As the spring semester comes to an end, higher education institutions are entering a new season of student support. The summer semester is about to roll in, followed by a wave of incoming students. There’s usually a brief lull in the summer as many students are away, faculty counts are slimmer, and campus activity calms for a couple of months. When August hits, campuses will be buzzing again with incoming students learning how to navigate college, upperclassmen exploring career options, and faculty managing full inboxes and lines of students outside their offices (or in a Zoom waiting room). Support during these transitional times is crucial.
Students enrolled in the summer semester will need the same kind of support as they do throughout the August-May school year. They will need help with registration, adding or dropping classes, tutoring, financial aid, careers, and more. Are faculty and staff prepared to deliver the right support at the right time, or do summer classes and fewer students decrease their sense of urgency?
When students need help, they will need to know exactly who to contact and how to reach them. The faculty and staff members they’ve grown accustomed to might be on a break for the summer or check emails less frequently. As different people step in to fill in the gaps, students need to know who’s doing what.
Students enrolled in summer classes aren’t the only ones in need of help during this time. The proper faculty and staff must be available to help students prepare for the fall as they register for classes, apply for financial aid, find housing, and search for jobs. Incoming students will need the most support in these areas. They’re stepping into new territory and have yet to figure out the college system, which can be quite complex. But it doesn’t have to be. Support should be simple, easy to access, and centralized so incoming students know exactly where to go for the right answers to every question. In the process, their uncertainties will fade and their confidence will grow as they register for classes for the first time, find housing, apply for financial aid, navigate the campus, and connect with other students.
Back to School in the Fall
When the fall semester hits, things will speed up and faculty will be fielding thousands of requests. Colleges and universities spend a lot of time preparing for this busy season, but the student experience is unintentionally hampered by delayed responses, siloed student services, and long wait times. Those who have never navigated the college system before are hindered when resources are inequitably scattered throughout the campus, they can’t find the right person to help, or they have to wait a long time for a response. More, some students are on tight deadlines as they await a paycheck so they can register for classes, wait for transfer credits to be verified, or face other life circumstances that make college a challenge. This is where instant, accessible support is more important than ever.
The upcoming fall semester will be an exceptionally significant transition time now that we’re on the downhill slope of the pandemic. A large number of students will be returning to in-person classes while others stick to a hybrid or fully-remote method. Institutions should focus on providing the best support to every type of student in these various learning environments. The key here is equitability—giving every student quick and easy access to the right support whenever they need it. You can read more on that here.