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Webcast Blog 6: Onboarding Students Matters

June 17, 2022
Webcast Blog

Welcome back to another student experience episode! In this week’s episode, we’ll be covering a new topic; how do you create a true onboarding strategy that can make a difference?

Want to listen to this topic instead? Click here to check out the webcast.

When students start their university journey, it is very important that your university welcomes them into the institution properly. Several studies show that more than 35% of students have negative associations with the institution they are attending. In most cases, these negative associations are already created at the very beginning of their university experience. For that reason, we will take a closer look at the onboarding phase, and how you as a university can use this to increase student satisfaction.

Let’s first talk about social life. Research shows that more than 50% of students are concerned about their social life prior to starting at a new university. It can therefore be crucial to take away these concerns, and what better way to do that than by connecting them to other students who are about to embark on their university journey?

One way to do so is to make sure that there are plenty of social activities both at the institution and outside of the institution. That way, students will get comfortable with the university, but they will also get a chance to meet others in a more relaxed setting. This also embraces the fact that some students like to party while others might prefer to simply engage in a calmer setting. Also make sure to get students relevant with all the facilities that will be relevant to them, such as where they can find the library, student desk, and the cafeterias. In other words, a simple tour and connection program can already ease a lot of students' nerves.

Secondly, let’s look at the facilities at the university. Another thing that is very important for the students, as this is a part of their first impression, is the overall facilities at the school during their first days. This can range from making sure that there are enough seats for everyone to the food you serve on the first day and how kind the lecturers appear. In fact, it’s the small things that count here! From our data, we see that a huge part of students cares a lot about the food that is served to them on the first days. For that reason, it can be a good idea to prioritize spending a little extra money on this. However, it is important to mention that it is not each of these things that make a difference, but it is all about the overall impression that the small things contribute.

The last item that really matters is structure: When students are starting at a new institution, a lot of things are new to them and for that reason, many students prefer to have a clear schedule of what they can expect from the first days. Bear in mind that these students are usually coming from high school where almost everything was carefully planned for them. This means that it is essential to send out as much information to the students as possible before they start. This can create a feeling of comfort for the students. In addition to this, you must make sure that you plan everything for the welcoming days and that the students know where to turn to if they have any questions during the first days.

To address these issues, we’ve highlighted a few easy-to-implement solutions that can be applied.

  • Student Counseling: One thing that we will always mention in relation to student satisfaction is student counseling. Our data from StudentPulse shows that during the onboarding phase more than 30% of students are interested in being connected to a student counselor. For that reason, we recommend that you make sure to remind the students that the student counselors are there to help the students at any point during their education. It is very important to remove the barriers between student counselors and students, and this is done when you get your students to open up to your student counselors about how they are doing.
  • ‍Did I Make the Wrong Choice?: When a student has been accepted at a university, statistics show that more than one out of five students have major concerns about whether they made the right decision or not. This doubt will in many cases still be there after the students start. For that reason, support and guide the students and give them the best basis for either confirming or denying that they made the right decision. In case a student finds out that they did not make the right decision, as some students will, make sure that you will guide them towards a different program or even another university (if that is what the student requires). Because keeping students at your university, who are unsatisfied, will not create a great student experience. Another important statistic to be aware of is parents who did not pursue a higher education degree are more likely to drop out during their first semester. This once again supports the fact that it is important to make sure that you give students a proper onboarding to make sure that they feel like they belong and that they made the right decision. We see the importance of this as when students at higher risk of dropouts have passed the first semester, the imbalance in dropouts is reduced significantly.
  • Provide the Best Student Experiences: At StudentPulse & Uni-Life, our missions are to build the best student experiences. This is done when universities make sure to support their students, build student-relevant activities/communities, and ask them how they feel as this is the only way to actually know for sure and to make sure they have.

We hope this has provided you with new ideas or insights. Have any thoughts or comments to share with us? Get in touch with us, we’d love to hear!



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