Communicating with Students: Changing the Paradigm
Times have changed, and the paradigm for how we communicate with one another has changed with the times. Thirty years ago, there were only a few ways to communicate with other people: in person, by mail, by phone, and then eventually by FAX machine. Then came the invention of the Internet and cell phones, and now the ways we communicate with one another have expanded exponentially. The list now includes texting, messaging, online meetings, social media posts, posting on a webpage, and a host of other options. No longer does a company just depend on meeting in person or phone calls to conduct their business. People have come to recognize and appreciate the fact that these new communication tools allow people to meet across time and space in much more flexible ways.
In developing the ForwarDirections College and Career Network, we took these new modes of communication into consideration as we decided how best to communicate with our student clients. First, we considered the fact that there are two primary goals of communication: to effectively deliver information and to receive a response. Those both need to be accomplished in such a way that is well-suited for our target audience and allows for timeliness at both ends of the communication exchange. In addition, we understand that students have full lives, so using communication tools that would allow them to connect with us no matter how busy their daily schedules may be would be the most desirable. That is why texting, emails, phone calls, online meetings and online documents shared between coaches and clients are the main ways we interact with our students. Using these tools in constructive ways provides our students with real life experiences that are similar to how they will communicate with their learning communities in college and eventually with their business colleagues in the work world.
Texting is One Way We Communicate
As an example, texting has become the new medium for quick interchanges among teenagers and adults. Various studies of young people have indicated that they prefer texting to phone calls, and as many parents have discovered, we know most teens today respond more quickly to a text message than they do to answering or returning a phone call. Therefore, our coaches regularly check in with student by text to schedule a meeting and provide a reminder about a deadline. At the same time, students in the ForwarDirections network can touch base with the career coaches by text at most any hour of the day with their questions or concerns. Here are some recent texts from students:
“Do I need to take all of these AP tests?”
“Do you think this is a good scholarship for me to apply for?”
And a recent text from a parent:
“Is it important for me to file my income tax before completing the FAFSA?”
Online Meetings Occur Weekly
Another important communication tool used within the ForwarDirections network is the online meeting. Our meetings are held with individual students, as well as with groups of students, and are scheduled around students’ school and co-curricular schedules. These meetings provide a communication channel that is different but equally as engaging as in-person meetings. In fact, we actually consider our online meetings as “in person” meetings, because we meet face-to-face; we can see each other, which means that we can pick up on certain nuances and subtleties that only come from that type of interaction. Students and college coaches use these meetings to share strategies about college preparation. These meetings take on a particularly powerful dynamic when we have students meet in groups, where they are encouraged to their share ideas with one another. Again, these collaborations provide students with real-world experience so they know how to use communication tools like this to accomplish a task.
Overall, our use of a variety of technology tools makes communication between coaches and students both easy and efficient, and better communication improves the quality of the service we can provide. It also better prepares students for how they can effectively communicate during college and in their chosen career field. If you would like to know more, feel free to communicate with us today and learn more about we at ForwarDirections can help you.
View the recording below from one of our recent meetings that included college students talking about how to select the right college that illustrates one way we communicate with our students.