Interest Beyond the Interest

Institutions of Higher Education design web experiences to provide a service. In rare occasions, whenever dealing with new students or retention, schools attempt to gather intelligence about student intent. Years ago, we designed a process at High Point University to provide customized billing that streamlined how all students received and viewed important information, but it also included tracking functionality that showed us when students opened and viewed their bills. This information was not used to "catch students" but to help administration understand which students were going to have trouble paying for their tuition. We were then able to individually address and help many students who would have otherwise simply quit their college career from potential embarrassment or from not knowing there were helpful resources available at the university.

That was in 2006. We are now heading into 2019 and the game has changed completely. Understanding intent is no longer good enough. We now need to understand the "interest beyond the interest."

We recently designed a new registration system for a portion of courses served by the North Carolina Community College System, and during the design process we took the following key points into consideration:

If a potential student provides basic information but does not complete the course sign up, can we determine the intent of the student? By removing barriers from the existing process we can increase the possibility that students enroll. However, can we measure the “interest beyond the interest?” Can we determine why a student is attempting to sign up for a course? What is the catalyst that sparked the interest and a desire to start an engagement with us? Is it passion, curiosity, or need?

With these questions in mind, we started designing our new system with a brand new attitude and a focused view of how the service should be delivered.

Once institutions understand intent, admissions staff can engage a potential student in a way that inspires them to achieve that which they want, generating a win-win relationship that will hopefully last a lifetime.