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Ad Astra Blog

Monitor: A Vice President's Perspective

by Brian Messer, Ph.D.
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As a Vice President/Dean, I never truly knew which specific courses would fill up quickly and which ones would end up in the dreaded course cancellation category.  

As the start of the term drew closer, enrollment and class size projections became more critical. I intuitively knew, as did other leaders on campus, that some programs were up in enrollment while others were down compared to prior year. However, I had no idea how these enrollment changes were impacting the course fill rates for the upcoming term. I also knew that some sections were filling quickly while others were slow to fill. However, we consistently fooled or convinced ourselves that the lack of registrations were not a problem.  

“Students in these programs always register late,” we would tell ourselves. “I know we have a lot of students who need these courses and intend to register” we would say as murmurs of course cancellations began to occur. As each week passed, the term enrollments began to take shape and it became clear that certain programs were down while others were up.  Our response to this new reality was to waitlist the overfilled courses and cancel the underfilled courses. 

All too often, this knee-jerk reaction of waitlisting and cancelling courses occurs and is perceived as an effective way of managing the course scheduling process. The issue is that this approach is not solving the problem but rather solving only a symptom of the problem. The goal should be to capture student demand much earlier in the process so that staff, faculty, and students have adequate time to prepare and make adjustmentsMonitor does precisely that. 

Having a tool like Monitor to manage and assess the course fill rates would have provided me with the data I needed to make better decisions early in the registration period. Monitor allows academic leaders to quickly view when additional sections are needed and when proactive advising tactics could be used to avoid putting students and faculty in a last-minute course cancellation scrambleHaving this data throughout the registration period allows leaders to have answers to the following questions:  

  • Where do I need to add/remove sections based on fill rates 
  • Where am I feeling the most strain to find qualified faculty members?  
  • What programs have the highest/lowest enrollment ratios?  

Monitor is a simple tool that allows academic leaders to dramatically improve the registration process for students and advisors. Furthermore, Monitor lays the foundation to see just how much data could improve the course scheduling process on campus.  

Student Success Course Schedule Monitor Enrollment Monitoring

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