Students also enroll in Handshake, a LinkedIn-like digital career-management platform that allows them to access part-time jobs, internships, co-ops and even volunteer gigs that align with their major and provide experiential learning. The tool allows the university to vet the opportunities and allows students to upload their resume and details.
Kasey Drennen, UC’s director of orientation, has been intimately involved in building Bearcat Promise from the ground up. He says one of the keys to making it successful is having earlier intentional conversations with students about their goals to help them craft their plan.
Drennen says pockets of UC have been exceptional at helping students design their future for years. He points to the successes of such areas as UC’s Honors program, Gen-1 and athletics at helping students build and stick to their academic plans.
“For some we do a great job of talking to students from the very beginning,” he says. “They know all the resources and opportunities. They can connect the dots whether inside the classroom or outside the classroom. Through technology, we can expand this concept to all students.”
He says the key is coordinating the tools where students interact with the institution, then using the vast amount of data collected to their benefit.
“Amazon knows what I want to buy before I do,” he says. “As we look at artificial intelligence and machine learning, we see a lot of possibilities. We are pretty good at descriptive data, and we are getting better at predictive data, but we are working toward prescriptive data.”
Drennen says a smarter system will free academic advisors to have more effective conversations with students — focus less on the nuts and bolts of what they are taking and more on important “why” questions to be sure they are striding toward their actual goals.