While remote classrooms were new to most students, virtual orientation has been around for 20+ years. The convenience and flexibility that Online Orientation provides makes it invaluable to busy students, non-traditional and traditional alike. Not only that, but research study from West Georgia that these options improve student retention up to 7% and increase student engagement. Virtual Orientation catches students that would have otherwise slipped through the cracks – when it is done well using the proper platform.
Virtual Orientation is an effective tool in the fight against student attrition when schools have access to high-quality easy-to-use software. While many schools made do during the height of the Pandemic, students’ expectations have shifted. It’s clear that schools need the right tool for the task.
Here are 3 reasons why you need Online Orientation Software and Training Platform:
1) Reporting and catching things early
An Online Orientation and Training Software comes with smarter tracking and more extensive data. This allows the school to identify students who are at risk of dropping out early by looking at who has not engaged with Orientation or has not completed it. The asynchronous aspect opens up Orientation to those who would otherwise miss it and feel left out, aiding non-traditional and low-income student groups by offering flexible scheduling. Features like automatic messages remind the students to complete the program, making sure they have the information they need, and built-in surveys provide feedback quickly and efficiently.
Much more than simply bells and whistles, all of these features help schools intervene early on, reducing attrition. They maximize a school’s reach and perception, identifying problems while they can be addressed.
2) Ease of Use
Far from being about convenience, having easy-to-access software should be the first line of defense in a school’s student retention strategy. Students have dealt with a lot of online material in the last few years and are more critical of it. They have higher expectations and are tired of making do, so it is important that the software that host their Virtual Orientation be as easy to use as possible.
Inside HigherEd magazine reported that “80 percent of students struggle with motivation to complete coursework” for online learning. Is this because of the online classes and training or could this be caused by the way information is conveyed? Could difficulty in accessing online material hinder students?
This same lack of motivation applies to other online requirements, which means schools need to take it into account when designing their program. Having any barrier or sense of a puzzle – such as having to figure out their LMS to get to their orientation – will discourage students, especially those that are already hesitant about enrollment.
The experience needs to be seamless.
3) Expectations and Credibility
Just like with in-person, online orientation sets expectations for the student, giving them insight into their college experience and the help that will be available to them.
In their article, US News says that Online Orientations specifically “give students a sense of the time commitment and mindset they will need to excel at online learning, which many believe is actually more challenging than studying at a brick-and-mortar institution.”
This gauging of difficulty is one of the dynamics of Orientation, but it’s clear that right now students are more hesitant and critical than usual. This is why a cohesive warm welcome is necessary. Connecting to our earlier point on ease of use, how a student navigates their Virtual Orientation will set expectations as to how their classes are set up.
Is it organized and well-managed?
Is it easy to navigate and complete?
Online Orientation needs to be a “unified front”, a smooth experience, that convinces the student the effort they will put in will be worth it. This is the time to be as professional and personable as possible, which requires a cohesive well-crafted orientation program.
Now that Virtual Orientation is a staple of Higher ED, students are looking to that Orientation to gauge their future school experience.
Having the right tools isn’t simply about a nicer look or keeping up appearances, it’s about reducing frustration and reassuring the student. Unlike make-shift models, these tools were created for the task. Online Orientation Software gives institutions the right equipment to create a well-crafted program and identify retention issues early on.
Orientation is the first hoop students jump through, and that experience needs to be designed to give them motivation and momentum.