For the past several years, Eduventures has covered the one-stop shop (OSS) model for integrated student services. In addition to defining OSS and its potential benefits for universities, we hosted a webinar earlier this year with Blackboard on how data from OSS service centers can predict student behavior and support institutional initiatives like retention intervention and resource planning for advising. Through our research on the workflows and data sources that are integrated into the OSS model, we discovered many new and compelling ways that it is being used to promote enrollment, retention, and career placement initiatives.
The traditional OSS implementation model is based on how enrolled students experience services horizontally. New applications for OSS are expanding the model to include prospective students and alumni in an enterprise-wide service model. In addition to a portal that admits, enrolls, orients, bills, and graduates students, these new models focus on engaging prospective students and ensuring graduates’ career placement. This also enables additional stakeholders within university relations and career services to respond to routine questions and requests for assistance using the same technologies that the offices of admission, financial aid, the registrar, and the bursar use today.
This expansion was to be expected, as the OSS model has grown horizontally across the institution to support all phases of the student lifecycle in recent years. The 2016 NASFAA Benchmarking Report documents this growth. While many OSS models began with a focus on centralized, transactional enrollment-related services (e.g., class registration and tuition payment), a consistent need for specialized service offerings for unique populations drives the adoption of these new, cross-functional models.
Here are just a few of the student populations that are served by extending the OSS model to include university relations and career services:
- Veterans. Providing a single destination for all veterans—whether they are prospective, current, or graduated students—allows institutions to route requests for information to specialists who are familiar with the extra steps and paperwork that veterans must complete to maximize financial aid and career placement services.
- People with disabilities. A centralized information portal that is optimized for accessibility and includes tools and resources is just one critical aspect of an OSS model for students with disabilities. Granting staff access to comprehensive student records, including assessments of need and service statements, goes a long way in eliminating students’ need to repeat themselves when interacting with new support professionals.
- International students. Probably more than any other group, international students must complete extra steps in almost every transactional process throughout their academic experience. An OSS should automatically identify students who need this assistance, connect them with staff who are familiar with these steps, and offer resources translated into multiple languages.
- Parents. For younger students who are not yet ready to apply, parents are typically the primary audience for an OSS solution. A centralized portal can route parents’ questions to the appropriate department and dispense information about admissions requirements and the student experience.
- Millennials and Generation Z. An OSS can help meet student expectations for more frequent, timely communication from the admissions office during recruitment and continued engagement while enrolled.
- Online learners. Online program managers need an OSS to scale service offerings for large groups of non-traditional students.
- Job seekers. Current students, soon-to-be graduates, and recent alumni all benefit from an OSS portal that includes job boards, hiring events, employer inquiries, career-focused networking, and mentoring opportunities. Career service offices can also scale their operations by adopting a ticketing process for the review of resumes and employment opportunity-focused portfolios. On-campus career service staff or outsourced professional HR companies can engage students in career placement activities.
As the list of departments supported by OSS expands, the outsourced role of vendors still applies. Some vendors and technology platforms are better suited to servicing different domains of information and resources. The unique workflows associated with assigning career advisors to respond to inquiries about resumes, job opportunities, and career fairs will require a technology platform that has a more deeply integrated CRM functionality for staff and a ticketing portal for students.
Typically, the same institutions that have adopted an enterprise-wide CRM strategy are also well served to adopt an institution-wide OSS approach that spans the student lifecycle. Institutions shouldn’t expect to outsource every servicing option that an OSS supports to a vendor. It is most effective for institutions to manage requests for faculty mentors or staff to review career-focused portfolios, as they are more involved in managing staff resources and employer-institution relationships.
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