Among learners in higher education, the new tradition is nontraditional. Rapid workforce shifts (the technology-driven decline of traditional careers and emergence of new ones), combined with expanded educational options, are pushing institutions to reframe the long-held view of the college student.
Consider that over the next six years, the number of people 35 and older who enroll in college will grow 20 percent, compared to 13 percent for the traditional 18- to 24-year-old set, according to a National Center for Education Statistics report. And today, across all age groups, roughly one-third of students are taking at least one distance education course, according to NCES data.
This break with tradition is breaking IT. A prime example is legacy student information systems that were never designed to accommodate noncredit courses, distance learning, boot camps, self-paced study that doesn’t neatly fit into academic calendars and the increasingly diverse mix of private, public and institutional financial aid sources.
This gap between traditional systems and modern learning trends can be frustrating for students as well as for institutions.
Oracle Student Cloud Covers End-to-End Lifecycle
IT vendors are responding with solutions to accommodate traditional and nontraditional students throughout their education journey. One example is the new version of Oracle Student Cloud, which is designed to cover every step from recruiting to alumni relations.
The suite includes Student Management, which provides the kinds of self-service options students of every age now expect based on their consumer experiences. For instance, they can enroll entirely online without paperwork, use keywords to find relevant courses, see whether seats are available, add courses to their carts and check out. Self-service also frees campus staff to focus on other tasks, such as helping students who have unique requirements.
Student Management has built-in social collaboration tools for classes that leverage social networking experiences and preferences, and is key for nontraditional environments such as distance learning and self-paced study.
Financial Planning Tools Help Students Review Multiyear Plans
Another part of Oracle Student Cloud is Student Financial Planning, which lets colleges create and continually modify their own set of funding and financing sources. This set of tools also assists students in reviewing a multiyear plan so they can instantly see how a change today in grades or financing choices will affect them down the road.
In the process, Student Financial Planning provides two additional side benefits. The first is empowerment: Providing these tools gives traditional and nontraditional students the sense they’re in control of their academic and financial destiny. As with Student Management, the self-service capabilities mean staff can devote more time to supporting students in other ways.
One thing is certain: Academics and the student population will continue to evolve. A highly flexible SIS ensures that institutions and students have the technological foundation to thrive tomorrow.
This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.