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How to Create a Thriving Campus Culture in 2023

What are our priorities as Higher Ed professionals?

Of course, we all care about hitting our enrollment goals, strengthening our school’s brand, maintaining profitability, and things like that. At the heart of it all, though, is striving to deliver incredible student experiences.

One of the most impactful ways to do that is to create a strong campus culture. Contrary to what might seem trendy, this doesn’t have to mean going over the top with innovation, TikTok, or expensive student enrollment tactics. It’s not always about adding value, rather it can be more helpful to focus on taking away friction.

Sometimes, simpler is better.

If you’re passionate about improving your campus culture, this is where you should start. Oftentimes, so much effort and attention get focused on enrollment, admissions, and welcoming incoming students that current students get overlooked.

Here are some ideas for creating a thriving campus culture.

Academic Advisor's Handbook for Disengaged Students

Give Students a Platform to Create their Own Experiences

It’s imperative that students have the opportunity to be leaders on campus. Give them a platform to share feedback and play a role in creating their own experiences. 

You’ve probably already got student events, interest groups, and clubs—and those are all important—but they’re not enough.

If you haven’t yet, consider creating leadership committees and giving your students representation to help with on-campus decision-making. Not only will you be empowering them and improving their experiences, but you’ll also be blown away by their passion and creativity! 

Student leaders on campus having a meeting

Accommodate Your Students’ Needs

What do we mean by this, exactly?

As you know, every student is different and has unique needs. A huge part of creating a thriving campus culture is to recognize those needs and make sure that each student feels that their needs are being met.

For example, you may still have students who are attending class virtually or in a hybrid fashion. You definitely want to make sure that you’re accommodating them with the flexibility they need to feel safe and be successful.

Go above and beyond to ensure that students who are attending class virtually or living off-campus still feel just as valued and get to experience the same thriving culture as those on campus.

Build a Strong Student Advising Strategy

This is an area in which a lot of schools fall short.

Though this may have once been true, it’s really not enough for academic advisors to meet once per term with their students and plan their classes. Today’s students want to be guided through this process and build relationships with their advisors on a more frequent basis for maximum college student engagement.

Academic advisors should be trusted, valued resources that communicate with their students regularly, not just at the beginning of each term.

Again, it’s also important to personalize this process since each student is different and has different needs. Some may not want to meet more than once, and that’s okay. But it should be the student's needs being prioritized, not the advisor’s.

Leverage Multichannel Communication

Speaking of each student having different preferences, we know that everyone has different channels of communication that they prefer. That’s why you should be leveraging a solid multichannel communication strategy.

To jumpstart your approach, we’ve put together this guide: 21 Multi-Channel Communication Templates for Student Engagement.

Inside, you’ll find best practice multichannel communication templates specifically designed to increase student engagement and deliver amazing results.

21 templates for student engagement

Teach Life Skills

More than ever before, students today know the importance of understanding personal finance, applying for jobs, interviewing, and other key life skills.

Are these being taught at your school?

The better that you prepare your students for the real world, the more positively they’ll look back on their time at school. 

So, it’s a good idea to offer courses, events, and learning opportunities on your campus for students to learn these important life skills, network with each other, ask questions, and start preparing for life after graduation.

Set Your Staff and Faculty Up for Success

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of creating a strong campus culture by taking care of your students…but what about faculty management?

Supporting your faculty (and staff!) is super important to creating a thriving culture on campus, and when they’re happy, that’ll trickle down to your students’ experiences as well.

Here’s one of our favorite examples: class scheduling. It’s the responsibility of the registrar’s office to schedule classes in a way that sets both students and faculty up for success. Classes shouldn’t be too full (bad experience) or too empty (not profitable), and they can be set up in a way that avoids the headaches of last-minute cancellations.

When you avoid faculty burnout, everyone benefits. Read more about that in our blog post, The Importance of Faculty Management: Class Scheduling Tips to Maximize the Bottom Line.

Prioritizing Campus Culture

We presented a lot of topics in this blog. How do you determine where to start and what to prioritize?

In the end, it’s better to be an expert implementer than an expert innovator.

What we mean by this is that you should focus on following through with your ideas and implementing some of these tactics through to the end. It can be fun to try new and exciting strategies, but don’t overlook the importance of getting the basic, tried-and-true things right first.

If you’re worried that your on-campus experience isn’t up to par, check out our blog post: 

Are You Providing a Stale Student Experience?
Here's How to Tell