The Secret Shoppers program helps colleges evaluate the student experience — including application, admissions, onboarding, advising, financial aid, navigating the system online, and physically navigating the campus — from a student’s perspective.

Through Secret Shoppers, individuals who are not actually students are paid to apply and enroll in colleges and then share information about their experiences.

The NC SSC developed its own Secret Shoppers program after looking into existing programs that were costly for colleges. Colleges decide which aspects of their programs they want their secret shopper to evaluate. They can choose from a menu of 10 types of evaluations other colleges have done — or they can customize an evaluation of their own.

The NC SSC offers this service at no charge to colleges that have participated in guided pathways implementation cohorts. And the colleges do not have to devote staff time to the effort. They have a phone call with the NC SSC to discuss what type of evaluation they want, and then one semester later, they receive a report with the findings.

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