Shippensburg University has dozens of online portals and online service access points that first-year students have to learn.
The number of portals is a bit excessive and confusing to students well-before they arrive at SU. The university should work toward greater system integration to the many systems as well as to provide greater technology training and a streamlined admissions and orientation checklist.
Before students even come to Shippensburg, they get to experience the fun of attempting to activate their email, starting their admissions portal list, logging in to the housing portal and submitting health information, nonetheless accessing the Central Authentication Service (CAS)/My Ship portal.
Even as someone who is fairly familiar with technology, the whole process was overwhelming for me, and I know it was for many others.
I made many calls to the technology desk about getting my email account to work, and I know others struggled to get their housing portal to work.
The biggest issue behind this portal dilemma is a complete lack of a uniform checklist for the entire admissions process. This ideal checklist would entail everything one must do before stepping foot on campus, including admissions, dining, housing, student accounts, financial aid, Etter Health Center, etc.
Many first-year students recall stress surrounding the whole application process and the lack of clarity on what needed to be done, when it was required and to whom it must be submitted.
One student even remarked at a listening session that they felt like they were “passed around from person to person, department to department, like a chew toy,” as they struggled to figure out what they needed to do to verify AP credit transfers.
Training for a few of these portals does exist once students arrive for orientation, but it is a small 15 minute session about email and Desire-to-Learn (D2L)/Brightspace. This training was recently expanded at the spring orientation as stated in minutes from the new student orientation committee.
Ideally, the university would work to integrate some of its systems to simplify processes for students, faculty and staff. This includes registration, the Event Management System (EMS) used for room reservation, Ship link, SHIP Career Connection and the My Ship Portal among many others.
This would require collaboration of many university departments but would ease the complexities of the process and decrease the stress and confusion of incoming students and families, as well as current students, faculty and staff.