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East Stroudsburg University

    “Platinum Analytics™ is helping to change our culture and perspectives on scheduling. Student credit hours
    are up by five percent, which graduates our students at a faster rate. Now we have another good measure
    to tell us how we’re doing, and more importantly, how our students are doing.”
    - ERICA BRILLHART, Assistant to the Vice President for Enrollment Management

    Student Needs and Course Offerings Align to Increase Student Credit Hours and Boost Tuition Revenue

    East Stroudsburg University (ESU) in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania had a schedule that was too efficient (“overloaded,” in scheduling terms). This created course registration bottlenecks that slowed student progress to completion. Ad Astra helped ESU add course capacity, increase credit hours per student, and create the potential for additional tuition revenue for the University.
    High impact changes on campus start with key conversations. Bringing all the topics and stakeholders to the table to enact change requires skill, insight, and determination. Erica Brilhart, Assistant to the Vice President for Enrollment Management at ESU,  has seen class scheduling gridlock and its implications up close. She’s helping facilitate new conversations on the topic among faculty and administrators on the ESU campus.
    Scheduling gridlock, however, is becoming less of a concern at ESU. The gridlock has been replaced with more scheduling options for students, and more capacity and tuition opportunity for the university. Brilhart and her colleagues in enrollment management are sharing the insights and recommendations of Ad Astra’s Platinum Analytics™ to inform
    conversations about student success, and design annual schedules that drive graduation velocity.
    “High enrollment ratios and full classes are a good thing, but too much of a good thing can start to work against you, which is what we learned in our partnership with Ad Astra,” Brilhart said. “Platinum Analytics helped us see the big picture in terms of where we needed additional course capacity, and where we could reduce under-filled sections. Matching course offerings with student needs is our main goal, and the numbers indicate that we’re making great progress.”
    ESU opened its doors to 320 students on September 4, 1893. Today, the university serves 6,828 students annually, offers 56 undergraduate and 24 graduate degrees, and is one of the 14 institutions in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Scheduling at ESU has historically been decentralized. In the past, departments and deans summarized their preferences and provided them to the registrar, without the benefits of critical data to inform their scheduling decisions. 
    Now equipped with the business intelligence within Platinum Analytics’ dashboards and reports, the university is revamping its scheduling procedures. “Once we could provide clear and convincing evidence with Platinum Analytics that some of our courses were overloaded and not available to students who needed them, the conversation among deans and departments focused on how we could fix course shortages and improve access,” Brilhart said. “The metrics from Ad Astra were easy to grasp,and they gave us something to rally around as a group.”
    The university relied on Platinum Analytics’ predictive capabilities to analyze their fall and spring schedules, and to guide course offerings and estimate likely fill rates. Ad Astra mined enrollment “snapshots” from ESU’s student information system and fed the data into Platinum Analytics so that the university could adjust course capacity in the schedule and registration progressed.
    “Ad Astra’s real-time analysis of fill ratios down to the course and section levels allowed us to open more sections and accommodate more students immediately so they didn’t wait another semester for courses critical to their programs,” Brilhart said. The most critical bottlenecks were occurring in the sciences, where basic course requirements that serve many majors were in high demand year-round. “We knew we had capacity and access issues, but we weren’t sure where or to what extent,” Brilhart said. “The Platinum Analytics dashboards were critical in quantifying student needs and guiding us to possible solutions.”
    With new data-driven scheduling recommendations, ESU was able to add new sections for overloaded courses and reallocate current resources for improved student access. Today, student demand and course supply are better matched at ESU, and enrollment ratios overall are at a manageable 88 percent, rather than the overloaded 92 percent.
    Other highlights include:
    • Average student credit hours are up 5 percent (from 13.37 to 14.04 credits per student.)
    • Average graduation timelines have decreased by 5 percent (from 4.5 years to 4.3 years per student.)
    Ad Astra’s key scheduling metrics from peer institutions (The Higher Education Scheduling Index) have provided benchmarks and measurable goals that guide each schedule planning session. Personal preferences and intuition are still discussed, but real data carries the most weight. “Platinum Analytics is helping to change our culture and perspectives on scheduling,” Brilhart said. “Student credit hours are up by five percent, which graduates our students at a faster rate. Now we have another good measure to tell us how we’re doing, and more importantly, how our students are doing.”  
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