Five Ways Higher Ed Is Using AI To Improve the Student Experience


Student using AI in schoolwork

The headlines may be shouting that artificial intelligence (AI) is coming for our jobs and students around the country are cheating by using it to write their essays and papers. That may or may not be true. The reality is that colleges and universities have found many innovative ways to use the technology to engage with potential and current students, streamline processes, and provide an improved experience for students, faculty, and staff.

A recent survey by the higher-ed technology company Anthology revealed that while college and university leaders have concerns about AI, 45% said their use of AI tools will increase in the next six months. They also have a vision for the ways that AI could positively impact higher-ed operations, with nearly 30% saying they think AI can assist with brainstorming and 22% seeing the value of using AI to draft assessment questions aligned with learning outcomes. Nearly 20% of higher-ed leaders believe AI can support enrollment or admission campaigns.1

While many of us think AI is the new big thing, it’s actual invention dates back to Dartmouth College in 1956.2 However, the excitement surrounding last year’s launch of ChatGPT has brought its use to the forefront, particularly in education. Here are five ways that U.S. colleges and universities are currently using AI:

  1. Admissions: According to a survey by Intelligent, half of admissions departments currently use AI in some way and 82% predict they will use it by 2024. It is most commonly used to review letters of recommendation and transcripts and to communicate with applicants. The majority of these schools say that they will allow AI to have the final say on applications, though two out of three admissions professionals voiced ethical concerns.3
  2. Food delivery: More than three years before ChatGPT burst on the scene, colleges were using autonomous robots to deliver food to students on campus. Using an app, students pick food and drink items from campus eateries, drop a pin for their location, and watch the robot travel to their location.
  3. Financial aid: With the upcoming releases in the updated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the increasingly complex financial aid environment, schools are turning to AI to answer student and parent questions about the process.
  4. Student engagement: With declining enrollments and increasing recruitment costs, colleges and universities are using AI to attract and engage students. Through hyper-personalization, AI can personalize the recruitment experience. Perhaps a potential applicant has volunteered in an animal shelter throughout high school and has shown an interest in studying to be a veterinarian. AI can produce outreach content, targeting those interests—perhaps highlighting the school’s pre-veterinary program or other related campus clubs and activities. AI can then customize engagement throughout the process, with chatbots offering personalized admissions conversations and providing quick answers to student and parent questions.
  5. Student retention: AI can issue an early alert when a student seems to be struggling and is on the brink of being at risk. AI can even develop personalized interventions to get students back on track. This gives advisors the information they need to intervene, helping them to juggle what is often a significant number of advisees. This ultimately has the potential to raise student persistence.

Of course, leveraging AI to improve the student experience isn’t the only exciting thing happening in the higher-education market. The nearly 6,000 U.S. colleges and universities are constantly finding innovative ways to attract, retain, and provide an educational experience to put more than 15 million undergraduate students on the path to lifelong success. And they are making deep investments in the services they provide, spending $702 billion annually.

Want to learn more about how you can reach the higher-ed market and its 1.2 million personnel? MDR’s free higher ed catalog can provide you with the information you need to develop successful higher-ed campaigns. Download it today!

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Want to learn more about how you can reach the higher-ed market and its 1.2 million personnel?

MDR’s free college catalog can provide you with the information you need to develop successful higher-ed campaigns.