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4 Ways Universities Can Use AI to Streamline Operations

4 Ways Universities Can Use
AI to Streamline Operations

As enrollment in higher education continues trending down, colleges and universities need to get creative in order to strengthen their margins and maintain profitability. At the same time, they need to figure out how to improve the student experience to buck enrollment trends.

One way to accomplish these goals is by making smart investments in technology. For example, by investing in artificial intelligence (AI) tools—and AI-powered chatbots in particular—institutions of higher learning can provide their students with better support while empowering their staff to focus on higher-level initiatives and tasks.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at four specific ways AI chatbots can help universities and colleges streamline operations and save money to crystallize profitability in the face of declining enrollment.

1. Reducing call and email volume

When you invest in leading chatbot solutions, you empower students to self-serve information at their own convenience. For example, a student might have a simple question about where to send payment or when enrollment opens for the next semester. When extrapolated across thousands of students and prospective students, however, the ability to answer simple questions can be severely hampered, impacting enrollment and retention, thus delivering a negative student experience. A chatbot can easily answer these types of routine questions in higher volumes, freeing staff from having to respond to the same inquiries over and over again while successfully meeting students’ needs.

A full-featured chatbot solution will be available across channels. Whether someone’s going to the website, calling on the phone, sending a text, or shooting an email over, a bot can answer routine questions. In turn, this saves staffers a great deal of time which can be invested in higher-value activities.

With the time saved by implementing a chatbot, you will be able to repurpose your existing staff to handle the more significant and complex interactions with students. For example, a first-generation prospective student might speak with a financial aid advisor to explain that they really want to go to college but they’re not sure if they’ll be able to afford it and want to know more about their financial aid options. This is the type of conversation you want your staff to have the time to engage in. On the flip side, if a new freshman is curious about where the library is located on campus, the chatbot can provide the library address and a map of campus. The vast majority of student inquiries fall into the latter category, making an omnichannel chatbot essential in providing 24/7 access to resources and information.

Recently, one large state university that had been outsourcing calls and emails to a third-party contact center invested in chatbot technology. Thanks to that investment, they were able to deflect 75 percent of calls and messages by utilizing the bot for tier 1 inquiries. Ultimately, this enabled them to bring their contact center back in-house again, saving a significant amount of money along the way.

Similarly, Broward College saved upward of $500,000 using chatbot technology. At the same time, chatbots helped Temple University reduce call volumes by 50 percent.

 

2. Streamlining the application process

Ultimately, higher education institutions make money when students enroll in school. This is why it’s so important to build a streamlined, optimal application process that maximizes the chances a prospective student will complete it.

This is another area where chatbots can be particularly helpful. For example, if a student begins the application process but walks away midway through it, an AI chatbot can automatically nudge them: “It’s been 10 days since you looked at your application. Is there anything we can do to help you through this process?”

These automatic reminders require no human involvement. They’re an easy way to increase the likelihood that students will complete their applications, which should translate into better enrollment figures. Additionally, the chatbot can have knowledge of each field within the application, allowing the prospective student to ask questions about how to complete the required field. If the bot’s answer isn’t sufficient, an Admissions Advisor can intervene and provide assistance via live chat, increasing the likelihood of application submission.

3. Increasing availability and accessibility

AI chatbots don’t need to eat, sleep, or take breaks. And that means that they work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whenever students have questions, they can self-serve answers via the chatbot—even when your entire staff is asleep.

This is a godsend for both traditional students and nontraditional ones, like the folks who have full-time jobs and can’t call admissions during the day. At the same time, leading chatbot solutions offer multilingual support. This enables international students to find the information they need easily, too.

Taken together, this increased availability and accessibility translates into better margins because all student populations have access to the information they need when they need it, which strengthens their experience and improves the chances they’ll ultimately enroll.

4. Improving operational efficiency

Higher education, like all other industries, is having a difficult time hiring enough workers to fulfill their missions. Thanks to chatbot technology, colleges and universities can overcome labor shortages by increasing operational efficiency and enabling staff to do more with less.

At a high level, chatbots improve operational efficiency across campus, which improves the staff and student experience. Instead of having to endure long wait times, students can get answers to their questions quickly, increasing satisfaction.

At the same time, staff can handle calls faster and have better-informed conversations when they need to intervene. Rather than being forced to track down information from their colleagues to address student concerns, that runaround is eliminated.

What’s more, because chatbots help provide a smoother application and enrollment process, the yield rate increases. And because the chatbot can also nudge students to make account payments automatically, checks come in faster, accelerating cash flow—all without human intervention.

As you can see, chatbots can have a profound impact on university operations, making life easier for staff and students alike. A simple investment in chatbot technology may be just what your university needs to weather the current storm academia faces.

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For Students News Student Succes Coaching

Welcome to 2023!!

Dear Students,

As Student Success Coaches, we would like to take this opportunity to reach out and communicate with you directly. We understand that your academic journey can be challenging, but please know that we are here to support you every step of the way.

We want to remind you that your success is our top priority. We are here to provide you with guidance, resources, and support to help you achieve your academic goals. Whether you need assistance with time management, study skills, or navigating the university, we are here to help.

It is important to remember that you are not alone in this journey. For this reason we have created this entry to provide you with a direct message and to be able to contact us more directly. We hope you enjoy.

Student Success Coaches

Welcome to 2023!!

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And just like that, a new year has begun! Welcome to 2023! No matter where you are on your academic journey, January always seems to represent fresh newness, a chance to do something different and set new goals. Whether you are in you second semester of your Freshman year, or in your Senior year and 5 months from graduation (Yes!)…carve out space to refocus on your plan for success. Reaffirm your goals. Revamp if necessary. And don’t feel bad if you have to! Successful people are constantly reviewing their previous goals and making them stronger. As you create, reaffirm or revamp your goals, add a few things. Promise yourself that this year you will Be kind to yourself. Be honest with yourself. And suspend your judgement of yourself. Allow yourself to be human. Make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Turn failures into opportunities for growth. 2023 is going to be a new adventure for all of us. I’ve heard it said that life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. May this year be filled with those beautiful, adventurous moments! Here’s to a FANTASTIC 2023!

Happy New Year!!!

Dr. Ndala Booker

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The 3 Best Note-Taking Apps

The 3 Best Note-Taking Apps

Taking notes used to be so simple. She would take out a sheet of parchment, dip her quill in ink, and begin to write. In 2023, we’re faced with a dizzying array of note-taking tools and apps. How do you choose which one to use? Here are the top 3 note-taking apps you can use back to school:

Notion

Offers a powerful, database-driven note-taking experience that’s unlike most apps out there.

Pros: 

  •  Flexible pages. Notion has a template engine that allows you to turn pretty much anything into an easily-duplicated template, including a multi-layered collection of pages. It also has great media embedding and previewing tools, including a gallery view for photos and videos.
  •  Powerful tables. Tables in Notion aren’t just charts; they’re databases. Think of Notion’s databases as Google Docs + Google Sheets. Every row in a table is its own Notion page that you can go into and update.
  •  Nested hierarchical organization. You’re probably tired of this. But Notion does this. You can even turn a set of text into a dropdown so you can roll it up when you want non-immediate information out of the way.
  •  Hybrid editor. Notion lets you write in Markdown or use normal keyboard shortcuts and UI elements to format your text.
  •  Free personal accounts. As long as you don’t mind the 5 MB file upload limit, Notion’s free plan offers everything you need to take notes.

Cons: No offline support. Currently, you need to have an internet connection to use Notion. The team is working to change this, but it’s a big limitation at the moment.

Price: Free

Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Web

Evernote

Evernote is a cross-platform note-taking app that’s great for processing hand-written notes and clipping articles from the web. The price, however, could be prohibitive on a student budget.

Pros

  •  Multiple file formats. If you’re on a paid plan, Evernote can hold anything your professor throws at you: PDFs, PowerPoints, the 3 different sheets of requirements for one project. One fun extra: If you paste a Google Docs link, Evernote creates a Google Drive icon in-line and changes the URL to the name of the doc.
  •  Scanner for mobile. You can use Evernote as a scanner to take photos of pages of books when you don’t want to pay for photocopying. It also has optical character recognition.
  •  Web clipper for browsers. Great for saving those New York Times articles that are hidden behind a paywall so you can use them for your essay later. You can pick how much of the page you want to capture: everything, just the article text, or a highlighted selection of text.

Cons

  •  Limited organization. Imagine your study area’s desk: You have notebooks lying around that contain class notes, random doodles, and frustrated journal entries. You can pile up semi-related notebooks into stacks. You can put sticky notes or flags into pages of the notebook that contain certain topics you want to refer to. That’s the extent of organization with Evernote: stacks, notebooks, notes, and tags.
  •  No Markdown support. If you typically write in Markdown to speed up your writing process, you’ll find its lack of support in Evernote frustrating.
  •  Pricey. If you use Evernote to scan documents and save research papers as I do, the 60 MB included in the free plan won’t cut it. And if you want to use it with more than 2 devices or use optical character recognition, you have to go Premium. At least students get 50% off Premium for a year.

Price: $7.99 / month

Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Web

OneNote

Microsoft’s free cross-platform note-taking app gives Evernote a run for its money, though the interface leaves something to be desired.

Pros

  • Totally. Free. It has everything Evernote can do, but there’s no premium tier. So you get the full feature set out of the box.
  • On basically all the platforms (for free). Just had to emphasize this: With OneNote, you get unlimited devices — a feature that other note-taking apps, like Evernote and Bear, keep behind a premium subscription.
  • Freeform. Unlike Evernote, you can put text boxes everywhere on the screen for OneNote. You can draw. You can even change the background to look like a ruled notebook!

Cons

  • Even less organization than Evernote. It lacks note sorting options, such as sorting notes by newest created or newest modified.
  • Messy interface + Limited tagging capabilities. With OneNote, you have notebooks and dividers within notebooks. Then you can also indent notes within notes. But it’s all over the user interface: notebooks on the left, dividers up top, then notes on the right. I’m a messy note-taker myself, but c’mon.

Price: Included with a Microsoft 365 subscription (starting at $69.99 / year). Check if you have free access through your school or company.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Web

There are a lot of note-taking apps out there. And as with most recommendations, you have to figure out what works for you.
I hope that this list will help you decide on your note-taking app, whether it’s on this list or not.

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