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High expectations and unexpected changes are coming. Are your academic plans ready for them?

Having an academic plan for every student is a solid first step toward boosting completion rates. Visualization techniques have long been leveraged to help people meet long-term goals, and this same approach can help students stay motivated from day to day and semester to semester.  

Whether you help students visualize their path to graduation through a combination of PDFs and Excel workbooks or you buy into what’s sold as a dynamic, next generation academic planner, your academic plans still run the risk of not being used by students. 

From high student expectations to requirement changes — both on the student and departmental side — here are the three greatest threats to your academic plans.  

Threat #1: Unmet Student Expectations  

Students have high expectations when it comes to user experience. In all other aspects of their lives, they see (or perhaps don’t even see!) powerful technology making their decisions easier.  

For instance, they don’t need to remember brand names. They type “jacket” into the search bar and, taking into consideration what other shoppers suggest, Amazon automatically curates a list of picks that it “thinks” they’ll like. 

They don’t have to think about what to watch after finishing The Great British Baking Show. Based on their previous choices, Netflix knows to start another food and travel series next.  

They don’t have to worry about finding an ATM for their road trip. Google Maps knows to avoid toll roads based on their saved preferences — and if they’re in a rush, they can easily update those preferences and automatically set out on a new route.  

Why would today’s consumers — your students — expect anything less from your institution, especially considering the time and financial investment they’re making with you? They’re used to user-friendly and smart platforms. A PDF or spreadsheet is too clunky and even the flashiest academic planning interface isn’t enough if it’s missing the “smart” part.  

Threat #2: Changing Student Plans 

The Postsecondary National Policy Institute (PNPI) reports that 85% of students are “post-traditional,” meaning they have one or more of these characteristics: 

  • They delay enrollment in college after high school. 
  • They attend part time for at least part of an academic year. 
  • They work full time while also enrolled in school. 
  • They are financially independent.  
  • They have dependents (a spouse and/or children).  

With that in mind, it’s likely that most of your students are more than just students. With all that they’re balancing, this semester they could have scheduling conflicts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:30 AM, and next semester they may only be available during that time slot.  

Does your academic planner automatically take your students’ needs into consideration? If they change, does it change as well to keep them on track? Perhaps the quickest way to lose a student’s attention is to treat them as anything less than an individual. Your student doesn’t see herself as a Fall 2022 Biology major — she sees herself as a commuter who has to be finished with class by 2:00 pm to make daycare pickup and then head to her night shift. She expects her academic plan to meet these unique needs.  

Threat #3: Changing Degree Requirements 

Degree requirement planning often happens in a silo. Updates made by faculty and department heads take too long to make their way to the advising office, so students waste time and money on excess credits. This is an even bigger challenge for the students who don’t make regular visits to the advising office.  

To boost your completion rates, you need to treat your students like individuals, saving them time and money and keeping them on track to graduation. Not just any academic plans will do, and that’s why EduNav offers the only automated, integrated, and optimized academic planning technology that can truly help you overcome the three main threats to your academic plans. See how today.