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Defining Smart Scheduling: A Collaborative Evolution

June 2024
Student Success
Sarah Collins, President, Ad Astra

Perhaps you’re one of the many who might be wondering what makes a scheduling process SMART? The acronym SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) has been adopted by many industries.

At Ad Astra, the straightforward and efficient nature of Smart Scheduling transcends the mere arrangement of class times and dates over a set period of time. Rather, it represents the possibility for students and institutions alike to shift the paradigm of scheduling toward a process that’s repeatable, data-driven, and student centric.

Data-driven Approach

Using Ad Astra’s tools and data-driven platform, institutions can leverage advanced algorithms, predictive analytics, and institutional insights to optimize course offerings and maximize resource utilization to enhance the overall student experience. It is also an important tool in helping students progress toward completion in a timely manner, which in turn benefits retention and performance-based metrics for colleges and universities.

As our partner Complete College America has previously observed, time is the enemy of college completion. The slow and uneven progress of the college completion front over the past 12 years and the far-reaching ripples of the pandemic have further highlighted why higher education institutions must be a partner in retaining and graduating students. A successful scheduling initiative will close outcome gaps while remaining respectful and purposeful toward a students’ time, availability, and the need for predictability. (CCA)

Create and Optimize

Smart Scheduling replaces the mere arrangement of class times and dates to become a data-driven and student-centric approach to academic planning. The outcomes-based process leverages advanced algorithms, predictive analytics, and insights to optimize course offerings and maximize resource utilization to help students meet the necessary benchmarks toward a certification, license, or degree that will lead them closer to the attainment of a credential of value, successful transfer to a four-year university, if desired, and increased eligibility for a viable career path and a living wage.

More importantly, it’s a process that cannot happen in a vacuum. Smart Scheduling processes thrive in collaborative environments where change-makers throughout an institution build a culture that’s in alignment with its mission and goals and the needs of the students it serves. The process brings together the ideas of faculty, academic departments, administrative units, and technology partners to create actionable schedules that prioritize student and faculty needs and meet institutional priorities.

A Transformative Solution

    1. 1. Time and Resource Optimization: Smart Scheduling enables institutions to make the most efficient use of their resources. This includes the intelligent allocation of classrooms, faculty resources, and student course loads. Time and resource optimization not only reduces costs but also enhances operational efficiency, allowing colleges and universities to focus their efforts on the delivery of high-quality education.

    1. 2. Student Progress and Retention: Schedules offering courses at optimal times will also balance course loads and minimize scheduling conflicts, so institutions can support student progress and persistence rates. Students have access to the courses they need, when they need them, leading to Degree Velocity®, higher retention, and improved graduation outcomes and rates of completion.

    1. 3. Institutional Effectiveness: By aligning scheduling decisions with strategic priorities, such as degree completion initiatives or enrollment management goals, institutions can enhance their overall effectiveness and competitiveness through an institution-wide Smart Scheduling initiative.

Shaping the Future

Smart Scheduling represents a pivotal opportunity for institutions of all sizes to harness the power of technology and data to transform their academic operations and better serve their students. By saving time and streamlining scheduling processes, institutions can move the needle on learner outcomes and institutional effectiveness. Now is the time for higher education to embrace the future of Smart Scheduling and unlock new opportunities for success.



Sarah Collins
President, Ad Astra

Sarah began her career in education and transitioned to Ad Astra in 1999. After serving in various leadership roles throughout her tenure at Ad Astra, Sarah now leads the formation of strategic and state partnerships as well as innovative demonstration projects to expand our ecosystem of solutions. She strives to bring next generation solutions to institutional leaders that improve completion outcomes and academic financial sustainability in today’s changing climate. Sarah is a proud Kansas State University Wildcat.

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