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Scheduling in the Off-Season –
Planning for an Annual Schedule

8 Minute Read

How Annual Scheduling Resembles Baseball
Who doesn’t like a good sports metaphor? When trying to have schedules available for students in time for advising and registration, it’s hard to be mindful of all the complexity at play. Similarly, it’s hard to fix a swing or utilize metrics to improve your roster during the baseball season. During the off-season, leaders and baseball managers can take a step back, analyze individual components, determine plans for improvement, and start executing in the off-season to prepare for winning results. When it comes to scheduling, the off-season planning can come in the form of planning for an annual schedule. 

What the Bases Look Like for an Annual Schedule
When discussing scheduling practices with institutions across the country, one of the first topics for consideration is the idea of building schedules for the future as opposed to a term-by-term basis. In the results from an AACRAO 60-Second Survey on Class Scheduling Practices and Technology, about twenty percent of those who responded said they scheduled a year in advance. Sixty-two percent indicated they scheduled one term in advance or less. As more and more institutions indicate interest in annual scheduling or building a schedule for two years, the industry needs to consider how to best provide schedules for the future.   

As the number of post-traditional students in our institutions increase, the need for standardization of scheduling is also on the rise. Post-traditional students need to be able to balance work, family, and education, and the American Council on Education reports that approximately 60% of students fall into this category. In addition to the currently enrolled post-traditional students, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center noted that thirty-six million Americans have some postsecondary education but no degree completion. In fact, many traditional students have similar needs to balance work and their education. The National Center for Education Statistics reported in May 2020 that forty-three percent of full-time students and eighty-one percent of part-time students also work. As institutions understand the students they are serving, they must consider opportunities to structure scheduling to meet the competing demands that students face.  

The prospect of moving from term scheduling to annual scheduling may seem daunting. There are several aspects of culture, infrastructure, and business process that need to be considered. One of the most frequently asked questions is how to use data to inform the annual schedule-building process. The steps below are designed to get you started. They outline a strategy to integrate your current data into the schedule design and refinement process.



Hitting a Home Run with an Annual Schedule
By following these steps, institutions can ensure that they are ready to meet the needs of their students through the execution of a well-planned schedule. As Coach George Allen said, “What you do in the off season determines what you do in the regular season.”  What will the next scheduling cycle look like for your students? 

About the Author


Laura Kelley
Vice President, Solutions Strategy
Ad Astra


Laura Kelley is Vice President, Solution Strategy at Ad Astra. With over 
20 years of experience in higher education, she works with institutions and Ad Astra personnel to ensure that products and services are in alignment with institutional needs.  Over her 10-year tenure at Ad Astra, Laura has worked directly with clients implementing Platinum Analytics, served in product management, and consulted with hundreds of clients on course scheduling and student success.  Laura holds a B.A. in English and American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Project Management from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. Before coming to Ad Astra, she worked at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the Registrar’s Office and Enrollment Services. 

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