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Ad Astra Blog

Real-Time Response to Enrollment Fluctuations

by Ad Astra

Recruitment and retention outcomes are top of mind for institutions among many other competing priorities, especially given the current realities of remote and distance learning. In a previous blog post, we provided some considerations for summer and fall 2020 planning to help institutions be strategic about their course schedule and use of space. However, we know that despite best efforts to plan, there are going to be unforeseen changes in enrollment. Responding in real time to those changes is going to be as important as ever to support student success and remain fiscally responsible. To respond effectively and efficiently, monitoring registration and refining the course schedule are paramount. Below, we provide some answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive on this topic. 

Who should be monitoring registration?
Academic deans, department chairs, advisors, and registrar’s office often monitor registration. A best practices model is to have a strategic scheduling team made up of various stakeholders to review and analyze enrollment behavior in order to take meaningful action.  

How often should I monitor registration?
Registration should be monitored weekly or more frequently during peak periods of enrollment, such as during orientations or block registration periods. It is also essential that individuals monitoring registration activity intervene quickly to make schedule adjustments if needed.   

What should I be looking for when monitoring registration?
Key stakeholders watch course fill rates, as well as under-enrolled and over-enrolled courses. Making schedule adjustments in a timely manner is essential to meeting student demand.

What do I do once I find an under-enrolled or over-enrolled course?
There are several factors to consider, such as the time of semester, anticipated future enrollment in the course, institutional guidelines about under-enrolled courses, the course’s role in the curriculum, impact on instructor load, and most importantly, impact on the student(s) and their ability to find a replacement if canceled. When deciding to add sections late in the term, stakeholders must consider whether students will have ample opportunity to register or be notified about the new course option. Collaboration among stakeholders is essential to make the best data-informed decision that prioritizes student success.

Why is monitoring registration important?
The course schedule is essential for an institution to realize its mission, and students need to be able to register for the courses they need in order to graduate on time. We monitor registration under normal circumstances to ensure that the institution is providing a student-centered schedule while being fiscally responsible. However, under the current circumstances, monitoring registration is even more important because any historical patterns of registration behavior and the courses students need may change. Institutions will need to adjust the course schedule quickly to respond to student and institutional needs.

How can I monitor registration?
Ad Astra has an app designed specifically for this purpose. If you are interested, you can watch a demo here. Stakeholders should check with the registrar’s office or the institutional research department to determine if there are existing data reports or mechanisms in place to monitor course enrollment at regular intervals to have something to use and get started immediately.

We want to hear from you!
Share your expertise in the comment section below. 

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