A state institution serving almost 40,000 students, Utah Valley University enrolls a significant number of new students each year. However, some of their processes were “clunky,” said Andrew Stone, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, and there was a clear need to improve the onboarding experience.
“We took some time, pulled together a campus committee of different divisions and areas, such as admissions, registrar, financial aid, orientation, academic affairs, advising, IT, and facilities, to develop solutions,” Stone said. ”We needed to bring the campus together for this.”
After this campus-wide group provided the impetus, a smaller core group continued to meet regularly, looping back in the other departments as needed to approach particular projects.
One key initiative to emerge from the effort was a survey sent out each semester to new students, both transfer and first-year, asking them to identify points of frustration during the onboarding process. Since implementing the survey in 2017, the committee uses the information to identify and prioritize what parts of the onboarding process need the most work.
“The survey covers 35 different topics and we get a lot of cool information from it,” Stone said. “They’ll say parking is the most frustrating, of course, and then identify other things like submitting financial aid documentation, finding classes, or getting student IDs or textbooks.”
Sent out after fall and spring semesters, the survey has a response rate of around 20 percent of the new student population -- a little over 1000 students -- providing more than 120 pages of open responses.
“It has been a really rewarding experience,” Stone said. “Lots of people get excited about it. With multiple years of data to support change, people respond quickly when they see the things that need to be addressed.”
Better enrollment dashboard
Survey results helped support a major improvement to the enrollment dashboard, a part of the SIS where admitted students can see their onboarding progress. Incorporating survey feedback, UVU now offers new students an easy-to-navigate online portal with step-by-step guidance for students regarding financial aid, registration, advising and more -- each section marked with flags to the student’s next step and indicating what’s already complete.
“The dashboard was built by our IT department,” Stone said. “It required a lot of customization to connect all these systems.”
Stone and a cross-campus team from UVU will share how they developed the dashboard, walk attendees through the student experience, and share lessons learned in their session “Assessing and Innovating Student Onboarding” at this fall’s AACRAO SEM Conference.
In addition, they’ll share some other process improvements that have resulted from their onboarding survey, including putting more forms online, removing unnecessary steps, and reducing emails to students.