Like everyone, for those in Higher Ed, the world looks dramatically different than it did just a few weeks ago. COVID-19 has forced the closure of colleges and universities across the nation, canceling in-person classes in favor of online distance learning. More than 14 million students and thousands of professors and administrators are now navigating a virtual community, and essentially all schools have become online institutions overnight. Even as faculty scramble to keep classes engaging, and administrative staff race to ensure student processes like admission and financial aid stay on track, there remains a desire to make interactions personal, meaningful and most of all, safe.
Intelligent online appointment student and faculty scheduling software can help create order amid this chaotic new normal. In the short-term, a scheduling platform can be rolled out quickly to help bridge immediate challenges, while in the long-term, help administrators find new efficiencies for scheduling everything from academic advising to on-campus interviews for graduating students.
Here are just 6 of the ways Intelligent Scheduling can benefit Higher Education
- Schedule virtual office hours. Students need to meet with professors and teaching assistants whether it’s for help with a specific assignment or to dig deeper into broader concepts. Faculty can’t scale the scheduling process with hundreds of students via email. Instead, online appointment scheduling gives students visibility into available time slots, letting them control when they create meetings. And faculty won’t accidentally overbook.
- Streamline class enrollment for Fall 2020 and beyond. Even if enrollment is already entirely online, students have questions. Does a transfer class meet the prerequisite requirements? Is a lab part of the class? Is this a lecture hall or a small discussion-based class? Regardless of the question, avoid an overflowing email inbox by moving these discussions to short, pre-scheduled appointments that occur over chat, video or phone.
- Continue academic advising appointments. Advisors are often overlooked resources providing the ability for students to work through educational and long-term goals. Once advisors establish rapport, it’s critical to keep the conversation going. Moving to prescheduled virtual appointments provides students the opportunity to create a meeting agenda or send along requests ahead a time, giving the advisor time to properly prepare for meetings, regardless of whether it’s via phone or video.
- Provide career counseling for students. The current pandemic presents extra challenges for seniors who are about to graduate and enter the workforce or graduate programs, or even juniors looking for summer internships. There are so many unknowns that it’s vital this component of the higher educational experience is not lost due to distance. Online scheduling will help mitigate the administrative hassle associated with increased student demand for career counseling, resume support, and job searches.
- Foster continued internship and on-campus recruiting activities. It’s not just students who turn to college and university career development offices for support. Employers who regularly hold on-campus interviews for internships or participate in job fairs still need a way to connect with students. While a large-scale virtual event may not be feasible in the short-term, a better solution may be to create a day where students and employers can schedule one-on-one meetings, allowing students and employers to get to know each other beyond a resume.
- Provide financial aid counseling. Even returning students (and their parents!) typically require some amount of personal support to extend or reapply for financial aid for the new school year. But incoming First Years can be especially anxious and have a long list of questions about eligibility, paperwork and deadlines for financial aid. These questions often require research beyond a standard response and can be a critical factor in a school’s ability to successfully enroll accepted students. One of the best ways to streamline the processes and ensure that students receive accurate information is to allow them to schedule an appointment via the school’s website. In addition to ease of use, smart scheduling will route the appointment to the most appropriate counselor to deal with each student’s specific needs.
Higher Education Sees Broad Results with Online Scheduling
Intelligent scheduling works across departments to eliminate the time and frustration created by traditional methods of appointment setting, such as email or voicemail. When students have the ability to create appointments with professors or administrative staff, they report higher satisfaction rates and a strong sense of community support.
Students, especially when using online scheduling to make appointments with professors, show increased rates of engagement. They also gain added flexibility to create appointments at a time that works best for them.
Faculty report reduced administration time associated with office hours and student meetings. They also see a dramatic decrease in no-show rates due to the fact that it’s easy for students to reschedule if a conflict arises.
First-time connection rates ialso ncrease between enrollment counselors and prospective students, leading to an increase in informational recruitment appointments, ultimately driving higher enrollment.