Is your institution doing everything possible to make your programs accessible to students? If not, you might be missing out on opportunities to increase enrollments. Here we’ll illuminate some of the most important implications of accessibility from an education perspective.
Expanding accessibility benefits your institution and aspiring degree-seekers alike. These students can be a valuable source of additional enrollments for your institution, but you must proactively address their needs and concerns. Make accessibility—both through your application process and throughout your programs—a priority. Here’s how:
#1: Offer Your Programs Online
Commuting to campus or moving to your town aren’t feasible for all your prospective students. The surest way to maximize accessibility is to offer your degree and certificate programs online.
#2: Be Sure Your Faculty Are There for Online Students
Any student, campus-based or otherwise, can struggle in a course and may need to reach out to their professors from time to time for assistance. Remote students are more likely to be concerned about the availability of help. By holding regularly scheduled virtual office hours, your faculty can reassure online students that they’ll have access to the assistance they need. Your faculty should also commit to responding to online student messages promptly, e.g., within 24 hours.
#3: Think Outside Your City, State, and National Borders
Facilitate access to your institution for a wider array of students from foreign countries, remote areas where education access is limited, and, of course, other states. While targeted marketing can grab the attention of these prospects, it’s often not enough to get them to apply. You can ease some of the impediments specific to nonlocal students and create resources specifically for them:
-Offer the same tuition rate to in-state and out-of-state students.
-Provide transcript evaluation services to international applicants at no cost or at a reduced rate.
-Develop a concierge service to assist nonlocal online program applicants.
#4: Provide Essential Student Services and Resources Online
Your institution can replicate many of the advantages campus-based students experience by offering services and resources to students online, including:
-IT help desk
-Health and well-being services
#5: Make Disabled Students Feel Welcome and Secure
Online learning can provide distinctive benefits for some students with disabilities or certain conditions. The remote, virtual classroom may alleviate difficulties for students who have mobility or anxiety issues, for example. However, it can also create challenges for students with a variety of disabilities. Your ADA or accessibility office should be prepared to address the needs of these students, which may include providing them with or allowing them to use special assistive technology to complete courses. Examples of these accommodations include:
#6: Give Graduate Students a Pass on Pre-Admission Test Scores
Many institutions are waiving GRE and GMAT requirements for graduate school applicants. You should consider doing the same if you want to attract more prospective graduate students.
#7: Supply Virtual Tickets to Campus-Based Events
Online students should ideally have access to the same campus-based events that in-person students do. Consider making sporting events, concerts, guest speakers, and the like available as exclusive streaming content. Online students could access the events via a unique code or password that can only be used once. It’s a privilege that they can enjoy solely because they’re a valued part of your institution.
Apollidon Learning offers a broad range of services focused on helping higher education institutions increase online enrollments. We’re eager to discuss how your institution can make your programs more accessible to prospective students. Contact us today to get the discussion started.