This presentation discussed the hardships and payoffs of implementing an integrated student services center, which is also commonly referred to as a One Stop Shop. In an integrated student services center, institutions provide multiple services in one location. This is a preferable alternative to having multiple locations with singular functions, which can detract from the student experience.
Creating an integrated student services center requires a paradigm shift in the way the office will function. Business processes may need to be re-engineered to deliver a seamless experience for their students. This can require staff to be retrained, buildings or offices to be repurposed, and the structure of the office to be reorganized. An example that was provided was an office that had the goal of integrating services for registration, financial aid, and billing from three locations into one facility. The process involved the Human Resources Office, which assisted with restructuring job positions and adding new “one stop counselor” and “senior counselor” positions. A mentor program was created so that new employees would feel comfortable asking a mentor for assistance. The program also served a dual purpose in giving mentors a chance to demonstrate leadership and teach best practices to their junior colleagues.
In order for integrated student service centers to be successful, it requires continuous improvement, training, and a set of standards that can be evaluated to measure how well it is doing. Another important aspect is obtaining customer feedback. This could provide insight to student satisfaction and provide direction for things the office may need to improve on. Integrated service centers need employees who are knowledgeable, efficient, friendly and can demonstrate empathy with their students. Therefore, it is very important that the right people are hired to represent the organization. In addition to hiring the right people, it is important to develop refresher training and provide a variety of work for staff members by rotating tasks. That way, employees are not always working on the same project or feel underutilized.
Once the integrated services center has been implemented, it is important to do outreach and offer things like financial aid nights, parent and student orientation, and prospective student events. This can help increase teamwork within the service center and at the same time show the community that the institution cares about its prospective and enrolled students.
Publication Date: 7/28/2016