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Transitioning to online education

“This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Those my age or older will recognize and understand this phrase, even though its meaning is likely lost on most of today’s students. Nonetheless, the times are changing rapidly and “your father’s Oldsmobile” is no longer functional in the modern era. Technology, and particularly the accelerated pace of our acceptance of a virtual world, has only been fast-tracked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Video meetings and online classes have become commonplace in 2020 in higher education and elsewhere.

In addition to the massive transition to online platforms, Davis & Elkins College, and institutions like us, are paying careful attention to the demands of communicating with the generation of students now matriculating from high schools into college. These students, born between 1997-2010, are known as Generation Z. “Gen Z” is the youngest, most ethnically-diverse, and largest generation in American history, comprising 27% of the U.S. population. Gen Zers are different from older generations because they are the first generation to have grown up wholly in the digital era. They’re tech savvy and mobile-first — and they have high standards for how they spend their time online.

The entryway to a college in 2020 is not on a paved road, but rather it is on the internet. A college’s website is an early stop for any member of Generation Z when searching for their eventual alma mater. On Oct.1 of this year, Davis & Elkins College unveiled our first major redesign of our website since 2012 … an eternity in higher education and more than 40% of the life of many of our prospective students. Our new site is designed for the specific audience of future D&E Senators who have grown up in the digital era.

Made possible by a very generous gift from friends of D&E, Doug and Gay Lane, this eight-month redesign has been a welcome addition. It is a new and refreshing expression of Davis & Elkins College “Leading the Way” to the external world. The trends of design that most influence Generation Z were front and center. Knowing that a large percentage of users will scroll on mobile devices, the site was built with a “mobile-first” design. While on the site, ease of use for every visitor was foremost from the navigation to the calls to action. Where the former site was static, that is now replaced with movement that is important when communicating with Gen Z. Visually appealing and consistent with current branding, the site is fresh, crisp, clean, and ADA compliant. I encourage you to check it out for yourself at www.dewv.edu.

In the ever-increasing competitive world of student recruitment in higher education, institutions like Davis & Elkins need to effectively utilize all the tools at our disposal. “Your father’s Oldsmobile” might have accomplished the task in years gone by, but Gen Z requires fresh and relevant communication to introduce and attract them to this unique and exceptional College in the mountains of Randolph County. Our commitment is to do whatever is necessary and effective to get students to fall in love with D&E. The payoff for them, and all of us, is a collegiate career that molds and transforms lives.

The journey continues….

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