Apr 28 2022

5 Tech Offerings to Make Students Choose Your University on Decision Day

May 1 is National College Decision Day, the deadline for many high school seniors to choose which colleges they’ll attend in the fall.

Prospective students have many options when it comes to selecting a higher education institution. On May 1, many students will be making final decisions about where to attend college in the fall. Technology investments can help set some schools apart from the rest and add value to a student’s education.

Here are five tech offerings that can help encourage students to choose your institution over others.

1. Device Programs

It is nearly impossible for today’s college students to get through their education without their own devices. Laptops and tablets are vital for research and completing assignments, but the growing digital divide has shown that these devices are not always accessible for every student.

Device programs can be compelling for incoming students. At Shenandoah University, a per-semester device fee is rolled into each student’s tuition as part of the iMLearning program. This fee pays for a MacBook, iPad and Apple Pencil, all of which students keep when they finish their education.

“It’s not only been good for the students but for the university, because enrollment has increased,” says Don Silvius, support specialist for the program. “In 2006, enrollment was between 3,000 and 3,500, and it’s now roughly 4,000. It looks like the program may have been a factor in the increase in enrollment, since it has grown so much in the past 15 years.”

It’s also important to have the right infrastructure in place to support these programs. San Joaquin Valley College purchased 3,000 iPads for new and continuing students at the beginning of the pandemic and modernized its network to support the added demand when students returned to campus with the devices.

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2. Strong Campus Wi-Fi

Students are connecting more devices to campus networks than ever before, and with the rise in remote learning, many of them are logging on to classes from all over campus. Whether in dorms, outside or in a lecture hall, robust and reliable Wi-Fi is a must-have for incoming students.

Campus bandwidth sufficiency should be a high priority for any institution, but network modernization is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to evaluate your infrastructure to determine what bandwidth solutions are right for your campus. At the University of Michigan, IT teams implemented more than 15,000 Wi-Fi 6E access points around campus to support added demand on the network.

“Some people will have multiple cellphones in their pockets. They may have a laptop. They may have an iPad or other devices,” says Ravi Pendse, vice president of IT and CIO for the university. “When you walk into a classroom, into a library, into a cafeteria, you expect all those devices to be connected, whether you’re using all of them simultaneously or not.”

LEARN MORE: How the University of Michigan executed a network connectivity upgrade.

3. Robust Esports Programs

Esports is making waves in higher education as more than just an extracurricular. At Full Sail University, for example, career development is a major benefit of the university’s robust esports program.

But simply outfitting an existing computer lab with headsets and gaming keyboards will not make your program stand out among the growing community of collegiate esports programs. According to Doug Konopelko, national esports manager for CDW•G, savvy marketing, a strong sense of community and an authentic gaming experience are all ways to use esports as a recruitment strategy. A boldly designed esports lab or arena goes a long way in marketing a program to students.

4. Modern Sports Stadiums

Outside of the esports arena, innovative technology is also powering sports stadiums, which can be a draw for even the most casual college sports fans. Students expect the same experience from college stadiums as they do from professional stadiums, so enhancing the college sports fan experience with technology is a must. From digital ticketing to mobile concessions and robust stadiumwide Wi-Fi, modern technology is key to providing the experience incoming student sports fans want on game day.

DISCOVER: How stadium Wi-Fi connectivity can enhance the college fan experience.

5. Data Privacy Agency

While not as visible in everyday campus life as some of the other items on this list, data privacy is an important piece of a student’s college experience. According to the Future of Privacy Forum’s “College Students’ Attitudes Toward Data Privacy” report, as discussed in a 2021 EDUCAUSE presentation, 71 percent of survey respondents said they should have the right to control how their colleges use data about them.

According to Pegah Parsi, chief privacy officer at the University of California San Diego, students can be an integral part of data privacy decision-making. At UC San Diego, student voices are integral to shaping the university’s privacy practices, and the privacy office includes student leadership in all committees and governance. Students bring a valuable perspective to these conversations that might otherwise be overlooked.

“As administrators, sometimes we’re removed from the student lifestyle and forget what it’s like,” Parsi says. “It is helpful to hear input from those who are most impacted by the decisions we’re making. Our student leaders aren’t shy about voicing their concerns, and soon enough, a dialogue develops between the students and university administrators.”

As higher education becomes more data-driven, and data privacy becomes increasingly more important to students, knowing their university cares about their input can be equally important.

RELATED: How to prepare for forthcoming privacy laws.

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