5 Ways to Increase Student Engagement at the Start of Every Semester
If you want to engage your students, there’s no better time than at the beginning of a new semester. It’s a chance for a fresh start, an opportunity to begin on a strong note that can potentially last until finals.
To put your best foot forward from the start and connect with your students, try these 5 tips to increase student engagement at the start of every semester:
#1 – Host a Welcome Back Event
You don’t need a specific reason to host an event, but showcasing your best talents at a Welcome Back celebration can give you an optimal chance to shine. Use it as an opportunity to highlight changes you’ve made that will benefit the students. Promote specials, contests, upcoming events, and other newsworthy items. Above all, make sure you mention how you’re there to help the students get the most from their experience.
#2 – Promote Your Customer Feedback Processes
New classes, new schedules, new friends, new surroundings – the beginning of a semester is always full of new things. Your students may be more likely to contribute feedback if you introduce your feedback collection processes at the beginning of the semester. For instance, if you have invested in SMS surveys or QR codes, promoting them at the beginning of the semester will give your new process a strong chance of being utilized.
#3 – Schedule More Staff Than Necessary
All hands should be on deck at the beginning of the semester, whether you think you need them or not. Customer traffic the first couple weeks of school can be unpredictable, especially when parents are roaming the campus with their college students. At the very least, use your extra staff to proactively reach out and boost the experience. Ask individual students for their feedback, talk about upcoming events, or simply get to know the students you serve. Starting on a strong note can set high expectations for the rest of the semester.
#4 – Establish Your Space as a Hangout
With all the school work, schedule adjustments, and pressing deadlines looming over students, students need to know that the campus isn’t just a place for learning, but can also be a destination for escape. Those who want to get away from classroom stresses need somewhere to go that’s easy to access, cheap (or free), and can help them enjoy their time outside the lecture hall. Students should feel less stressed and more at home on campus, which can fuel a sense of community.
#5 – Offer Incentives to Students to Visit Particular Areas of the Campus
Oftentimes students never see certain parts of the campus, either because their schedules don’t allow it or because they have no reason to. You can encourage faculty to offer incentives to students to visit certain parts of the campus, such as the dining hall or a particular snack bar, and redeem their receipt for extra credit. Or, create a scavenger hunt to send them to various points of interest on campus or collect signatures from key personnel. This gives students the opportunity to learn more about the roles of different staff and departments so they’ll know who to turn to for specific situations.
Boosting student engagement in the beginning can create benefits that will last all semester long. The sooner you can make these connections, the better the experience can be for everyone.