today is the students who stand to benefit most from advisory services don’t have access to it.
The average ratio of students to advisors in the U.S. is 375-to-one – with some states reaching as high as 1200-to-one! There are simply not enough advisors to reach the students who need it most. Advisors are unquestionably valuable and important – but they can’t alone reach enough students to address the problem of student advising at scale.
Adding scale to advisory services is where technology can help. While it’s unlikely technology will ever be able to replicate the personal connection and intuition of an academic advisor, it can help make advisory accessible to more students.
Scaling the Superpower of Advising
We can bring the power of advising to a much larger student population, by using technology that makes recommendations and predictions based on real individual and historical data.
- What course is best suited to me based on my degree requirements?
- What course do I have the best chance of succeeding in?
- What course makes the most sense based on what I’ve completed so far?
When the student and advisor are equipped with this information they can have a meaningful conversation about how to plan for success. The results? Students perform better, and dropout less.