Supporting Students With A Connected Approach to Advising

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As the most diverse and tech-savvy generation enters school, they have different needs and expectations than the students before them. They want to feel a sense of belonging and expect connected experiences that show the institution understands them and their goals for the future.  Even before enrollment, prospective students evaluate what the experience might be like at the school, and what their success will look like after graduation.

 Advising plays an essential role in fostering success and student well-being in this environment. Whether supporting prospective students through admissions, helping them navigate academic requirements, or preparing them for employment, advisors serve as partners and interpreters, creating foundational support and increasing students’ likelihood of meeting the challenges of completing school.

Admissions, academic advising and career coaching are individually important services. When connected, they create an end-to-end experience that enables schools to surround each student with proactive support tailored to their individual needs. As learning has moved from campus to the computer due to Covid-19, this type of holistic approach can provide a sense of security to students amidst so much uncertainty. 

The University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy (UVA Batten) is a school of public policy in the U.S. explicitly committed to teaching leadership. Their students learn to set context around decision making, and focus on actions that lead to tangible results. As an institution focused on leadership, they have become leaders themselves in their approach to advising. Today, they are among the institutions investing in a cohesive approach in order to scale support across different advising functions. Their focus is on empowering advisors to make the student experience more connected. This enables advising teams to provide comprehensive support so that a student’s admissions experience can lead to a better academic experience, which can inform their approach to finding a career. To help with this, they implemented Salesforce Advisor Link, a purpose-built unified advising solution that enables holistic advising across the student life cycle. 

Making A Good First Impression

The student journey and the need for support start with prospects. As enrollments decline, competition for best-fit students increases. A support system that begins while they look at programs, and evolves with them during their academic experience, helps them keep on track. In fact, in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, 92% of returning students said academic advising was very important or somewhat important to their academic success.

To improve the experience, UVA Batten recognized that they had to make it easier for prospective students to make appointments with admissions staff as well as for staff to refer them to specific departments if students had questions about courses, activities, or job prospects. They used Advisor Link to turn making an appointment into building a connection with the school. Each student now has a profile that grows with them during their time at UVA Batten, enabling any future advisor or career coach to understand and support them from day one. Once admitted and enrolled, prospects-turned-students use the same platform to access relevant information. By making admissions the entry point for the tool, they created a system that students can rely on at any given time, creating the streamlined access to information that today’s generation has come to expect.

Collaborate To Graduate

Academic advisors do so much more than help plan course-load. They engage students in purposeful discussion, providing guidance to navigate program requirements and proactively avoid any issues. Ensuring students reach out to advisors, rather than going it alone, requires reducing friction in the process of locating the right services and making an appointment. 

At UVA Batten, the same platform that assists with the admissions process helps students find services and set up appointments with advisors to chart a path through their coursework and connect them to campus life. They can also indicate whether they want to meet in person, on the phone, or through videoconference, which increases the usability of the platform, making it more likely students will continue to engage.

Just as important is the centralized source of information for advisors. Not only can they refer to notes from previous meetings, but they also can see course load, chart course pathways, look at activities, and view student records. By tracking student progress and having a complete view of their experience, advising teams can create more tailored plans and identify hurdles before they impact success.

 A Focus On The Future

Student success extends beyond the academic experience. Students are increasingly evaluating schools based on how they can help students gain access to careers after graduation. With transparency into the student’s academic journey, career advisors can offer more specific advice on possible career paths, job hunting, and what hands-on experience they’ll need to land the job they’re interested in.

At UVA Batten, students work with their advisor to find internships. The same platform that is used through admissions and academic advising now can be used to sign up and get the necessary approvals with just a few clicks. The centralized platform also can create a record so students can see who had the internship before and who the supervisor was. This transparency empowers them to reach out, build a network, and learn more about the opportunity. 

Using End-to-End Advising To Set Up Students For Success

With an end-to-end platform that creates cross-department transparency institutions can develop a better understanding of their students, and place a greater focus on how to help them succeed. Offering tailored guidance and proactive support will create a structure for student success, even as we navigate uncertain times. 

“Making sure students know there is a team of people who can and want to help is fundamental to success. Connecting student services, academic advising, and career services creates an equitable support structure,” says Steve Hiss, director of career services and alumni engagement at UVA Batten. “Regardless of background, we can provide the same level of support to all students, making them more likely to succeed.”

Learn how Salesforce Advisor Link can help drive student success and retention through their entire education journey.  

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