My team and I were at Shift Summit to discuss “Shifting the Student Experience” within institutions. Financial barriers are the leading reason students do not pursue or complete their degrees.
At Shift Summit, we were able to explore new ideas and solutions to create an ideal student experience through Student Financial Success. As well as learn how to surpass strategic enrollment, retention, diversity, and graduation goals. At Shift Summit, my team and I joined other leaders in enrollment, recruitment, financial aid, diversity, and student affairs to explore solutions to these financial barriers. We were able to pull some great perspectives from others that helped us to feel strong about our mission as a company.
If you couldn’t make it to this year’s conference, or you attended but couldn’t clone yourself and be present at the multiple breakout sessions, here are some of our key takeaways.
1. You Need More Than A Strong Student Experience
A strong student experience is integral to your program. It will help students go through your program effectively, and in a way, they’ll enjoy and find valuable.
That being said, we learned that a strong student experience and success is not enough. Most schools are solely focused on building strong student success teams, investing in their student experience, and improving student outcomes.
While it makes sense to invest in these things, schools aren’t seeing massive ROI with these changes. Enrollment is still declining, and students are dropping out of their programs even more consistently.
While student experience is an unquestionably important pillar of any institution’s overall growth strategy and should be invested in, they need more than that.
2. You Could Have the Best Education Program in the World, But Financing Determines Your Success
More and more students choose to forgo their college careers or end their higher education journey due to financial limitations.
These barriers happen at the beginning of the journey, during enrollment, and at various points that affect retention. Many institutions may think that once a student is enrolled and has their first round of tuition covered, that’s it. But the issue goes beyond that.
Students are met with more financial barriers each semester, causing too much friction between them and higher ed success. This forces them to end their student journey earlier and more often than they otherwise would.
3. The Answer is a Better Financial Journey
In the same way, schools and institutions are investing in their student experience, they have to support their students in their financial journey too.
Students don’t just want better options; they want more of them.
They might want to make a few upfront payments and then spread out the rest of the cost over time or link their tuition repayment to their income. They want more options that fit them and their needs. Choices that will meet them where they’re at and give them the flexibility to pay on their terms.
A strong student experience is essential, but it won’t give you a strong ROI without an equally strong student finance experience. Schools being more involved in their student’s financial journey by offering more payment options is essential. A better financial journey is what will open more doors, invite more students in, and help improve their long-term retention. Without it, not only will students continue to face the financial barriers they’ve been facing for while now, they will also be less likely to stick to their programs and see them through.
Students need a better higher ed finance experience. Shift Summit helped me realize that even more people share our mission of making education more accessible through more and better student tuition options.