With the evolution of one-stops over the past 15 years, there has been great innovation in regards to the technology and servicing mechanisms to improve student services. The benefits of one-stop student services are well known in how they increase student satisfaction and better utilize the limited resources of the institution. As one-stops become more sophisticated and institutions better understand their students’ needs through data, the strategy and implementation will evolve to make interactions more personalized. With that in mind, let’s hear what three higher education leaders in student services have to say about trends and the evolution of one-stops.

Common themes we heard about one-stop trends included the following:

  • Your one-stop will continue grow and evolve over time. As your team becomes more efficient, it opens up the possibilities to take on new projects or strategic initiatives such as proactive outreach campaigns, financial wellness 1:1 appointments, and more.
  • Once your one-stop gains momentum, don’t be surprised if other departments or teams want to start partnering. Your team will need to decide how to handle additional requests.
  • A one-stop lends itself to going virtual very easily. Today’s learners crave and expect mobile applications and online support access. The hardest part of fully going online is the academic advising and personal counseling.
  • It is not uncommon for students waiting in line for face to face services to also be looking for the answer online while they wait.
  • To generate innovation on your team, you need to provide an environment that supports that kind of thinking. Innovation doesn’t need to be the next best thing as far as technology. It can be about how you provide a better experience, or how you can transform that experience.
  • To keep up with innovation, also try visiting other one-stops and participate in one-stop conferences such as the Institute for Student Services Professionals (ISSP) Conference. Next year’s conference is slated for October 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Q: How has your one-stop grown and evolved?

Julie Selander, Director of One Stop Student Services & University Veteran Services, University of Minnesota: Because we’ve been able to refine our one-stop over the past 15 years, we have been able to build upon our momentum and efficiency. We are now doing more in student degree progress, identifying students who completed 80-90% of their program but have not returned for various reasons (sometimes financial, sometimes family obligations, etc). We now have time to reach out and get them to re-enroll. We also assisted with reaching out to those students who had started last year as a freshman, did well academically, but had not yet registered for their second year by late summer. We want to do more of this type of outreach. We also go to most of the metropolitan area high schools to discuss financial aid options and how to apply for aid. We also started a 1:1 financial wellness appointments this past year and require all staff to be certified about personal finance management. As one-stops become more mature, I see their reach broadening into programs like these.

Dennis Day is the former Vice President of Student Success and Engagement at Johnson County Community College: I agree. As your one-stop matures, it will evolve and you will find opportunities with your staff to do other things. Following up and using proactive outreach is the next logical level of what a one-stop can provide. Outbound options can be huge! One-stop staff have the information about each student and know exactly where the pain point is for that student. This data can show indicators that point to students staying or leaving. This is a gold mine of information as a one-stop matures.

Anne Valentine, VP of Student Experience and Customer Service, Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana: We also evolved what tasks our one-stop supported. In the beginning, our admissions staff was very specific what we could handle. Now as everyone is becoming more efficient, not just our one-stop staff, more tasks have come our way.

Q: How will one-stops support the next generation of learners?

Dennis: I really believe that we are on the cusp of mobile exploding for student service support. A one-stop lends itself to going virtual very easily. The hardest part of fully going online is the academic advising and personal counseling. Everything else can be done online and can be offloaded. We resist this as institutions because we think our populations wants face to face. I think mobile and online have a lot of advantages and potential. The technology will continue to get better and provide ease of service to students. Students will embrace it, but not all will demand it. Even today, you will see students waiting in line for face to face services but they are trying to get their answer online while they wait. Build it and they will use it.

Q: How do you keep up with innovation and continuous improvement to your one-stop?

Anne: To keep up with innovation, we visit other one-stops and participate in one-stop conferences. For example, visiting the Ohio State University one-stop, we learned about the new queueing system they implemented over the summer after using a home grown system for years. Since our initial planning, the queueing systems available on the market have developed to better meet our needs. As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we spent the first half of 2015 visiting each of our campus one-stops to observe student interaction and interview staff. Utilizing process improvement methodology, we identified best practices and areas for improvement at each location. We’ve used this valuable feedback to improve each campus location including sharing best practices statewide.

Julie: One of the most important things for which I can count on my one-stop team is being innovative and for “thinking outside the box.” They are continually thinking of how we can improve on student experience. But in order to be innovative in that way, you need to provide an environment that supports that kind of thinking. Innovation doesn’t need to be the next best thing as far as technology. It can be about how you provide a better experience, or how you can transform that experience. Rarely on my team is there the need to squash the fear of change. My team embraces change and we and our students are better because of that.

Visit us to learn more about Blackboard’s One-Stop Student Services solution and register for our upcoming webinar, “Drive a Better One-Stop Support Experience with Blackboard SmartView,” on October 28th at 2pm ET with Anne Valentine.

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