This week many college students are moving into their apartments and dorms to get settled in before their rigorous class schedules begin. Most colleges are very happy they have met their enrollment numbers for the semester, but now the real test begins, and it begins this week. Are we going to be able to retain these students we worked so hard to get?
Your college is being graded this minute and faculty has yet to commence teaching! You are being graded by both the students and their parents by how easy or hard you are making this move-in experience. For many, this is their first experience with the physical college campus since receiving the acceptance letter, unless they happened to attend an orientation.
My niece is attending a college near me. Her parents live out-of-state. I have already received three calls of pure frustration from her. The first was because the toilet in her apartment room doesn’t work. She has moved in with three other girls and they each have their own separate bedroom/bath, but share a common kitchen area. Each bedroom door locks itself when the door is shut. When she called maintenance to report her broken toilet that wouldn’t flush, she was told it was not a high priority item and would be on the calendar to be fixed in two days. Why isn’t it a high priority item? According to maintenance staff, she was told she could use the other three toilets. Not true, since each girl has her own key to her own room and may not be around when my niece needs to use the bathroom.
The second call was sheer anger in regards to her cable not working. After spending two hours, talking to nine different people, she still had not resolved her non-responsive internet. The first call went to the cable company’s Residential department who after hearing her issue explained, said she should talk to the Business department. Transfer. Business department after hearing explanation sent her to Property management. Property management said they were located in California and had no idea why she was told to call them since her college is in Florida, but did say that it happened often. They told her to call Contracts. Contracts said they couldn’t help her but to connect with Technical Support. Technical support said they only did television work, but would transfer her to Internet division. Finally, the Internet technical support said they would put in a work order for her, but called back and said the Work Order department was closed for the day and it would have to wait till tomorrow.
The third call was from a young woman who had been so excited about her first week of college and on only day two was now in tears asking me “Aunt Teri, if it is this hard to just live here, how will I ever be able to study and do well in my classes?”
Higher Ed customer service starts before classes start. Are you making the student experience that surrounds the classroom experience, easy or hard? When it is hard to take care of the simple things like toilets flushing, tv and internet cables working, the student cannot do their very best in the classroom, because they are worried as to what is happening outside the classroom. Which may be one reason why our colleges and universities have such low graduation and retention rates.