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Higher Education

Higher Education includes all learning institutions beyond K-12: universities, colleges, community colleges and professional organizations. This WWT community is dedicated to sharing trends and developments in higher education that impact and are impacted by technology. All WWT employees and education professionals are welcome! Connect with WWT experts to ask questions, request a briefing or share ideas.

Higher Education Thrives on Technology

WWT is committed to supporting higher education institutions in achieving the vision of lifelong learning for all beyond high school. Universities, community colleges and professional development organizations are cornerstones and lifeblood in our communities. Digital technologies are the thread that connects their leaders, students, employees, researchers, and community members. We're here to help. 

Student Success & Digital Expectations

Students have sophisticated expectations about digital maturity, consistency and university-provided tools. Institutions are evolving the vision for their digital ecosystems and the “digital consumer” experiences they use to engage with students. 

Faculty & Staff Make it Happen

Technology creates warm human connections between faculty and staff to operate as a connected unit for each other and their students. Tools to drive workflow, employee connection, work efficiency and organic collaboration are built through integrations between many enterprise solutions and systems. 

Research Drives Innovation

Faculty, staff and student researchers have unique computing needs while also following institutional practices around data security, authentication and hardware use. Knowing how to provide researchers with autonomy, flexibility and analytics power in their work while supporting their compute needs is our specialty. 

Institutional Technology & Communication

Investing in modernizing and streamlining enterprise environments is critical to scaling the institution’s resources for the long haul. Institutions are designing and delivering services to meet student expectations and staff’s ability to serve students in a cohesive, synergistic way. 

Consider This...

Consider This… is a monthly rotating feature offering insight into technology within higher education. 

Digital solutions break down barriers to enrollment. Students face many barriers to applying for admission and enrolling in a higher education institution. When talented students aren't able to find the resources they need - or have the perception that they don't have the potential for success - we see tragic missed opportunities for tremendously talented youth to grow into the leaders they can become.

Digital solutions can help students bridge these barriers to make continuing education and life successes more attainable for all.

For many years, higher education has been talking about how admissions are impacted by providing students and prospective students with the most effective - and most basic - digital tools, websites and mobile apps possible. 

In 2011, College Board published a study about the complexity in college admissions and it impacts students considering their higher education options. 

In 2012, EdWeek shared leadership about the digital divide in admissions. 

In 2019, Econofact published a study about how high achieving students aren't applying for admission as often or at highly competitive institutions. 

And, of course, this is a predominant theme in 2020 -2021 publications. 

We are working to make a difference. WWT can help you improve your institution's digital tools for prospective students to recognize their potential for success. 

Finding Education Options

Many high-achieving, low-income students rely on their own research capabilities to find higher education options. Those in small school districts are missed by traditional colleges’ outreach programs, and first gen students don’t have a frame of reference or knowledge base in how things are supposed to work. An abundance of new information causes overload and struggle.

Students turn primarily to search engines and college websites to research and identify their right-fit school.
 

What this means for digital

“Google first” search: Strong SEO must be part of institutional digital strategy (keyword-heavy site competition, Google’s zero-click environment, Google prioritization on sites with mobile-first sites)

Keyword research strategy is important to appear in students’ search results. Use keywords and language that students use.

Website content needs to be information-rich and easy to navigate, not necessarily text-dense

Resources & Support

First generation college and lower-income students with less guidance & fewer role models in their support network are less confident and overwhelmed in navigating unfamiliar admissions processes. As such, they are less likely to apply and apply to fewer schools because they are uncertain about their resources and potential for success, esp. at competitive and elite schools. These students overestimate how much college will cost and complex procedural barriers are high (e.g., college process is entirely new, filling out financial aid forms is complex, etc.) FAFSA completion, a strong indicator of whether students will enroll in college, declined by 9% by Mar ‘21. Community college enrollment – a strong entry point and source of transfer students - dropped by 21% in Fall 2020.

Lower-income students especially value personal support from guidance counselors, teachers, college alumni and college representatives in deciding where to apply and completing the enrollment process. They are less likely to ask for help from those they don’t know.
 

What this means for digital

Connecting students easily to guided procedural support and friendly, approachable resources for help in modes they can access is critical

Consider content for guidance counselors, instructors, alumni, community college advisors, and alumni personas as they work alongside together with students.

Channels & Devices

Students may lack extended access to high-speed internet and computer use at home for searching and planning. They may be limited in how much time and access they have on larger screens although many more students have smartphones and can browse websites on their phones.

Students may use external technical resources for their searching and planning. Public libraries, school computing labs and working alongside guidance counselors and friends provide a wider set of laptops and computers for students to search and plan. 


 

What this means for digital

Websites with admissions and enrollment content should be designed using a mobile-first strategy

Web content should be accessible and inclusive for users with slow network connections, low bandwidth and limited data plans, and limited screen sizes

Provide ability for prospective students to plan, save & return – don’t rely on user IP and browser cookies to identify returning users

Colorado School of Mines Students Discuss Technology Use During a Pandemic
WWT's Janet McIllece and Amanda Kwon talk with Colorado School of Mines students about the use of current technology during a pandemic. Topics include what has worked, what needed improvement, and what ideas do the students have for new technology and creative ways to use current technology.

Go to Video

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