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Inside the Scarlet Hawk Journey: Illinois Tech’s Commitment to Student Success

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Jessica Fischer

Digital Marketing Specialist

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Solutions Used

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Description

Illinois Institute of Technology wanted to improve engagement from the ground up, knowing that student satisfaction begins on day one of the student experience.

So when the team needed a customizable, user-friendly platform that not only made life easier for students and administration alike but brought their vision for student organizations to life, they chose Suitable.

By incentivizing engagement and utilizing Suitable's customizable, mobile-first platform, the Illinois Tech team has been breaking down siloes on campus and setting their students up for success in college and beyond.

About the School

Illinois Institute of Technology is a private, research-based university located in Chicago, IL. Illinois Tech was founded in 1890 and the current name was adopted when the Armour Institute and Lewis Institute merged in 1940.

Illinois Tech has approximately 3,100 undergraduate students, boasts an impressive 86% retention rate and operates with a 10:1 faculty to student ratio.

 

 

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Illinois Institute of Technology as:

  • #122 in National Universities
  • #148 in Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #42 in Best Value Schools
  • #82 in Top Performers on Social Mobility 
  • #86 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs

Challenges before Suitable

The administration at Illinois Tech was looking for a platform that could act as a hub for student org management and that their students would actually engage with. Add on a goal of increasing student satisfaction, and the team knew that in order to get students on board, they needed to start on day one of the student journey.

The problem? Satisfaction was low with the last couple of vendors that Illinois Tech tried and the platforms were slow and not mobile or user-friendly. Plus, the administration had a hard time working with the other platforms due to limited customer service and support.

This created the perfect storm. A low-adoption rate with administration and low engagement rates among students. Assessment data was hard to access and there were little/no gamification features to incentivize engagement.

At the same time, leadership was looking for a way to break down silos between four different departments that have remained separate but needed to be united:

  • The Pre-College Program 
  • The Office of Campus Life (OCL)
  • The Office of Residence Life (ORL)
  • Career Services 

By de-siloing departments, improving the user experience and centralizing student orgs, the team at Illinois Tech knew they could boost engagement and cultivate a more inclusive culture on campus with the right partner.

In order to meet the latest accreditation requirements with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), IIT also needed a better way to track and assess co-curricular involvement. The team needed enhanced reporting on quantitative and qualitative (i.e. – ePortfolio/reflection) data that accurately reflects student engagement and co-curricular activity.

With the challenges piling up, Thy Nguyen pitched a one-stop solution: Suitable.

 

Life with Suitable

Suitable's mobile-first technology was easy to adopt and user-friendly, allowing the Illinois Tech team to put student engagement exactly where students’ would actually use it - on their phones.

The user-friendly nature of the platform doesn’t stop with students. The administration found the software easy to use and adopt, plus with a University Success partner accessible and ready to help with any challenges, the customer service stood out compared to previous vendors.

When it came time to launch The Scarlet Hawk Journey on Suitable, the adoption process was smooth, even on a short 3-month timeline. There was excellent communication between the Suitable team and the Office of Technology Services.

Personalization features allow the platform to look like an extension of the Illinois Tech website that students are most familiar with:

  • Black and red branding
  • Use of the IIT mascot, Talon
  • Plus, personalized Digital Badges and imagery 

The Scarlet Hawk Journey launched during Welcome Week in August 2021 and was integrated immediately into the First-Year Experience at Illinois Tech. The team got all new students to log on and introduced them to the app from day one.

The Scarlet Hawk Journey is boosting student engagement through interactive Leaderboards and by rewarding participation with incentives like hoodies, TVs and Amazon Alexas.

Student Orgs are using the tool to get their organizations and events in front of more of their peers. With an extensive student organization list, Illinois Tech was first in line to test Suitable’s new Student Org Management feature.


The Scarlet Hawk Journey unites different programs and encourages co-curricular learning.

The Illinois Tech team is using the platform to collect data, analyze it and share it with staff and student leaders alike.

Student feedback is overwhelmingly positive, events are easier to track and manage, and the Illinois Tech administrative team has a platform that can handle their robust student organization needs.

ASK THE ADMINISTRATOR

"We needed a Student Org Management feature. It made all the difference to us that Suitable said "Yep. You need it? We'll make it happen and work with you on that."

Rachel Hirsh, MA
Senior Director of Campus Life and Student Engagement, Illinois Institute of Technology

Here's an overview of what's happening at Illinois Tech

  • Nearly doubled engagement within less than a year
  • Over 3,000 activities completed within 9 months
  • 1 out of 3 students already engaged
  • Campus Life, Career Services, Residence Life and the RHA are looking to put all events into Suitable to create a central hub for students
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Additional Outcomes Achieved

Not only has engagement nearly doubled, but the administration has greater visibility into what drives their students to engage. They can easily access all the data to analyze, report and make decisions.

Suitable is helping the Scarlet Hawk team increase student satisfaction and creating an easy-t-navigate hub for student organizations on the IIT campus.

 

Plans for the Future

When it comes to future goals go, Illinois Tech's team is working with each department on campus to get them on the platform. They have a short-term goal of diversifying their competencies and integrating the Suitable platform with their ELEVATE site.

Another priority for the team is onboarding pre-college students who matriculate through Suitable, so they begin their time at IIT with a badge.

Thy and Rachel also hope to work with the Suitable team to track fund accounts and develop a budgeting tool that integrates with Banner. 

In addition, the team is aiming for a 50% engagement rate next year (2022-2023), and a 70% engagement rate the following academic year. Thy and Rachel are currently working on a Career Initiatives badge, as well as badges that correspond with the 4-year framework of holistic student development below:

  1. Autonomous identity and self-development.
  2. Career initiatives and professionalism.
  3. Leadership and innovation. 
  4. Leaving a legacy.

The overarching goal for The Scarlet Hawk Journey is simple: improve the student journey while helping students build a co-curricular that builds their resumes and professional profiles. Suitable is helping streamline the process and supporting students and staff alike.