The National College Access Network was pleased to host four Regional Meetings with the theme of Using Technology to Better Serve Students. We know that many of our members understand the importance of technology to collect, track, and use data to improve their programs and serve more students more effectively. They know that technology is often the best way to communicate with students and provide the critical information they need to access and be successful in post-secondary education. This year’s Regional Meetings will help attendees to be able to think through how to make decisions about the types of technology to use, in what instances, and how to best integrate those technologies in their work.
At each meeting there were a series of TECH Talks, which are short, inspirational talk maximum of 9 minutes on the topic of Using Technology to Better Serve Students. Presenters were encouraged to share the impact of their organization’s tool or product without demonstrating it.
Below is footage from the TECH Talk Series
Jenny Abramson of Personal described how “personal vaults” that store contact and financial information can streamline the college scholarship and application process by auto-filling this information.
Wendy Bhagat discussed the social media tools the US Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid has developed to help advisors engage and inform students through Facebook and Twitter.
April Bell of College Board told attendees about Big Future website which has free tools that advisors, students, and parents can use to navigate the college search, application, and financial aid process.
College Match & Fit –Students have a better shot at graduating from some institutions than others, though many don’t realize it. The Education Trust College Results Online is an interactive web tool designed to compare similar colleges based on: net price and student diversity how well they graduate different groups of students. Presented by Orville Jackson, Senior Research Analyst, this is free, interactive web tool will help students and families start with the end in mind – college graduation.
Application Timeline – College Mapper is a website that guides students through an action plan to achieve their educational or career goal. CEO Susanna Cerasuolo, currently a practicing guidance counselor, presented the platform. Counselors can track their entire cohort of students, run reports, and message all or select students. Parents can create an account that syncs to their student's to view progress. For each step, resources, videos, handouts and samples are provided to assist in creating a post-secondary plan.
Community College Completion – Conveyed by Founder and CEO, Catalina Ruiz-Healy, GradGears’ mission is to increase completion rates among community college students and accelerate their path to completion. The flagship product – GradGuru – is a free smartphone application that delivers campus-specific deadlines, evidence-based tips, and tools to students’ devices. With GradGuru, students keep track of deadlines, better understand the milestones they need to hit, learn what behaviors lead to academic success, and most importantly, share these lessons with one another.
Practitioners always encourage students to become more invested in their educational journey, and GoEnnouce is a resource for them to do just that. GoEnnounce is “disrupting the way students talk about their education by giving them a place to get rewards for their achievement and support and financial assistance when they need it,” according Melissa Davis, Co-Founder and CEO during her Tech Talk.
Identifying new technologies built to increase college access for a greater number of students is demanding but important work. Austin Buchan, Manager of Strategic Initiatives at NCAN Member College Forward, presented an energetic Tech Talk on the new phone application created by College Forward to supplement college access services.
Major and career path affects income, which is helpful information when students make their college and major choice. During the final Tech Talk, Jeff Webster, Assistant Vice President Research from TG, discussed Major Choices, an online debt-to-income calculator that students can use to get an estimate of potential median debt-to-income ratios for certain majors at many institutions in Texas.