The One Role on Campus with the Biggest Course Sharing Impact: Part II
Spotlight On: Institutional Growth
In a previous post, we explored why registrars are considered the secret superheroes of the course sharing process, with specific attention to how they help students stay on track.
As a follow-up, we’re shifting our focus to the ways registrars drive growth and innovation on campus at the institutional level. How do registrars leverage partner courses to retain students and recapture revenue that would otherwise be lost? How do they create trust on campus that allows course sharing to expand and evolve?
Evolving in Response to Pressing Needs
Institutions may start course sharing with one goal in mind, but later on, discover how many opportunities it unlocks. Bryan Boatright, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and University Registrar at the University of Mount Union, describes that by monitoring the needs of students, he helped course sharing evolve from a way to fill gaps in the summer term to a critical solution.
“We’re a four-year liberal arts campus—and students scatter [to community colleges] during the summer. We asked, how do we capture some of that so those students can take those classes at Mount Union? [Course sharing] became part of our summer offering—but it turned into a way to help students who were struggling…athletes who needed classes over the summer to increase their GPA and credit count…or students who were facing suspension or probation. It gave them the summer to make up what they had lost.”
Listen to a short audio clip to hear how Bryan used course sharing to retain five students who avoided suspension.
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Leading the Way with Faculty Support
A consistent theme we heard in our interviews was how registrars are leading the way at their institutions by establishing a clear, transparent approval process for partner courses. Because courses are provided by like-minded institutions, within their existing network, registrars can begin the process with a level of confidence, said Megan Hicks of Cornell College. With faculty, registrars work to vet courses using syllabi and faculty credentials (supplied by Acadeum), focusing on the courses that student need most (e.g. popular courses for transfer, frequently waitlisted courses, etc).
President Jonathan Brand of Cornell College said, of the college registrar office: “It’s easy to see how they advise and guide students, but they also do a lot of advising of faculty. How many people do you know [on campus] who have influence and expertise to advise, not just students, but faculty? They’re a bridge between groups.”
“The faculty have a true part in the process,” said Leigh-Ann Gomes at Springfield College, who works closely with the registrar's office in her role as Director of Academic Advising. “Faculty needed to be included from the start. My communication with the faculty, teaching and learning about [course sharing], and including them in the process was really important.”
“Our faculty are comfortable knowing that I will take a first pass at finding a course before I send the course description and/or syllabus to the department chair for their review, if the course is a major course,” said Tricia Hartshorn, Registrar at McPherson College. “While I have authority to approve general education courses, I have reached out to our faculty several times, which most likely helped strengthen their comfort level in our process.”
Watch a video from Springfield College’s Leigh-Ann Gomes on the process she implemented with her campus registrar to get course sharing off the ground.
Alternative Revenue Streams
While many of the registrars we spoke to emphasized that helping students graduate on time is their primary focus, they also mentioned how the college looks to them to find ways to recapture revenue that’s lost when a student takes a transfer course off-campus. “We pulled reports to see how many transfer courses came in each semester,” Megan Hicks explained. “If we translated those credits into courses through the Acadeum network, we would have been generating revenue—at an average of $650 per course. We used this information to build a case and put more staff time into implementing and maintaining the course sharing process.”
“The second summer we used Acadeum, we doubled our numbers,” said Boatright. "It was an unexpected revenue stream for us… A six-figure record revenue stream.”
President Arvid C. Johnson PhD, at the University of St. Francis, praised the work his team has done to save revenue: “Along with improving course quality and simplifying the student experience, course sharing has brought back over $50,000 in revenue to the institution every summer. This is revenue that can be reinvested on campus to support a variety of initiatives, from supporting new programs to funding faculty projects.”
New to Course Sharing? Here’s Some Advice from the Experts
For registrars interested in operational growth and bringing back revenue through course sharing, our registrar experts suggest these steps to get started:
- Align your institutional strategies to course sharing solutions. Consider your school’s current priorities—are you committed to increasing retention? Expanding offerings to drive new enrollments? Check out our course sharing guide to pinpoint where course sharing can help—or, talk to our team to create customized strategies.
- Do the math. Take a page out of Megan Hicks’s book: pull reports to see where you can make the greatest impact. For example, which courses are students taking as transfer credits elsewhere? How much revenue would be saved if students took those courses on campus? Can you open seats in under-enrolled courses and offer them to partner schools on the Acadeum network?
- Make your case. Registrars are an influential, trusted voice. Help faculty understand the benefits of course sharing—how it works and what problems it solves. Communicate your plans clearly, and illustrate how course sharing can make an immediate, meaningful impact (e.g. by driving enrollment in their classes).
At Acadeum, we’re thrilled to see more partners collaborating every day, with campus leaders continuing to find new ways to innovate through course sharing. As Robert Mitchell, Jr., Registrar at Dillard University says, “I'm excited to see what the future holds for us.”
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