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The Changing Landscape Of Academic Course Scheduling: Key Themes Emerging for 2024

February 2023
Student Success
Sarah Collins, President, Ad Astra

I'm thrilled to share the transformative insights gleaned from our annual Top Priorities for Changing Aspects of Course Scheduling Survey. Ad Astra engaged with more than 400 institutions, spanning both two and four-year schools, to uncover their aspirations for course scheduling in the coming year. This initiative is not just a survey; it's a dynamic conversation with the higher education community, and we are grateful to play a significant role in shaping the future of academic scheduling. At Ad Astra, we take pride in being the market-leading partner for institutions seeking to elevate the course schedule as an instrument to accelerate student progress. Through this collaborative journey, we have identified five overarching themes that radiate progress and promise, signifying the collective commitment to transformative change in 2024. Maybe the most promising is the expansion of previous decades’ definition of course scheduling to include data-informed, collaborative, integrated multi-year planning.

 

  1. Data-Driven Decision-Making: The significant emphasis on enhancing data utilization and capacity (21%) showcases a shared recognition of the pivotal role data plays in making informed decisions. Survey comments highlight a thirst for comprehensive data-informed tools, encompassing access to expanded and disaggregated data for decision-making, forecasting and modeling capabilities and progress tracking for continual improvement.

  2. Student-Centric Focus: The resounding emphasis on improving student-centricity (15%) reflects a collective desire to develop schedules to match student needs. Survey comments echo the importance of understanding program pathways, predicting demand/need and balancing flexibility and structure to create schedules that support progress and timely graduation.

  3. Standardization and Collaboration: The call for standardized processes (8%) and improved collaboration between departments (13%) points to an urgent need for integration and cohesion across institutions. Survey comments reveal a desire for standardized processes and policies to support student success, efficient schedule building, and collaborative approaches to overcome departmental disparities.

  4. Multi-term Scheduling: Prioritized by 11% of respondents, implementing a year or multi-year schedule transforms academic planning by empowering proactive decision-making, aligning with students’ long-term educational goals, and fostering a student-centric environment. That said, this effort's success hinges on collaboration, clear communication, and the integration of data-driven tools for forecasting and modeling, marking a strategic shift in longer-term academic planning.

  5. Optimal Space Utilization: The emphasis on improving space utilization (11%) radiates a commitment to optimizing physical resources, avoiding overbooking and conflicts during peak hours. Survey comments voice concerns about compression during specific times, a desire for equitable schedules, and a focus on efficient room usage, highlighting the importance of resource optimization.


Ad Astra: A Partner for Transformation: As institutions embark on the exciting journey of reshaping the historical practices of academic course scheduling, the experienced team at Ad Astra team stands ready to partner. Our newest offering – Integrated Planning – expands what was previously thought of as course scheduling to a comprehensive solution aligned with the identified themes. Together, let's navigate the complexities of planning and scheduling, creating an environment where financial outcomes, institutional collaboration, and student success flourish.

Sarah-Collins-No-Background

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.

Ready to learn more about how Ad Astra can help you streamline processes and achieve a student-centered schedule?

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Education is a journey. We set the course.

Ad Astra is the trusted partner of colleges and universities committed to graduating more students faster. ​Through data-informed planning and course scheduling, we empower institutions to remove barriers to completion while also ensuring financial sustainability.

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