First Day® Complete Perspectives: SHSU Talks Long-Term Program Benefits
The third in a three-part series spotlighting Barnes & Noble College partner institutions that are preparing to or have implemented the First Day Complete equitable access program. The series covers what to consider, implementation, and maintenance of a successful program. Check out part one with Sonoma State University and part two with Coastal Carolina University.
As of the Spring 2023 semester, more than 115 campuses across the country have implemented First Day® Complete, Barnes & Noble College’s innovative equitable access program. Each one has unique insights to share that confirm how the highly customizable platform removes barriers to student success by improving course material access, affordability, and convenience.
Spring 2023 also marks seven semesters of First Day Complete at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). Dr. Kristy Vienne, formerly the AVP of Auxiliary Services at SHSU, and now the Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services at Lone Star College System, recently shared the benefits that have resonated with students and parents – and what surprised her about the response from parents. She also offered advice on keeping key audiences engaged through all stages of the program.
Positive Parent Feedback
“When we started this program, we thought explaining it to students and parents would be our biggest challenge. And that just has not been the case. Students love First Day Complete, and parents love it even more. It’s easy for them to understand, and it’s one more thing to take off their plate.
That was an ‘aha’ or a surprise moment for me because I really thought, ‘I’ve got to sell this to the parents. I’ve got to make sure they understand.’ But parents were coming up and saying, ‘Oh great, this is wonderful.’”
Access, Convenience, Affordability—and Customer Service
“People are looking for things that simplify their life. This program is easy, and it really takes away the lift. They also like that if a book happens to change – and we all know we don’t want that to happen, but it does happen – we will make it right. We will handle the customer service aspect and switch out the book. There’s no risk to the student.
“I’ve had parents and students come back in and say, ‘I saved $300 being in the program.’ However, we found people participate for a variety of reasons – like convenience and customer service. I also had a parent tell me, ‘I just have to be honest with you, I was going to opt out. I went online and spent four hours researching my kid’s books. I went to all the sites.’ And then she said, ‘I realized I might have saved $28 outside the program, which may or may not have included shipping, because shipping varied.’ She said, ‘You know what? Help me opt back into this program. It was not worth the $28 for the four hours that I spent researching all this.’”
“As you go through the program, every stage has its unique challenges. Communication needs to be constant. There’s a new group of students and faculty every semester. It requires dedicated communication plans and strategies that have to be on target and keyed up, ready to go.
When I first got into higher education, I felt like we had downtime. Now, I don’t know what downtime is anymore. And this program is no exception to that. It’s not necessarily a challenge, just something to be apprised and aware of. Stay ahead of the game and constantly make sure that you’re on top of communication, because the program is wonderful. It can be a lift, but it’s worth it for the campus in terms of the benefits to the students.”