1 WHITE PAPER The New Traditional Student Opportunity: Perpetual ROI throughout the Complete Student Lifecycle Welcome to the knowledge-based global economy, where a nation s long-term health and wealth is contingent upon the collective skill and know-how of its people. For the United States, a highly-educated and competitive workforce is vital to our future economic security. The U.S. labor market s skills gap has recently been the subject of much focus and concern. Thousands of job openings go unfilled because of a lack of workers with the required expertise. Policymakers have stressed the importance of equipping adults with the skills sought by employers and providing pathways to training programs that fill the gap. A recent McGraw-Hill Research Foundation policy paper concluded: Adult education and career training is potentially one of the most cost-effective tools the nation has to recover its economic health in the aftermath of the Great Recession. We must have an integrated system of adult education and workforce development that serves millions of Americans in accessible, affordable, and accountable ways on the job, online, and in the classroom. The Golden Age of Adult Continuing Education There were 6.8 million adult learners in the United States in 2013, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The U.S. Department of Education reports that only four percent of them enroll in traditional university degree programs. Instead, the vast majority chose vocational classes, professional certifications, or independent courses. The burgeoning demand for continuing education heralds extraordinary opportunities for adaptable higher education institutions that are capable of bringing innovative offerings to the market. Our programs vary greatly in terms of length, price, intensity, and student requirements. We need one system that recognizes that the needs of continuing education can be very different from the rest of the university. Ronda Bethea Network Manager Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University Continuing education (CE), non-credit courses, professional certifications, workforce development programs, corporate campuses, and enrichment offerings have become centers of perpetual return on investment (ROI) for many colleges and universities. As institutions embrace the challenge, their schools of extension are becoming incubators for ground-breaking programs, many seeing unprecedented success. As Robert Hansen, CEO and Executive Director, University Professional & Continuing Education Association has succinctly noted: This is the golden age of adult continuing education.
2 The New Traditional Student Clearly, the higher education student is undergoing a transformative change. Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Rob Jenkins stated that, What we used to call nontraditional students older, working, married, and maybe still living at home now constitute a large and growing percentage of those attending college in the United States. In fact, they are fast becoming the new traditional student (Jenkins, 2012). Adult learners have personal and academic circumstances that differ significantly from those of their younger counterparts. Many adult students have children. Many work long hours to afford tuition and materials while supporting themselves and their families. Many are anxious about returning to school or even starting school for the first time after they ve been in the workforce for years. Some are switching careers while others are advancing careers. The National Center for Education Statistics has found that these students are more than twice as likely as traditional students to drop out in the first year. Even so, many institutions find that adult learners are excited about their education and take it very seriously. It s not always easy, but given the right tools, pedagogy, and support, these students can have high rates of success and completion. Predictive modeling, an innovative retention technology, helps institutions reach out to struggling or at-risk students at the right time, with the best interventions. Bringing Down the Cost of Education New traditional students are actively seeking inexpensive degree programs. Many schools are adopting revamped business models that are bringing down the cost of delivering an exceptional educational experience. How are schools doing this? Technology is the cornerstone of a sustainable financial model. Administration systems designed exclusively for CE, workforce development, or online education provides the adaptability, efficiency, and customization essential to a successful program. The higher operational efficiency created through an integrated administrative system not only streamlines the everyday tasks of running a financially sound program but also provides the advanced analytics needed to continually refine operations. And cloud-based systems provide both cost-savings and increased reliability, among other benefits. Technology is often looked at as an answer, says Dr. Daniel Greenstein, Director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Yet, it has to be more than just bolting new technology on an antiquated platform. We need new business models that include technology and allow colleges and universities to put scarce dollars where they matter most. For today s student, what can make a big, positive difference is access to an education tailored to their needs, their learning styles, and their goals, with appropriate coaching and advising. For higher education to fulfill it historical role as an engine of social mobility and economic growth, we must continue to seek big technology breakthroughs. This means thinking creatively about how to serve students as individuals, while also ensuring that many more students get the learning opportunities they deserve. 2
3 Innovative CE Technology The technological needs of CE and workforce development programs are unique. Courses for new traditional students can range from a single, online lecture to a nine-month certificate program or more. A school s IT infrastructure must not only support but also help cultivate this flexibility. Our programs vary greatly in terms of length, price, intensity, and student requirements, says Ronda Bethea, Network Manager, Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. We need one system that recognizes that the needs of continuing education can be very different from the rest of the university. Modern CE systems easily adapt to a program s academic, financial, and timing needs. A powerful CE system, like its enterprise resource planning (ERP) cousin on the main campus, provides a holistic solution for connecting silos of disparate information, including integrating seamlessly with the main campus ERP. It brings together the backend and frontend systems, integrating financial information and student registration and admissions data. Designed to handle the often extreme swings in demand seen in CE and online programs, it easily accommodates a wide variety of course catalogs, flexible class schedules, stackable certificate programs, faculty calendars, integrated marketing campaigns, and advanced business intelligence analytics. It gives users real-time information and is accessible at any time, from any computer or mobile device. It makes intelligent learning track and training trajectory recommendations for students throughout their course of study. Marketing components of a robust system utilize Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology for deeper insight into a school s constituents. Successful institutions are using CRM technology to personally connect with the best-fit candidates for their CE and workforce development programs. The University of California Online Education (UC Online), which has seen much success providing engaging, academically-rich online courses, connects seven campuses through a single technology platform. Nearly 2,600 fully-online courses have been offered across the university system with more than 90,000 students enrolled. These include three fully-online master s degree programs and 255 forcredit undergraduate courses. The integrated system quickly and easily guides students through online registration, and it simplifies and reduces administrative tasks for UC Online staff. This is not a time to be timid, says Mark G. Yudof, University of California President. The finances simply no longer exist to support instruction the way we ve done it. The challenge is to be strong and thrive with the new fiscal and pedagogical realities. High quality, online classes that make innovative use of technology could give University of California students new ways to learn while helping to alleviate bottlenecks in high-demand classes. 3
4 Serving the Entire Student Lifecycle: Four Steps to Perpetual Return on Investment Comprehensive continuing education and workforce development systems ensure the institution serves the new traditional student throughout the entire student lifecycle. From recruitment to admissions to student success and beyond, opportunities to forge strong bonds with constituents abound. This can set up a program for a continuously replenishing cycle of prosperity. The four steps to perpetual ROI in a CE or workforce development program are: 1) Insightful Marketing 2) Intelligent Recruiting 3) Intuitive Enrollment Management 4) Informative Retention 1) Insightful Marketing An effective brand marketing campaign conveys a focused message across all media. Integrated technology ensures an institution creates a favorable impression and strengthens the student-school relationship throughout the entire student lifecycle from a student s first touch with a school (such as via social media), through the school s online registration recommendation engine (where the system places a student in the correct learning track), through student engagement campaigns, to post-completion interactions. From a marketing technology standpoint, the institution s website, social media presence, prospect portal, and online registration system are all opportunities to collect information about your audience. And all that data can be analyzed in real-time reports and dashboards, so an institution can continually refine its efforts do more of what works and less of what doesn t. This is the golden age of adult continuing education. Robert Hansen CEO and Executive Director UPCEA 2) Intelligent Recruiting Competition for the best-fit students is tough. Prospective students are constantly bombarded by mail, , internet campaigns, and social media interactions. Successful institutions are using CRM technology to personally connect with the best-fit candidates for their CE and workforce development programs. CRMs can track and monitor each candidate/student across the complete enrollment process, from initial inquiry to acceptance and admission. List management, personalized generation, calendar and event management, and automated workflows make CRMs invaluable tools for running an effective recruiting program. And CRMs capture the data that gives an institution deep insight into a campaign s effectiveness, so a school can react to its market in real-time. 4
5 3) Intuitive Enrollment Management To be competitive in the new traditional student marketplace, it s important to provide high-quality service while keeping operational costs low. Successful CE programs need to knock down the barriers of traditional enrollment processes. A CE-specific administrative system helps accelerate everyday tasks and streamline operations though automated workflows, scheduling tools, and real-time alerts that keep the entire team connected and in synch. Modern students expect fast and easy online registration with transactions taking place in the familiar shopping cart feature. Facilitating real-time registration from Facebook accounts and online guides to help students with commonly asked questions is essential. And throughout the enrollment process, the system needs to collect and present back the data that makes sense, allowing the institution to make the best-informed decisions. 4) Informative Retention The virtuous cycle created in delivering the ideal new traditional student program perpetuates itself. By providing personal, meaningful service at a cost-effective price point, institutions are well on the way to optimizing student success. Predictive modeling, an innovative retention technology, helps institutions reach out to struggling or at-risk students at the right time, with the best interventions. With the tools in place, schools can work to make sure no student falls through the cracks. Technology is the cornerstone of a sustainable financial model. Administration systems designed exclusively for CE, workforce development, or online education provide the adaptability, efficiency, and customization essential to a successful program. Many new traditional students go on to become repeat, life-long learners. Institutions do well to track job placement for future marketing to the organizations employing its graduates. Tracking credentials also helps an institution market on an individual basis, ensuring students keep credentials current. Through the use of innovative technology, institutions can deliver on the promise of student success and fulfill a mission of giving new traditional students the opportunities they deserve. 5
6 Conclusion Large research institutions, small private schools, community colleges, online schools higher education institutions of all types and sizes are expanding their continuing education, workforce development, certificate, and non-credit programs. Modern technology designed specifically for their unique programs is a critical component to keeping costs down while providing an exceptional program. By breaking down the barriers of traditional systems, innovative CE and workforce development systems provide real-time integration with the main campus while also serving the often-changing needs of these contemporary programs. With a burgeoning market opportunity, and a smart business model of perpetual ROI, serving the new traditional student throughout the entire student lifecycle is making a big impact in higher education. 6
7 About the Author: Bibliography Hans Kobler Managing Director, Jenzabar Innovations, Jenzabar Inc. Hans leads Jenzabar Innovations, providing innovative software solutions to our ERP clients and the broader higher education industry. He brings a wealth of expertise to Jenzabar after having spent more than 20 years in various technology commercialization and development functions at ICx Technologies, Digital Power Capital, General Electric, and Bain & Company. Hans holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, attended INSEAD in Fontainebleau, and received a Master s in Aerospace Engineering from the Technical University of Munich. National Center for Education Statistics: Bethea, R., Network Manager, Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, Rice University. Denneen, J., & Dretler, T. (2012). The Financially Sustainable University. Bain & Company. Ebersole, J. (2014, 01 13). Top Issues Facing Higher Education in Forbes. Greenstein, D. (2013, December 16). Essay arguing that major changes are coming to higher education. Inside Higher Ed. Jenkins, R. (2012). The Chronicle of Higher Education. The New Traditional Student. University of California Online Education Press Release. (2013). Online Education Seen as Key Part of Curriculum. Worchester, A. (2011). Continuing education and chelp improve your career. The Business Journal. 7
8 About Jenzabar Jenzabar is a leading provider of enterprise software, strategies, and services developed exclusively for higher education. Our integrated, innovative solutions advance the goals of academic and administrative offices across the campus and throughout the student lifecycle. Jenzabar's mission is to maximize our clients' success. Our award-winning software and experienced professionals provide our clients the tools and resources they need to thrive. As a trusted partner on more than 1,000 campuses worldwide, Jenzabar has over four decades of experience supporting the higher education community. 101 Huntington Avenue, Suite 2200 Boston, MA Jenzabar, Inc. All rights reserved. Jenzabar is a registered trademark of Jenzabar, Inc. The Jenzabar logo is a trademark of Jenzabar, Inc. CONTEDWP
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