College Students Expect a More Connected Technology Experience Outside the Classroom

Ellucian research finds over half of undergraduate students’ school apps are far behind consumer app experiences

RESTON, Va.--()--Ellucian, a provider of software and services built to power higher education, today revealed the findings of its annual student study, this year titled: “Students Are Looking for Personalized Digital Experiences: Do Colleges Deliver?”

“Today’s modern students take technology into consideration when deciding which college is right for them, and expect a more universal, connected experience inside and outside of the classroom,” said Ellucian vice president of user experience, Mariana Cavalcanti. “Just like any other mobile application or service they have grown up with, students demand a personalized experience that will help them adjust to their new surroundings, optimize their life on campus and connect more deeply with their school experience.”

Students Demand a Tech Savvy School

Students today have an ever-growing expectation of technology on campus. Research found that almost all (97 percent) students believe that technology outside the classroom is just as important to their success as technology inside the classroom.

  • The clear majority (87 percent) of students report that when applying to colleges, it was important to them that the school was technologically “savvy.”
  • While most students (85 percent) claim their school has a centralized application, on average students must log-in to four different platforms to access college-related information or activities.
    • Larger schools, those with more than 15,000 students, have even more platforms students need to access, with 1 in 4 students logging into five or more platforms.

Personalization Matters

Another key survey finding is that personalization should drive the app users experience, with nearly three in five (58 percent) students reporting that of all the companies or entities they engage with, their college is the furthest behind in personalizing their experience.

  • 68 percent of students whose college offers a centralized campus app were “overwhelmed” by the volume of information their college provided when they first started their higher education journey.
  • When no app was offered, 85 percent of students believe it would have made the transition to college easier as well as increased their participation in student organizations.
  • The study also found that students most want to see data-driven personalization for:
    • Career preparation: job assistance and interview training (29 percent)
    • Finances: tuition and financial aid (28 percent)
    • Academic matters: course registration and checking grades (25 percent)
    • Student life: housing and student organizations (18 percent)

“The evidence is clear: when schools break down data silos to create personalized experiences, students will benefit,” says Cavalcanti.

Technology Can Create an Emotional Connection

“We all know that students feel vulnerable when they first step foot on campus and begin their college journey,” continued Cavalcanti. “When schools work to connect with students on an emotional level it can help them get started on the right path and be critical to success and long-term loyalty.”

  • Students said that institutions can make them feel more emotionally connected to their school by:
    • Creating ways to connect with other students or make friends (56 percent)
    • Suggesting coursework based on academic performance and interests (47 percent)
    • Proposing potential event attendance based on student major or interests (45 percent)
    • Delivering alerts for school deadlines (44 percent)
    • Crafting opportunities to connect with faculty (42 percent)
    • Suggesting ideas for supplemental resources or tutoring (26 percent)
  • 81 percent of students believe social media fosters an emotional connection to their campus and is essential to modern student life.
    • Preferred platforms: Facebook (33 percent) and their college’s centralized app (30 percent)

To learn more, read the full survey report or stop by booth 1400 at EDUCAUSE.

About the Study

The Ellucian Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 U.S. college students, between September 22nd and October 2nd, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure representative and statistically significant numbers of students who attend four year vs. two year institutions, students ages 24+ and students who work full-time. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

About Ellucian

Inspired by the transformative impact of education, Ellucian develops solutions that power the essential work of colleges and universities. As the world’s leading provider of software and services designed for higher education, Ellucian works with more than 2,500 institutions in nearly 50 countries—enhancing operations and enriching the experience for over 18 million students.

Ellucian provides student information systems (SIS), finance and HR, recruiting, retention, analytics and advancement software solutions. With more than 1,400 institutions subscribing to Ellucian’s cloud services and SaaS offerings, the company is one of the largest providers of cloud-based solutions in higher education. Ellucian also supports the higher education community with a range of professional services such as application software implementation, training, education, and management consulting. Ellucian brings power, passion, and performance to bear for higher education, and its ability to better our world. Visit Ellucian at


Ali Robinson
Director, Public Relations


Ali Robinson
Director, Public Relations