Achieve the higher ed dream by staying curious

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There was only word on my mind as I left Achieving the Dream’s DREAM 2015 Conference (#ATD_DREAM): Inspired. I am completely inspired to help colleges and universities of every shape and size achieve their dreams of ensuring every student succeeds.

The conference was an amazing opportunity to interact with community colleges over four days and hear all the steps they have taken to help the underserved students in their communities and measurably increase student completion.

Key #1 to success: Keep asking questions
But my biggest inspirational takeaway from the conference came during a conversation with two college presidents. And that was to “keep asking questions.” It’s such a simple concept, but one that can help everyone do their jobs better. These two leaders in particular explained that when they assumed their roles, the biggest thing they did was to begin asking questions.

For example, one of them started by asking what is getting in the way of students completing their degrees or returning to campus? He then set out to solve those problems with the whole institution on board.

The other started out asking about job placement within 10 days of students receiving their degrees. The answers were sketchy at best. But by asking the right questions and providing a clear direction, fixing the issue became much simpler. This institution can now report that 92 percent of students have a job or are enrolled towards their next degree within 10 days of completion.

Now that is a dream come true!

At Achieving the Dream, finding the answers to your questions to show measurable improvement is just as important as the questions themselves. That’s why during DREAM 2015, a six-student panel representing a wide array of life journeys talked about how it felt when they didn’t even know what questions to ask when thinking about their next semesters.

Key #2 to success: Be the person with the answers
What made the difference to them? A single person. In each case, one person could be pointed to for supplying the student with the help and support they needed. A single person started a conversation with the student that made them feel comfortable and started a valuable Q&A session.

What does this have to do with Hyland, creator of OnBase? We bring technology to critical business processes on campus. But to improve your business processes on campus and implement technology with the most impact, we have to ask a lot of questions. We have to understand what you are doing and how we can improve it together. That way, together we can eliminate data entry and automate communication to free up “that one person” to talk to a student, answer their questions and help them find their path to degree completion.

Simply put, to help our students achieve their dreams, we need to be inspired to ask questions, provide answers and embrace technology.

Laurel Stiller

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more than 20 years of experience working to map proven solutions to higher education challenges, Laurel implemented ERP solutions at Dickinson College and University of Oregon Foundation before joining the sales and marketing team at Datatel, now Ellucian, Inc. Laurel offers a deep understanding of higher education, dedication to transparency and a fondness for candid conversations about the solutions Hyland develops and delivers to the market. You may reach her at Laurel.Stiller at onbase.com.

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