The One Role on Campus with the Biggest Course Sharing Impact: Part I
Spotlight On: Student Progress
Access to courses from like-minded partner schools can have a transformative effect at an institution. At Acadeum, our team likes nothing better than hearing success stories from the 380+ schools in our network. Even one course—delivered to a student in need—can change the trajectory of that student’s journey to graduation.
There’s one role on campus that has an immeasurable impact on shaping these stories, transforming hard problems into indisputable wins: the registrar. We spoke to representatives from six different institutions to shed light on the registrar’s leadership behind the scenes.
Secret Superheroes of Course Sharing
While everyone on campus is invested in student success, the university or college registrar takes a uniquely hands-on approach to monitoring progress and completion.
“Registrars operate at the nexus of student affairs and academic affairs,” said University of St. Francis President Arvid C. Johnson, PhD. “They’re uniquely positioned to positively or negatively impact the quality of our academic programs, our accreditation, but also the student experience."
“The registrar is like the catcher in baseball,” said President Jonathan Brand of Cornell College. “They’re one of the only players who can see the entire field.”
The registrars we interviewed are natural problem solvers, constantly troubleshooting to eliminate barriers when challenges arise: What happens when a student doesn’t perform well in a once-a-year course that’s required for their major? When a course has a lengthy waitlist? What happens when a student is only a few credits short from graduating? “Registrars keep problems from getting bigger,” said Brand. Recently, registrars have turned to course sharing to find creative solutions to the hard problems that come across their desk.
Mapping Problems to Solutions
Robert Mitchell, Jr., University Registrar at Dillard University, describes his records and registration office as a “one-stop shop” for course sharing. Robert approves courses from partner institutions that Dillard wants to offer students, matches students to the right course for their needs, and tracks their grades.
Watch a short video on how Robert helped an out-of-state student graduate on time, using courses on the Acadeum network:
“We all know this [problem-solving] takes place at the individual student level,” said President Johnson. “Let’s say a student needs a course to graduate on time, but it’s not being offered. The registrar sees if he can take it somewhere else and finds a partner course that’s already been approved by our faculty. The president never hears about that. The president only hears when the student doesn’t graduate.”
Megan Hicks is the registrar at Cornell College in Iowa, a small liberal arts school that prides itself on the individual, one-on-one attention students receive. She found that course sharing was a natural fit with Cornell’s student-centric mission and has leveraged partner courses to support student progress in a variety of ways—from helping struggling students boost their GPA, to ensuring students meet Cornell’s requirements for continuous enrollment (unlike transfer credit, courses taken through the Acadeum network are transcribed at the institution where the student is receiving a degree.)
“I do degree audits with every senior,” said Hicks. “We individually look at each student and talk with them if they still have a requirement to fulfill. One very good student, a double major, realized he was missing one of his humanities requirements. He was shocked. Here he is with a semester left of school - and he couldn’t change any of his spring courses. We found a course on Acadeum's network that started three weeks after this conversation. He registered and took it without having to change anything in his schedule--and he graduated on time.”
Tricia Hartshorn, Registrar at McPherson College has also used course sharing when students hit roadblocks in their educational journey: “Recently, I’ve helped a couple of students who plan to go to nursing school after McPherson College. We have set them up for success by making sure they are getting in a missing pre-requisite they need before they apply to their nursing program.”
Bryan Boatright, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and University Registrar at the University of Mount Union, echoed the sentiment that course sharing has delivered great results for their students: “In both summers that we've had Acadeum, we've been able to save five to ten students [from suspension] every single time.”
New to Course Sharing? Here’s Some Advice from the Experts
For schools considering how course sharing can make the biggest impact, our registrar experts suggest listening for these common student problems:
- Do students take courses elsewhere, in the summer and winter terms, to get ahead or retake a class?
- Does a student need a course that your institution only offers once a year?
- Is a student waitlisted for a full, popular course?
- Are students at risk of dismissal due to poor performance? Are they looking for ways to regain good academic standing?
- Are you unable to find a suitable instructor for a course that is needed at your institution?
Once a registrar recognizes that a course from a like-minded partner in Acadeum’s network can address a student’s challenge, it’s a matter of a few clicks and the student is registered. “The Acadeum team has continued to deliver spot-on service to our registrar’s office and to our students,” said Tricia Hartshorn. “Acadeum truly wants students to be successful with course sharing, and it shows.”
Read the next in our two-part series on campus registrars: “Driving Institutional Growth and Innovation Through Course Sharing”