What Is Academic Advising Software?
Academic advising software enables colleges and universities to facilitate and track interactions between students and their academic advisors or college counselors. Typical features include tools for appointment scheduling, virtual meetings, instant messaging, student success plans, plus data and analytics for reporting.
Why online advising is a prerequisite for online learning
Before COVID-19 forced colleges and universities online, the Connected Student Report found that digital-age students expected more online services than schools were providing. Among students surveyed:
- 39% expected 1:1 online advising (provided by 20% of schools)
- 47% expected access to an online chat service (provided by 26% of schools)
- 51% expected online application support (provided by 35% of schools)
While higher education has embraced online learning—and one-third of students were taking at least one online course before schools went remote in spring 2020—some institutions have been slower to roll out virtual student services like academic advising.
As a result, their coronavirus response plans have relied on short-term advising solutions like free video conferencing apps (not secure) or email and telephone support (not student-friendly). Whether or not schools reopen for face-to-face learning in fall 2020, most students still need and want online advising.
For online and nontraditional students who are more likely to work full time or care for dependents, making a special trip to campus to meet with an advisor or counselor can be a barrier to student success. The same is true for students with disabilities.
According to a profile of 21st-century college students by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, nearly half of all students are now categorized as nontraditional because:
- 45% are age 22 or older
- 45% live off campus but not with parents
- 28% are parents themselves
- 26% work full time
- 14% take online classes only
Just as these students need the flexibility of online learning, they need academic advising and campus support services they can access from anywhere.
How academic advising software improves student success
Advisors and counselors empower students to meet their personal, professional, and academic goals. They help students explore potential majors and career paths, and serve as guides to complex campus systems. More importantly, they foster a meaningful connection to the institution.
Many students, especially ethnic minorities and first-generation students, report feeling isolated and disconnected. A recent academic study found that a greater sense of belonging “predicts better persistence, engagement, and mental health,” especially among freshman. This underscores the importance of advisors and counselors as touch points for student engagement.
To increase the reach and effectiveness of advising staff, NASPA says “institutions are investing in technology tools that have the potential—when purchased and implemented wisely—to transform academic advising and student success.” Additionally, the Deloitte Center for Higher Education Excellence reports that “colleges and universities are adopting a growing number of digitally-enabled student services, in addition to traditional in-person services offered on campus.”
Features for online advising
Just as learning management systems facilitate anytime, anywhere access to distance education, academic advising software helps extend student support beyond campus. Effective virtual advising requires technology that mirrors in-person workflows and methodologies with tools for:
- Appointment scheduling. Make it easy for students to self-schedule appointments online from any internet-connected device.
- Virtual meetings. Maintain a face-to-face connection for 1:1 or group sessions with built-in video conferencing that’s ADA, HIPAA, and FERPA-compliant.
- Instant messaging. Answer student questions quickly via live chat from any mobile device.
- Student success plans. Collaborate with faculty and staff across campus to create a personalized plan to help every student succeed.
- Data and analytics for reporting. Integrate advising software with your LMS and SIS to improve the breadth and depth of institutional reports.
Choose software built for higher education
Submit the form below to schedule a demo of ConexED, the interactive platform for student services and instruction. It has all the features you need for online advising and counseling.