Montgomery County Community College (MC3) is a two-year college located in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania -- and there are about 75 other colleges and universities in the area.
Within this competitive marketplace, and with a desire to support student access and success, MC3 is engaged in continuous efforts to improve its entry processes. They are focused on access, retention and completion, looking for problem areas, where change could be implemented.
Five representatives from MC3 -- Dr. Kevin Pollock, President; Phil Needles, VP Student Services; Dr. Celeste Schwartz, VP Information Technology; Joe Mancini, Executive Director, Information Technology; and Maureen O’Mara Carver, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, shared their experience "Designing a New Student Experience and Eliminating Barriers to Access and Student Success" in their well-attended and aptly-named session at the 2018 SEM Conference.
Over the past six to seven years, MC3 has put several technology solutions into place, such as tools for early alert, academic planning, career planning and predictive analytics. They stress, however, that focusing on process improvement is just as important (if not more) as technology.
They have also worked on their advising services, building check-in and checklist systems whereby new students are engaged in several activities (including a video and an intake form) that cover preliminary information about MC3 and their own study interests, thus enabling advisors to spend more quality time with those students planning their program at MC3, identifying concerns and resources. They continue to address MC3's resources for advising services, expanding hours, adding part-time advisors, etc. In peak times, the appointment times stretch out, which is an issue they are continually examining.
The team also examined their communication materials, discovering that they were not using the same language and terminology in various materials, thus confusing students. And they continue to look at the downstream and upstream processes from outreach to enrollment. They stressed that it is important to try things, and that mistakes can be OK within an environment that embraces change. Their goal is to connect students to the campus and to nurture a college culture where everyone knows that students come first.