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How to offer students flexible schedules

University Business, March 2016
Survey said: Students at Volunteer State Community College had their scheduling dreams come true when officials changed Monday/Wednesday/Friday courses to Monday/Wednesday, allowing for a four-day week. A survey had been executed to determine why Tuesday/Thursday sessions were filling much more quickly than sessions that met the other three days.
Survey said: Students at Volunteer State Community College had their scheduling dreams come true when officials changed Monday/Wednesday/Friday courses to Monday/Wednesday, allowing for a four-day week. A survey had been executed to determine why Tuesday/Thursday sessions were filling much more quickly than sessions that met the other three days.

Course scheduling technology providers were asked: What are the biggest hurdles colleges face when trying to implement the scheduling options that students may want?

“Most institutions add new programs and course offerings at a much higher rate than they remove them. This leads to many programs and courses lacking the enrollment required to make them financially sustainable. Different modalities—hybrid, online, accelerated, etc.—can be attractive to certain students, but they add significant complexity to resource scheduling.”

Tom Shaver, founder & CEO, Ad Astra Information Systems, LLC

“Graduation delays have huge impacts on student debt, as well as negatively affect state and federal economies. But predicting course demand can be a huge hurdle for institutions looking to offer the perfect schedule for their students. Collecting information from students on what they plan to take is critical for offering the correct amount of seats and sections. Government funding for institutions can also be tied to how efficiently classrooms on campus are utilized, so planning optimal classroom times is important, but often proves challenging.”

Robert Strazzarino, founder/CEO, College Scheduler LLC

“With a focus on student success, schools are demanding new methods of analysis to make sure courses are offered when students need them in order to remain on track. Academic planning tools are developing more features to help schools gain greater insight into students’ needs. The days of rolling schedules forward solely based on history are behind us, but one of the biggest hurdles schools face is changing the old mentality and business processes of continuing to offer courses when and how they’ve always been offered.”

Mindy Aufderheide, vice president, business development, CollegeSource, Inc.

“The biggest hurdle to successful implementation of a student-driven scheduling system is concern by the faculty that their needs will not be met. Changing to a more advanced scheduling system implied a loss of power and influence for the faculty. The result was that they resisted the change. Our most successful clients are those with strong administrators who understand the need to consider multiple objectives when scheduling classes and the need for a computerized decision-support system to tackle the problem.”

Charles W. Smith, president, Comquip Inc.

“Schedulers have to serve the interest of various stakeholders on campus. Schools within a university system, individual departments and certainly instructors all weigh in on scheduling decisions, and usually have a significant impact on scheduling policy. There’s a pervasive sense of perceived ownership among these stakeholders. [But] the institution—not the individual departments—has a proprietary oversight of its space and resources. When it comes to prioritizing students’ needs, the tools are only as effective as the scheduling policy allows them to be.”

Julia Noonan, vice president of sales, CollegeNET Inc.

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