Peeling Bananas The Right Way

Like Peeling Bananas, FinAid Communications Needs a New Approach

Mark McGinnis  By Mark McGinnis

A blog post informed me this morning that I’ve been peeling bananas incorrectly my whole life—maybe you have been, too.

When peeling a banana, I always start with the stem, and almost always end up with a bruised or mushy top. But, according to today’s post, bananas are supposed to be peeled from the bottom. Doing so is more efficient and cost-effective: It eliminates bruising and minimizes the stringy things that peel off. (Fun fact: Those string-things are called phloem—pronounced FLOM.)

So, now you know.

How Is Peeling Bananas Like Working with Students?

Maybe some of us are still doing that wrong, too. Those of us who have been in financial aid for a while have been conditioned to communicate with students in a certain way—much like how we’re conditioned to peel bananas. That means many of us still send emails and still ask students to print out and return paper forms.

Ask your freshman students if they’ve ever used a fax machine. I bet 90% say ‘no.’ Now, ask those same students if they’ve ever posted on Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. You already know their answers. Just take a look around campus. No doubt, you’ll see students with their heads down—texting, talking, and scrolling—focused on their smartphones. Even when they’re with friends, they’re almost always on their devices. In fact, a Deloitte study found that Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 check their mobile devices at least 74 times per day.

Students Are Bananas for Their Smartphones

That’s 74 times per day that our students show us how they want to receive communications. They want messaging from the Financial Aid Office (and everyone else) to be accessible anywhere, any time they feel like checking emails and text messages. If mobile communications can improve FinAid completion rates and ensure the accuracy of documents returned, you reap the benefits of more engaged students and a more efficient staff.

Our students rely on us for financial aid guidance. We need to recondition ourselves to communicate with them where they are—via mobile.

Time to Rethink Your Approach: Bananas and Students

I was just as surprised as you to learn that most of us have been peeling bananas incorrectly. So, the next time you have a banana, try peeling it from the bottom. And the next time you want anyone under 24 to do something, text them. Both are effective approaches that many of us probably still need to learn.

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