I am guessing that not many of us went into the field of student affairs to be working with excel sheets and reporting, but being able to track student information and accurately report outcomes is an important part of many roles, particularly as you advance in the field. Here are three points I’ve noticed are important to keep in mind when considering how you collect, manage, and utilize student information:
Simplicity for Students
Most of us use some system to store information about students, schedule appointments, and or track their attendance at events or appointment. When the systems have a component accessed by students, make sure they can be navigated easily. It may be the one system we are using all day, but sometimes students are being asked to use multiple systems across campus to schedule appointments with different offices, pay their bills, etc. Our student workers are great at helping our office recognize when our systems or processes are confusing for students, and I also frequently log in through the student side to identify points where the experience for users can be improved or simplified.
Integration for Staff
Being able to work directly with students in meaningful and engaging ways is the most important part of many student affairs positions. The systems and processes we have should support that while also reducing the amount of time we spend inputting data. Our office used to have a separate scheduling system that didn’t sync with our notes/content system, so we were going back and forth between them while also needing to remember to send follow-up surveys to students. Moving to a more integrated approach took a lot of time and work over the summer, but it’s made our daily management much easier. We also automated our advising follow-up survey to be triggered by students swiping in for appointments, and we set up templates for the reports we commonly pull to reduce time.
Ability to Track Impact
No matter your functional area, it’s typical for other offices on campus or for administrators to ask for student information or outcomes. Strong content management systems help, but offices also often need input or feedback from students to go into reporting or assessment. Although it can be tempting to develop detailed student surveys, simplicity can help you get the information you actually need and can use. I find it’s helpful to have just a few quantitative questions as well as the opportunity for general comments, with the goal that it will only take students a minute or two to provide feedback after appointments or events. The comments are generally the most insightful in helping us know whether our services are effective or need to be adjusted, and integrating comments into reports can help us share the work our office is doing and how it fits into the university’s mission.
In November, #SACareer is dedicated to technology. Read how your peers are utilizing technology to elevate their offices and run more efficiently.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at email@example.com.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Mallory Bower on Career Services and Job Search Tips