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Best Practices

  1. Creative Aging: Why Arts Educators Need to Engage Older Learners Now

    You’re never too old to learn something new, and it’s never too late to embrace your creativity. That’s the idea behind creative aging: art programs for older adults that enhance their quality of life through music, visual arts, and other activities. 

    If you’re an arts organization, library, community center, or anyone offering educational programs to the community and you are not serving older adult learners, you’re missing a huge opportunity. 

    By 2030, older adults (aged 55+) will be the dominant age demographic in the United States. By 2034, older adults will outnumber children under age 18 for the first time in U.S. history, according to Census Bureau projections. 

    Heather Ikemire, executive director of Lifetime Arts

    “If you want to meet the needs of your community, if you want to engage new audiences and attract new funding, it makes a lot of sense to be thinking about how to provide quality arts learning experiences for older people,” said Heather Ikemire, executive director of the nonprofit arts service organization Lifetime Arts

    But first, there are a few things you should know about reaching an audience of older learners. 

    What Is Creative Aging?

    In case you haven’t heard it before, the term “creative aging” describes the use of arts and cultural activities to improve the quality of life for older people, Ikemire explained. The field encompasses many different approaches and is practiced all over the world. Lifetime Arts recently hosted the 2023 International Creative Aging Summit, which had 400 participants from 26 countries. 

    “While the approaches to the work vary, in its broadest sense it’s recognizing the power of creative expression—engaging older people in activities centered on creative and social engagement, and the power that has in terms of supporting quality of life, the process of aging well, and also transforming cultural mindsets around what it means to age,” said Ikemire. 

    Creative aging programming can happen in multiple disciplines (music, film, visual art), in multiple spaces (libraries, museums, senior centers), and remotely or in person.

    Creative aging programming can happen in multiple disciplines, including music, film, theater, and visual arts, and in multiple spaces, such as libraries, museums, veterans homes, and more. Classes for older adults can happen remotely as well as in person, and can be free, paid, or subsidized programs. 

    Key Characteristics of Older Adult Learners 

    Older people are living longer and seeking meaningful ways to connect and continue to learn skills. But a watercolor class for adults aged 55+ should not be identical to a class for school-aged students. There are several factors that differentiate older learners from their younger counterparts:

    Adult learners are autonomous and self-directed. “They vote with their feet,” as Ikemire put it. Educational programming has to speak to them and their interests or they’ll go find something else. The best way to offer programs they want? Ask them! “It’s incredibly important to listen to the older adults in your community,” Ikemire advises arts organizations. 

    Older people are goal-oriented. They’re not just looking for a hobby or something to fill the time. They want to learn and develop skills. The creative aging model used by Lifetime Arts focuses on professionally led instructional arts programming designed to build artistic skills over time. Participants have an opportunity to practice something and then keep applying it so they can see their skills improve.

    They are seeking connection. There’s a reason creative arts programming typically takes place over a period of many weeks rather than one-time drop-in sessions. “There is evidence that shows that building social connection over time can actually lead to significant physical and mental health benefits for older people,” said Ikemire. Art classes for the elderly help to reduce social isolation and loneliness, among other advantages.

    In a recent survey, 42% of U.S. adults aged 55+ said they were seeking more social connection in their lives.

    A recent report on aging surveyed more than 28,000 U.S. adults aged 55+ and found that 42% said they were seeking more social connection in their lives. That percentage increased with age.

    They may have barriers to participation. These may include physical limitations, such as hearing or vision impairments or an inability to stand for long periods. Transportation could be an issue, or time of day if they don’t drive at night. Or, there might be another popular class in the community that meets at the same time as yours. 

    Seniors are not necessarily tech-averse. If you’re offering an online class, or even online registration for an in-person class, you might assume that rules out older learners. That’s not necessarily the case. While some seniors may be unfamiliar with technology, many are more tech-savvy than ever, thanks to the pandemic. That said, there are some best practices for working with seniors that we cover in our post, 6 Tips for Teaching Tech to Older Learners

    Opportunities for New Revenue Streams

    Offering arts programs for seniors not only benefits older learners in a community, but also can boost the bottom lines of the education programs. “It can be a really wonderful earned revenue stream for some organizations,” said Ikemire.

    Many arts centers, museums, and theaters are empty during the day. This is especially true for an arts organization that has primarily been serving younger people with weekend classes and afterschool programs. Welcoming older learners into your space during daytime hours is a good way to bring in new audiences. 

    “When you see creative arts programming in action, it’s joyful. It’s incredibly powerful.” – Ikemire

    Ultimately, these programs thrive when there’s institutional buy-in. A big part of making that happen is seeing these programs in action. Invite your staff, your board members, or other stakeholders to see creative arts programming in action. 

    “When you see it, it’s joyful. You get it right away. It’s incredibly powerful,” said Ikemire. “And there are incredible opportunities to grow audiences, to increase your budget, to find the funders for your work, and also to spark intergenerational connections between young people and older people.”

    Examples of Successful Creative Aging Programs

    When done right, arts programming for seniors can boost revenue and student loyalty. Here are a couple examples of successful programs for older learners.

    Two people painting at Rumriver Art Center in Anoka, MN, which has thriving creative aging programs

    Rumriver Art Center, Anoka, MN. Photo credit: Larry Weinberg

    Rumriver Art Center

    Previously only providing youth classes, Rumriver Art Center in Minnesota decided to expand their program offerings to include arts education opportunities for adults 55+. These programs attracted so much interest that they had to add more classes and staff. 

    Over the course of two years, the center’s creative aging programming budget increased from zero to over 25% of their annual budget. Many of the students later became teachers, volunteers, and even employees after attending classes.

    Forever Learning Institute

    Another example of a thriving education program dedicated solely to older adults is the Forever Learning Institute (FLI) in South Bend, Indiana. For 45 years, FLI has engaged older learners through a robust catalog of enrichment classes covering all sorts of topics including dance, technology, literature, and foreign languages. The classes are taught by an all-volunteer faculty. 

    FLI is home to the Silvertones, a musical glee club for ages 50+, that performs at various community locations throughout the year, as well as the Solid Silver Dancers, who learn and perform dances from the 40s, 50s, 60s, disco, Broadway, and more. The course description for that class describes it as “a dance workout that is easy on the knees and made especially for us seniors. But still fun and sassy!” 

    It’s worth noting that courses that incorporate movement are especially important for older learners. Numerous medical studies have shown that the more physically active you are as you age, the healthier you’ll be for longer.

    Creative Aging Resources for Arts Organizations

    There are numerous resources for organizations interested in learning about and implementing creative aging programming, many of them free. The best place to start is Lifetime Arts’ website, The Creative Aging Resource. The site includes articles, case studies, presentations, and research on a wide range of topics related to arts education for older populations. 

    Lifetime Arts also offers Creative Aging Foundations On Demand, a free, self-paced online course designed for institutions and individuals seeking to run arts programming for older adults. The course includes instructional videos, practical program design principles, and information on developing partnerships with other community organizations serving older adults.

    “Creativity is a human right for all of us throughout our lifespans.” – Ikemire

    “This is a time for us as mission-driven organizations to think about how we can provide programming that can really enable all people, including older adults, to age well, to age in community, and to still contribute,” said Ikemire. “Creativity is a human right for all of us throughout our lifespans.”

    CourseStorm counts a number of community education and arts organizations among our customers. Our mission is to streamline access to education to empower personal growth. Learn more about us and get in touch today to see how we can help your organization.

  2. 6 Easy SEO Tricks to Make Course Listings More Visible on Google

    The secret to search engine optimization is that there is no secret. But a few easy SEO tricks can make your course listings more visible on Google. Not only will they help students find your course pages, they’ll also make those pages more user friendly and attractive for learners. 

    You might be wondering why we’re focusing on Google specifically. The answer is pretty simple — Google searches account for more than 85% of the global search market share. Optimizing for Google search is a high-impact way to increase the visibility of your courses across the internet. 

    We’re not going to tell you to hire a pricey SEO firm or rebuild your entire website from scratch. Instead, we offer real changes you can make today to improve your SEO performance. Because when it comes to search engine optimization, small changes can make a big difference.

    What Is Search Engine Optimization?

    Let’s start by defining our terms. Search engine optimization is the content, formatting, programming, and hosting decisions that help you show up first in search engine results. 

    For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to talk mostly about on-page SEO. That is, the changes you can make to content on individual pages of your website to improve your ranking. We’re not going to get into programming and web development. Although, if you really want to up your SEO game, your web developer probably has some suggestions.

    Easy SEO Tricks for Your Course Catalog

    Easy SEO Tricks to Quickly Make Course Listings More Visible

    These easy SEO tricks can apply to any page on your website, but we’re talking about how they can help with course listings because increased course page visibility often leads to more registrations for your program. 

    1. Digitize Your Entire Course Guide

    Printed course guides are still a powerful tool. Sending them directly to potential students can help interest them in your programs, but a print catalog can’t improve your SEO. Some programs try to get away with uploading their course catalog as a PDF on their website, but that won’t help either.

    Uploading your course catalog as a PDF does not help SEO since search engines can’t read the contents of PDF files.

    First, search engines can’t read the contents of PDF files. When your course catalog is a PDF, you miss multiple opportunities to rank in search for course types and individual classes. Second, it creates an accessibility barrier. Some people are anxious about downloading files that could potentially infect their computers. Others don’t have the bandwidth for big downloads. 

    Worse, if someone is visually impaired, their assistive tools may not be able to read all PDFs. 

    When people can’t read your content, they’ll spend less time on your site, which means Google will assume you were unable to meet the user’s needs. The search engine will be less likely to show your content in future searches.

    So, putting your course catalog online is good for potential students and for SEO. Without this step, none of our other easy SEO tricks really matter.

    2. Choose Keywords That Fit Each Course

    Keywords are a core element of search engine optimization. Search engines look for keywords to tell them what a page is about. If the keywords on your page match the ones a potential student typed into their search engine, you’re more likely to rank. Keep in mind that the most powerful keywords aren’t individual words at all. They’re keyphrases. For the blog post you’re reading now the phrase “easy SEO tricks” was one of our keywords.

    The most powerful keywords aren’t individual words, they’re keyphrases. Aim for at least 3 per page.

    For each page of your course guide, you should have a minimum of around three keywords. One, the primary keyword, should tell visitors the topic of your course. You can mix in a few secondary keywords to add context. 

    For example, if your keyword is “Beginners Acting Class for Kids,” you might include phrases like:  

    • Drama class
    • Acting training
    • After-school activities
    • Improve public speaking

    You can use Google Trends or other keyword research tools to find the right words. 

    3. Optimize Titles and Descriptions

    The most powerful place to include keywords is in your title. Let’s say you have a course that helps behavioral health professionals get certified. Your title should probably include phrases like Behavioral Health Professional Certification Training or Certification Training for Behavioral Health Professionals.

    Your secondary keywords can show up in your description. Don’t get carried away here. In the early days of SEO, the more you used a keyword, the better you ranked. Now, it’s all about context. 

    Your course description should be interesting and informative. Any keywords it uses should be grammatically correct and make sense in context. They should help the visitor understand what the class is about and whether it’s the right choice for them.

    4. Customize Your URL for Each Course Listing

    This is an easy SEO trick that many people miss. Every page in your course guide has a unique web address. It probably looks something like this:

    Make sure that the slug, or URL, for each course page contains your keywords.

    The part we’re interested in for SEO purposes is the text between the last two backslashes. This is known as the slug, and it’s a unique identifier for your page. You want to make sure that the slug includes the keywords for your course. So, if you have a course on How to Draw Animals your slug should be something like /how-to-draw-animals/. 

    Here’s what to avoid when choosing a slug: 

    • Don’t use an internal course number. /290340u57/ might make sense to you, but it doesn’t tell Google anything about your course
    • Keep it short. /how-to-draw-cats-dogs-chickens-pigs-with-artist-sarah-smith/ is too much and misses the keyphrase
    • Use real words and recognizable phrases, i.e. don’t shorten how to draw animals to /hw-to-drw-anmls/

    Most website content management software includes an option to customize your slug. Take the extra moment to do this and you’ll instantly improve SEO.

    5. Organize Your Course Catalog in a Meaningful Way

    Google doesn’t just look at individual pages. It also considers how those pages fit together. This is another case where improving SEO also improves the user experience. When you organize your course content in logical ways, both Google and your potential learners can easily find what they’re looking for. 

    Organize your course guide into logical categories and subcategories. Categories might include broad topics like: 

    • Career Development
    • Personal Enrichment
    • Business and Skills Training
    • High School Completion
    • Technology
    • Summer Camps
    • Health and Fitness

    Subcategories are more focused but still encompass multiple classes. So under Personal Enrichment you may have subcategories like: 

    • Arts and Crafts
    • Cooking
    • Outdoor Experiences
    • Personal Finance

    Try to choose categories and subcategories that your average student (or their parent) might search for.

    6. Include Location Information

    Mentioning the city and state where your class is located can make your listing more likely to rank for “near me” searches. So if someone types in “personal finance classes near me” your course listing is more likely to pop up in their search. 

    Skip this step, and you could be left off the list. It’s probably not enough to include the location of your organization on the contact us page. Make sure it appears on every course listing. 

    Think Beyond Easy SEO Tricks to Keep Improving

    The easy SEO tricks we’ve shared here will get you started. They’re a quick way to improve user experience and get seen on Google. But they’re just the beginning. Keep in mind that SEO is always evolving. What works now may not be a best practice in three years. Watch the headlines to make sure you never miss an update. 

    CourseStorm can help you create a user-friendly, search engine optimized course catalog.

    Our simple course registration software helps you stay organized, lets you customize your URL, and features location information for every class. For more tips on reaching more students, read our post on course catalog examples that boost enrollment.

  3. 9 Key Elements of a Course Catalog: Examples That Boost Enrollment

    Building a quality course catalog can help you convince more students to register. The most effective course listings are more than a simple list. They combine all of the information students need to know to make an informed decision about your courses.

    We see a lot of course guides in our work with community and arts education programs. Among the hundreds we’ve seen, a few stand out as strong course catalog examples that other programs could emulate. You can use these examples as a model as you build your own course listings and to avoid common pitfalls. We’ll even break down each one so you can see what makes them effective.

    What Is a Course Catalog for?

    You may think that a course catalog is a list of classes offered by your program or organization. What people sometimes forget is that a quality course catalog is also a marketing tool. Students use it to decide which classes to take and whether those classes are worth their time and money.

    To be effective, your course catalog must capture the eye and the imagination of your potential students. It needs to convince them to register right now. 

    Potential students who browse a course catalog are looking for answers to two important questions:

    • What will this class teach me?
    • Is the value of this class worth my investment of time and money?

    Many programs struggle because they stop after answering question one. They tell students about subject matter and learning outcomes, but fail to explain why those outcomes matter. As a result, students know what the class is about, but may not see the true value in the experience.

    An effective course catalog convinces students of the value of each class. It uses every course title, description, and image to show students what they can get by taking the course.

    9 Parts of an Effective Course Catalog, With Examples

    An effective course catalog includes 9 parts. Each one helps the student gather information about the courses offered.

    1. Categories
    2. Subcategories
    3. Class names
    4. Class descriptions
    5. Images
    6. Instructor information
    7. Place and time
    8. Pricing
    9. Registration link

    Below, the course catalog example from San Juan College Community Enrichment shows all 9 parts in action.

    image of a class catalog with components as described below

    1. Categories: What Is This Course About?

    Categories help to group similar kinds of classes and make it easy for people to find the classes they’re looking for. Seek a balance between overly generic and too specific. The goal is to logically group clusters of related classes.

    Some categories that are broad, yet specific enough to be useful may include:

    • Kids classes
    • Workforce development
    • Fitness
    • Finance
    • Music and dance
    • Arts and crafts
    • Computer skills
    • Cooking

    For example, the category “Cooking” is precise. Someone can easily imagine the kinds of classes that might fit into that category. It’s also broad enough to include several different classes. Something like “French Cuisine” may be too specific, unless you run a cooking school.

    2. Subcategories Make Navigation Easier

    Subcategories can break down big topics into more specific focus areas. This helps students find the classes they are looking for by guiding them through your course catalog.

    For example, you may have 30 classes in workforce development that focus on 5 or 6 subtopics. Categories can help students find the courses that are most relevant to them.

    Some example subcategories for workforce development might be:

    • Computers & technology
    • Healthcare & medical
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Financial literacy
    • Skilled trades

    3. Class Names Tell Students What to Expect

    Effective class names tell students what the class is about. When writing class names, aim for clear description over cleverness. Here are a few examples of real class names that work:

    • Digital Photography: Capturing the Right Shot
    • Write From the Heart for Fun and Profit
    • Five Unexpected Books Every Classical Educator Should Read: Free Webinar
    • Websites That Work: Converting Web Visitors Into Customers

    These class names work because they’re clear and include keywords that search engines can find. Some also include extra details about format or cost.

    Of course, if you can be clear and clever, that’s even better. One CourseStorm customer put this idea into action for her “Learn to Crochet” class. Last year, the class was canceled due to lack of registrations. Instead of overhauling the class, she changed the name. This year, she quickly filled the class “Too Legit to Knit: Crochet Instead.”

    Pro Tip: If you run the same class every season, keep the name the same in each version of the catalog. (Unless you’re hoping to revitalize a lagging class!) This helps students recognize classes they’ve already taken and spot new ones on their preferred topics.

    4. Descriptions With Real Course Catalog Examples

    Course descriptions tell students what they’ll learn and why they should take a course. Focus on the real effect the course could have on their life. Writing a quality course description takes some effort, but the results are worth it.

    Here’s an example of a real course description from The Training Place:

    “If there’s one thing guaranteed in life, it is change. The way in which we navigate unanticipated change and stressful experiences will have a direct impact on our mind and body in subtle and not so subtle ways.

    You will be introduced to the Change RHYTHM model, explore the tone of your inner narrative, self-assess your relationship and mindset towards a recent change event, and define a set of unique resilience rituals that will enable you to adapt to and evolve through the change and maintain forward momentum in the new normal that follows.”

    This course description works because it:

    • Speaks to a real need the student has — dealing with change.
    • Explains exactly what students will learn.
    • Includes a clear outcome: “adapt to and evolve through the change and maintain forward momentum in the new normal that follows.”

    Pro Tip: If you realize you need to share more information than can comfortably fit in a course description, consider linking to a course fact sheet or FAQ attachment.

    Keywords: the Hidden Element of a Course Catalog

    Using key search terms in your course titles and descriptions makes them more discoverable to search engines. That helps your students find what they’re looking for. 

    You can do some basic keyword research using a tool like Semrush or Moz. Then, include those keywords in your course descriptions. Aim for a good mix of the two main types of keywords:

    • short-tail keywords are short and broad, such as “classes for adults” or “First Aid class”
    • long-tail keywords are longer and more specific, like “sustainable papermaking course for adults” or “Lego robot workshop for teens”

    Include both so search engines can see what your course is really about and who it’s for.

    5. Images Increase Engagement

    Images make your course listings seem more inviting. The best option is to use real photos from your courses. If that’s not possible, high-quality stock images or custom graphics can fill the gap.

    Look for images that are easy to understand at a glance. Smiling faces and bright colors tend to be most engaging. Remember to use images that include all the types of people who might take your classes.

    Screenshot of a course description with a photo of kids on playground


    6. Instructor Information Boosts Student Confidence

    Information about the instructor can provide a compelling reason to take a class. Include a paragraph about the instructor and their background, or link to their bio elsewhere on your site.

    7. Place and Time Help Orient Students

    Include information about when and where the class will run, so students can tell if it fits their schedule. Remember to mention whether a class is online or in-person.

    8. Pricing Information Is Essential

    Include clear pricing information for every class. Make sure you’re accurately portraying the whole cost of the program. Some students may love to take an art class for $300, but when they find out they have to spend another $300 to buy their own supplies, the course no longer fits their budget. It will save both your time and theirs to be forthright about pricing. 

    For big-ticket courses, consider offering payment plans to make them more accessible. Being open about pricing helps build trust and gives students the information they need to make an informed decision.

    9. Registration Links Let Students Act Now

    Every class listing should include a button or link where students can register right away. This makes it easy for someone to act while interest is high.

    Using online registration software with payment processing streamlines enrollment for students and for you. After registering online, all they have left to do is show up for class! 

    Avoid This Major Course Catalog Mistake!

    Some programs can get all 9 parts right and still not see the number of registrations they were hoping for. Why? Because they’re requiring an account before letting someone view their course catalog. 

    We’ve all had the experience of trying to read an online article only to be informed that we need to create an account first. Not only does this interrupt the natural flow for the user, but it also makes them mistrustful. They wonder, “Do you even want me to read your content, or do you just want my contact information so you can bombard my inbox with sales emails?” 

    Your class offerings aren’t confidential information—in fact, the more people who know about them, the better! Making your course catalog accessible to all gives students the chance to discover a class that’s a perfect fit for them. 

    Quick fix: Share your course catalog openly and freely. Make sure the link routes visitors directly to the catalog without a login.

    Course Catalog Examples: How It All Fits Together

    A well-organized course catalog is inviting. Whatever organizational structure you choose to guide your layout should be consistent throughout. For example, you may choose to list your classes alphabetically, or you may choose to list them based on when they run, or you may choose to list them by type category. 

    However you organize, make sure the course catalog is searchable. Bonus points if you can allow students to adjust how courses are sorted so they can view them by date, price, or alphabetically by title. 

    CourseStorm offers everything you need to build your own course catalog like the examples shared here. To learn more, start your free trial or contact us today.

  4. Why Students Love It When You Offer Payment Plans for Classes

    These days it seems like pretty much everyone is offering payment plans. Whether you need a new water heater for your home or just want a trendy new sweater, payment plans help make purchases possible. If your organization offers big-ticket courses that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, it might be time to consider offering payment plans to students. 

    Payment plans make it easier for students to afford professional credentials, certifications, camps, trips, and long-term enrichment programs. They can register now, rather than waiting to save up the full purchase price. And modern technology means that setting up payment plans can be easy for organizations too! 

    Why Offer Payment Plans to Customers?

    You may not think of your learners as “customers” but during the registration process, that’s exactly what they are. They’re shopping for a good or service, in this case an educational experience or credential. Your job is to make it easy for them to make the purchase that fits their needs. 

    Your students don’t want to miss out on classes just because they don’t have the full purchase price in their pocket right now. Payment plans allow your students to take the classes they need when they need them. 

    Offering payment plans for higher priced classes allows students to register when they want to, rather than when they have the full fee in hand. And it shows you care about your students.

    The result is that students choose the right time to take your classes based on their needs, not their bank balance. Classes offer learners an opportunity to enrich their life and even advance their careers. Those are opportunities that should be available to as many people as possible. 

    Yet, many people have experienced new financial stresses under the uncertainty of the last few years. Costs are increasing everywhere and budgets are tighter. Your students and your organization both feel that pinch. You may even need to raise prices to meet new circumstances. Offering payment plans can help smooth this transition.

    Setting up installment plans shows you care for students. You understand that everyone has different financial circumstances, and you want to be inclusive. It acknowledges the financial pressures some learners face, and shows that your organization will treat learners with respect. That makes your organization look good, even to students who don’t need a payment plan right now. 

    The Benefits of Offering Payment Plans

    Offering payment plans can seem like a new administrative burden. But the right technology makes it easy. Besides, this flexibility brings some real benefits to your organization. 

    1. Offer higher-priced classes with less risk. Often, big-ticket classes are more costly to produce. You may need to retain instructors with specialized skills, pay to maintain licenses and accreditation, get special insurance, or provide facilities and equipment over the long term. Setting all this up is a financial risk for your organization, but payment plans keep money flowing month after month.

    2. Gauge level of interest. It’s sometimes hard to tell why registrations are lower than expected for a specific class. Are students just not interested, or is the price scaring them away? Payment plans help remove some of the price burden so you can more easily gauge interest.

    3. Register more students. Spacing out payments makes classes more affordable since students don’t have to come up with a lump sum. That means you may get more registrations and be able to reduce class cancellations

    How to Avoid Potential Drawbacks of Installment Plans

    The obvious danger with payment plans is that a student will fail to pay the whole amount. One way to avoid this problem is by setting up the plan so that the full amount is due before the class starts. Learners can hold their seat with a deposit, but must pay in full before the start date. For longer-term classes, you can spread the payments out a little more, but still require full payment before the end of the class. 

    CourseStorm does not charge any additional fees for payment plans, to students or programs.

    Depending on your payment processor, you can sometimes incur additional costs for taking payments in installments. Make sure you ask about any payment fees or administrative charges before offering payment plans to students. CourseStorm does not charge any additional fees for payment plans. There is no cost difference to students between courses paid in full in advance or on payment plans.

    Setting up and administering payment plans can be labor intensive, unless you have the right tools in place. Many organizations never take the plunge because they think set-up will be difficult and they dread the administrative complication. Fortunately, unless you’re still using manual spreadsheets and mailed checks to handle registrations, those problems should be a thing of the past. 

    How to Offer Payment Plans and Never Miss a Payment

    Ideally, your registration system has built-in payment processing. The best course registration and payment tools also have payment plans built in, so students automatically get charged when a payment is due.

    Adding a payment plan in CourseStorm

    At CourseStorm, payment plans are built-in and easy to use. We manage all the technical details for you so you get consistent automatic payments. For any class that costs more than $100, you’ll see a handy button that lets you configure payment plans for that class. You can have different plans for different classes or choose not to offer the option at all.

    When students register, they can opt to pay the full amount upfront, or sign up for automatic charges. The system will auto-schedule payments based on the time left between registration and the date the registration must be fully paid off. 

    You can even set up custom payment schedules if you have a student in special circumstances. This kind of flexibility means you can work with students to meet their unique needs and help overcome hardships that might otherwise prevent them from registering. 

    You Know Your Students Best

    Payment plans are increasingly common for educational programs, and many customers have come to expect them as an option for higher-priced opportunities. 

    Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you offer payment plans. Whatever you decide, we’ve made it easy by integrating them directly into CourseStorm’s class registration and payment software. For more on how CourseStorm works, or to experience our surprisingly simple registration software for yourself, start your free trial today. 

  5. What’s Your Mindset? Growth vs. Fixed and Why It Matters

    As someone who provides educational experiences, you may have heard of the concept of growth vs. fixed mindset. This idea that what you believe about yourself impacts what you can achieve in life is not new. Carol Dweck introduced the concept of growth mindset to the world almost 20 years ago.

    Yet knowing is not the same as applying. Even though you model a growth mindset for your students, it’s sometimes difficult to apply it to yourself and your organization. At CourseStorm, we know that growth is a primary goal for many educational organizations. Let’s take a look at how you can apply a growth mindset to help your organization thrive.

    What Is a Growth Mindset?

    A growth mindset is the belief that you can develop talents and abilities through persistent effort over time. Basically, it says that anyone is capable of improving if they’re willing to work at it.

    This is a belief that many educators share. After all, the courses you offer encourage people to work to improve their skills. You don’t assume that a student comes to class already able to do everything you’re going to teach them. What would be the point?

    A growth mindset is the belief that anyone is capable of improving if they’re willing to work at it.

    Growth mindset stands in contrast to fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is the idea that you are born with a set of abilities or talents and nothing you do can change that. 

    Carol Dweck explored these two concepts in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success which is now considered a pop psychology classic. Yet, many people miss one key idea about mindset, and it’s an idea that’s particularly relevant to organizations. 

    Dweck says that you may have different mindsets in different situations. For example, you may believe that you are capable of learning anything, but that your level of athleticism is fixed. What does this mean for organizations? It means that even if you have an organization full of educators who believe their students are capable of growth, you may still have a mindset problem when it comes to the organization itself. 

    The Value of a Growth Mindset for Educational Organizations

    “We can’t expect big classes in our small town.” 

    “We can only offer one class at a time because we can’t handle too many registrations at once.” 

    Raising prices would mean we’d lose all of our students.” 

    All of these are examples of fixed mindset ideas. They assume that the organization’s ability to grow is limited by outside factors. Although context is important, growth-minded organizations don’t assume that a challenge is a barrier. Rather, they look for ways to turn these obstacles into opportunities. 

    “The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.” – Carol Dweck

    Organizations with a growth mindset set goals for growth. Fear of failure could hold organizations back from even trying, but growth-minded organizations assume that failure will be part of the process. Just as a student needs practice to develop a skill, organizations may need to try multiple strategies to reach their goals. 

    What’s Your Mindset? How to Do a Mindset Audit

    It’s easy for organizations to fall into a fixed mindset. The burden of responsibility for students and staff members can make leadership more cautious. So can fear of social backlash or a loss of reputation. One fixed mindset person can influence the whole team, especially if that person is in a leadership position.

    Avoid the dangers of a fixed mindset by doing an annual Mindset Audit. Gather your leadership together and ask these questions. You can make a copy of our mindset audit form to collect responses.

    Mindset Audit Questions for Organizations

    An organization with a growth mindset sees failure as part of the process and uses challenges as opportunities to improve. Negative reviews or student complaints are valuable insights that offer guidance toward improvement. These organizations have clear, trackable goals for growth and support their employees to improve. Finally, they use scalable processes and procedures that leave the organization room to develop. 

    If you have an open and trusting relationship with instructors and administrative staff, you might ask them variations of these questions as well. 

    • In your experience, how does our organization respond to failure? 
    • Without looking anything up, can you list the organization’s formal goals for growth? 
    • How well do you feel the organization supports your career and personal growth? 
    • What processes and procedures might limit our growth? 

    Staff responses can give you insight you might otherwise miss. They help you spot whether your organization is acting on its values. 

    How to Apply Growth Principles in Your Organization

    If you notice your educational organization isn’t as growth-minded as you would like, that’s okay! You can make changes to shift that shared mindset. 

    1. Create an Organizational Plan for Growth

    Consider how you plan to grow and set clear goals for the organization. Keep in mind that organizational growth needs to be sustainable. If you want to add more students, you may need better systems or more staff to meet the workload. To grow revenue, you need more registrations, higher prices, or lower overhead. Think about your goals and what it will take to achieve them. Then, share your plan with the whole organization.

    2. Keep Failure in Perspective

    Nobody hopes for dissatisfied students, unbalanced budgets, or canceled classes. Yet, these things can happen to any organization, particularly when you try something new like a different type of course or a new software system. 

    Growth-minded organizations run a post-mortem meeting to figure out what went wrong and learn from it. But they don’t let this learning process feel punitive. The goal is not to avoid failure at all costs, but to learn from it. 

    3. Support Individual Growth

    No matter how skilled your staff members are, they still have room to grow. Your organization can support that growth through periodic performance reviews, training opportunities, and recognizing effort. If possible, you may even provide tuition assistance or fund professional development and attendance at conferences. 

    4. Plan for Negative Feedback

    It’s easy to dismiss negative reviews as the work of internet trolls or unreasonable people. But growth-minded organizations take feedback seriously. They read every review and try to understand how they could do better in the future. That doesn’t mean you take reviews personally, but it does mean thinking critically about the issues raised in a review. 

    You can also create a process for how staff members should capture and respond to feedback, whether it comes from online review sites or class evaluations

    5. Choose Scalable Solutions

    Organizations limit their own growth when they cling to high-effort processes. Although it is possible to manage student registrations with a spreadsheet, that process soon becomes unwieldy. It requires time and effort that might be better spent on directly supporting students. 

    Scalable processes, procedures, and software solutions give your organization room to grow. Take CourseStorm’s online registration and payment processing software for example. 

    With no monthly fees, you can scale your organization to meet demand without worrying about the cost of your registration software. Our built-in marketing tools make it easy to reach any group of students or potential students. Plus, automatic waiting lists and low-enrollment warnings help you fill classes and grow your program. For more details on how CourseStorm helps growth-minded education organizations thrive, contact us or download our State of Informal Learning report today.

  6. How Better Waitlist Management Can Improve the Student Experience

    Imagine that you announce a new class and students quickly start signing up. Before you know it, you have more interested students than one instructor can handle. Suddenly waitlist management has become a top priority. 

    That might sound like a dream come true for your education program, or it may be a regular occurrence. Either way, smart waitlist management can help you make the most of this opportunity. It’s a chance to build a relationship with more students and understand what learners are looking for. We’ll show you how to manage a waiting list without investing in extra waitlist software. 

    What Waitlist Management Can Do for Your Program

    You might wonder if your classes really need waiting lists. It might be easier to just fill classes and not worry about the people who miss out. But with the right tools, managing a waiting list can be simple and having one opens up a number of new opportunities. 

    With the right tools, managing a waiting list can be simple and opens up a number of new opportunities like these.

    1. Keep Learners Engaged

    If a potential student learns that a class is full, they may get discouraged. When that discouraging experience is their first interaction with your class offerings, they may go looking for the class in other places. However, a waitlist can keep them engaged a little longer.

    Adding students to a waiting list gives them hope that they may still get to register. They’re likely to be extra engaged as they wait for news. This engagement creates an opportunity for you to reach out with other options—classes that meet at a different time or cover related topics. You might even provide a promo code they can apply to another class while they’re waiting.

    2. Improve the Student Experience

    A student who ends up on a waiting list is likely to be disappointed, but they also gain something valuable—early access to registration for upcoming classes. Students on your waiting list should get the chance to register before the general public. While the timing may not work out for them, you’ve at least shown the student you care about their experience. 

    3. Fill Classes Faster

    Waiting lists help you fill classes faster by preloading the class with waiting list students. Other potential students may be spurred to action by the knowledge that the class is filling up fast. This can create a positive feedback loop that leads to even more interest in the class. 

    4. Help You Plan Your Course Calendar

    A waiting list is a good indication that people are interested in the topic you’re teaching. You may choose to add a second session or create other classes around the topic. It might even be worthwhile to move resources away from a low-enrollment class so you can offer more sessions of high interest classes. 

    5. Influence Your Pricing Strategy

    If a class regularly has a waitlist, you may also have room to increase your prices. Students are often willing to pay more for a class they see as popular and highly valuable. 

    How to Manage a Waitlist

    Managing a waitlist can be simple if you have the right processes in place. An online registration system that includes a waitlist option (like CourseStorm) is the easiest way to manage your waitlists. You can enter the data into a spreadsheet or even a paper form, but the more you can automate the process, the easier it will be. 

    Students on a waiting list in the CourseStorm Software

    Here are a few more tips to improve your waitlist management: 

    • Tag everyone on your waiting list with the class and class category they’re interested in, so you can contact them with relevant opportunities.

    • Try CourseStorm’s new waiting list feature: when a spot becomes available, you can send people on the waiting list a link that expires after a set time. Then, they can either register right on your site or decline the invite. 

    • Have a clear waitlist policy so potential students understand what they’re signing up for. 

    If you don’t already have a waitlist policy, that last tip may require some explanation. Here’s what should go in a waitlist policy and how to share one.

    Write a Waitlist Policy

    Let students know how you’ll manage your waitlist by including a clear waitlist policy when they join. Students should understand exactly what they’ll get out of joining the waitlist and how you’ll communicate with them about upcoming opportunities. 

    Every waitlist policy should cover these 3 things. We’ve suggested some sample language to use.

    Even a simple first-come-first served policy needs some explanation. Every waitlist policy should cover: 

    1. How you’ll communicate with people on the list.
    2. What they get out of joining the list.
    3. How potential students can remove themselves from the list.  

    Here is some sample language you might include in your waiting list policy: 

    • “If a space opens up in the class you are interested in, you will be notified by email. You will have 24 hours to either complete your registration or decline the opportunity. If you have not completed your registration within 24-hours, we will assume you have declined and will offer the space to the next student on the list.”

    • “If space does not open up in the class you are interested in, you will get early registration access to the next class session. Please watch your email for notifications.” 

    • “We may email you with recommendations for upcoming classes related to this one. Please watch your email or visit our course catalog for more details.” 

    • “If you would like to remove yourself from this list, please email: It may take up to 48 hours to remove you from our system.” 

    If your waiting list policy is anything other than first-come-first serve, note that in the policy. For example, you may give preference to people who have relatives already in the class, are members of your organization, or have taken classes with you in the past. 

    Waitlist Management Made Simple

    Having a waitlist for your classes provides an excellent customer experience, can make your program more successful, and helps you fill classes. You can automate waitlist management by including the option for every class you offer. Learn how to build a waitlist in CourseStorm or contact us for more details. 


  7. 6 Benefits of Enrichment Classes for All Ages

    Education doesn’t stop when the school bell rings or when graduation is over. In fact, everyone is constantly learning, whether that’s through a formal class or informal exploration. People who take a lifelong learning approach to life may seek out enrichment classes for personal growth, to build new skills, or connect with others in their community. 

    What are enrichment classes? Typically non-credit, they can cater to any age or interest of learners in your local community.

    What are enrichment classes? Afterschool programs, adult ed classes, workshops at your local makerspace, lectures at a senior center, and educational offerings at a theater or museum can all be considered enrichment programs. Enrichment classes are non-credit and typically outside of core subjects like math and reading. They can cater to any age or interest; the common theme is that the majority of learners come from the local community. 

    Below, we explore 6 benefits of enrichment classes that community education programs can use in their marketing campaigns, to encourage donations, or to inspire your team by reminding them that they’re doing important work.

    Benefits of Enrichment Programs for Your Community

    Are you wondering why is enrichment important for students? Enrichment classes fill needs that for-credit courses and other educational programming just can’t. Enrichment classes also strengthen your community and your organization’s place within it. Here are 6 ways enrichment classes benefit learners and communities.

    Top 3 Benefits of Enrichment Classes: Connection, Community, and Confidence

    1. Connect people who might not meet otherwise

    Enrichment classes have an amazing way of bringing people together. They might be students with different majors who would never cross paths otherwise, or they could be members of your wider community who work in different areas. Bringing these people together enriches everyone. It leads to lateral thinking, unconventional partnerships, and a sense of community connection.

    An innovative program at the University of Texas at Austin called Lifelong Learning With Friends gives adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities access to the university experience through stimulating and fun post-secondary education opportunities. “Reverse inclusion” means that neurotypical UT college students learn alongside their neurodiverse peers.

    2. Claim your place within a wider community

    Enrichment classes also help your program build relationships with the wider community. When people in the community depend on your program as a source of education, they have tangible examples of the value you offer to the community. This makes them more likely to support, donate, and lobby on your behalf. 

    Many community colleges have begun offering non-degree credentials that address the needs of local employers and industries. Forming partnerships with local businesses is a win everyone: the educational institution, learners, and the community. 

    3. Improve soft skills and confidence

    Many learners are focused on how education can help them find a new job or earn a raise in their current one. But technical classes aren’t the only way to do that. Enrichment courses help learners improve soft skills. From creativity to communication, problem-solving to public speaking, enrichment classes present fun challenges that help learners improve their skills. 

    Lifelong learning has been shown to boost confidence and build soft skills like creativity and communication. 

    Learners don’t leave these skills in the classroom. They bring them out into the community. Plus, lifelong learning has been shown to boost confidence and self-esteem. It also gives people hope and purpose, which can help them face the stressors of life.

    4. Prevent the dreaded “brain drain”

    Enrichment classes can keep kids from backsliding during summer breaks. Research has shown that kids can lose an average of 20-27% of their school-year gains during summer vacation. Keeping them engaged and learning can help prevent some of these losses.  

    The same principle can help seniors in retirement. Research has shown that seniors can improve their cognitive health by learning something new. It’s more effective than just socializing. So your enrichment program can benefit both the oldest and youngest members of your community.

    The State of Informal Learning Report by CourseStorm

    Informal learning rarely gets access to the industry-wide data that other sectors of education do. We don’t think that’s fair. To help close this information gap, we compiled what we’ve learned from facilitating more than 1 million class registrations to unearth patterns and strategies that you can apply to your education program. Download the State of Informal Learning report now!

    5. Give every learner the chance to shine

    Traditional academic subjects may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. Students who struggle with math or reading may excel in classes focused on arts or performance. Those who hate sitting through a whole class period may blossom in a dance or gymnastics class. Offering a variety of types of classes invites more people into your learning community. Encouraging a more diverse community benefits everyone

    To get a better understanding of the different kinds of learning and where your program fits in, check out our free resource, A Complete Guide to Types of Learning and Why We Need Them All.

    6. Bring in new students and keep existing students engaged

    If your organization offers for-credit courses or diplomas, enrichment classes can serve as a lead magnet for these higher-investment programs. They give students a fun and accessible way to experience your program. Even offering a free course can pay off in the long run. 

    Offering enrichment classes can keep students engaged and attract new learners between sessions or semesters of for-credit courses.

    Engagement leads to enrollment. If your organization offers semester-based learning or seasonal programs, you probably experience some enrollment melt between sessions. Offering enrichment classes can keep students engaged during the off-season so they’re more likely to re-enroll during the regular term. 

    Use These Benefits of Enrichment Classes in Marketing

    Knowing the benefits of enrichment classes is one thing. Spreading the word about them is another. Help learners and community members see the value of your program by talking about these benefits. Not only could it help you sell more classes, it can also show your commitment to the community. 

    Of course, none of the benefits of enrichment classes can be realized until students enroll. Make registering for your enrichment classes easy with our impossibly simple registration software. We offer everything you need to register students, manage class rosters, and keep students engaged with your program. Start your free trial or contact us today.

  8. The Best Class Registration Forms Achieve These 5 Vital Tasks

    Online class registration forms can do more than gather information. They’re often your first direct communication with a student. You can use them as an opportunity to share information, better understand student needs, and tap into their insight. In short, well-designed class registration forms set the foundation for a positive student experience.

    To achieve all that without overwhelming the student takes some smart decision making. You want to keep your forms focused and relevant, but still collect and share the information you need. Let’s look at the basic tasks every registration form must accomplish. Then we’ll share a simple course registration form template you can customize with class-specific questions. 

    What Should a Class Registration Form Do?

    It’s easy to forget that class registration forms are a two-way line of communication. Collecting information from the student is only half their job. The other half is to provide the essential information a student needs to feel excited and prepared.

    Make sure that your class registration forms accomplish all five of the following vital tasks.

    1. Gather information about the student

    The first function of a student registration form is to gather all of the information you need to know about them. This may include their name, date of birth, and their email address or phone number. For some classes, you might also need information about the student’s gender, allergies, or disabilities that might need special accommodation.

    Be thoughtful about which information you really need. Gender, disabilities, and even date of birth might not be relevant in all cases. Show students that you respect their privacy by only asking for essential information.

    2. Share details about class requirements or expectations

    You can write a beautiful class description outlining everything students need to know, and they may still miss some details. If something is essential, include it on your registration form. Then add a box they can check to indicate that they’ve read and understood each item. 

    For example, the following paragraph packs in a lot of information: 

    “Family Float is a kayaking class for families. That means, children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. This is an immersive class, so you will get wet! Each participant should wear a swimsuit and bring a towel. Goggles and swim caps are optional. For your safety, you must wear your instructor-provided life jacket at all times while in the marked boating area.” 

    This might be a useful part of a class description, but it isn’t the best choice for your registration form. The friendly tone buries some of the details and students could easily miss important information if they’re reading quickly. They are more likely to come prepared if you list each requirement or expectation individually. 

    Like this:

    • I understand that an adult guardian must accompany my child at all times during this class. 
    • Both my child and their adult will bring a swimsuit and towel to every class. 
    • I agree that both myself and my child will wear our instructor-provided life jacket at all times while in the marked boating area. 

    checklist items on a class registration form showing that a student understands the expectations of the class

    It’s easy to take this advice too far. Although you want to cover the essentials, you don’t have to include every detail of your course. For example, the part about goggles and swim caps probably isn’t vital to providing a safe and positive student experience.

    If you do have supplemental information to share, you might want to include it as a linked PDF. Just keep in mind that students may not take the time to review everything. For the form itself, think about what information students will need to know in order to feel prepared for your course. Instructors can cover anything else during the class. 

    3. Include pricing information and ways to pay

    Clearly state the cost and method of payment on your registration form. Link any price-adjusting options so the total automatically updates. 

    For example: If you’re hosting an Intro to Photoshop course you may offer a discounted license for the software. Some students may already have a copy and want to pay for just the class. In that case, you could include two pricing options. One for the class plus software and one for the class registration alone.

    If you’re operating as a non-profit or providing free classes, you may also want to ask for a donation. Explain how your organization might use the donation. Wherever possible, include a suggested donation amount. A clear use and suggested donation amount can increase the likelihood that people will donate.

    Here are some ways to put this into practice: 

    • Your $3 donation helps cover administration costs for this class.
    • Foster a child’s creativity by donating $35 to meet the cost of class enrollment for one student.
    • $10 pays for your class materials, helping us offer this class to more students.

    4. Record consent for legal information or terms of use

    If you need any waivers, legal releases, or consent forms, ask for them on your registration form. This lets instructors spend less time on legalities, and gives students a chance to read and review material.

    Decide whether you need any or all of the following: 

    • Refund policy
    • Photo release or recording permission
    • Guardian consent for students under 18
    • Statements about potential allergens or hazards
    • COVID or other health policy statements
    • Guidelines for using equipment or facilities

    Even if you ask students to sign required documents when they arrive in class, include them with the registration form. This allows students to review them and ask questions ahead of time.

    5. Offer opportunities to provide feedback

    Feedback might be the most underutilized function of a class registration form. You don’t have to wait until a student has completed a class to start gathering their feedback. Opening a line of communication early shows students that you value their insight and are ready to listen. 

    Try adding questions like: 

    • How did you hear about this class?
    • On a scale of 1 to 5, how easy was it to register for this course?
    • What other classes would you like us to offer?

    Limit yourself to one or two feedback questions that the student can answer quickly. Too many questions can make your form seem cluttered and overwhelming. Remember, this is just the beginning of the conversation.

    A Class Registration Form Template Worth Copying

    When you’re ready to start building your own class registration form, aim for simplicity. In some cases you may only need the student’s name, phone number, mailing address, and payment information. Students will appreciate that you stuck to only the most essential questions.

    Example of a simple class registration form

    Some course providers fall into the habit of using one form for everything. So if one course requires special details, like allergy information, they include it in every form. The problem is that your forms quickly become bloated and complicated, which adds friction for the student.

    It’s smarter to have a basic form template that you adjust for each class. When you customize forms to collect and share the right information, you offer a better student experience.

    The checklist below will help you customize your forms. Use the optional fields only if you absolutely need that information to offer a quality class.

    Checklist for Better Class Registration Forms. Essential for every form: student name, phone, email, address, payment info. Optional, use only when needed: age gender or other demographic info; disabilities or allergies that need accommodation; details about class requirements; donation request; photo release or recording permission; guardian consent; equipment or facility use guidelines; feedback requests.

    Make Your Class Registration Forms Easy to Use

    Most importantly, your online registration forms should be accessible and easy to use. Make it mobile-friendly and use modern formats.

    When forms are relevant, easy to read, and full of useful information, online class registration is easier for students. And that’s the beginning of a positive student experience.

    That’s why CourseStorm offers built-in student registration forms and a range of customization options. We help you keep forms simple, while getting and sharing all the information you need to make a class successful. Contact us to learn more, or start your free trial and test the forms out yourself.

  9. How a Clear Refund Policy Can Encourage More Registrations

    No class provider wants to issue a refund to students. You want your classes to happen as scheduled and for students to be satisfied with the experience. But when weather, illness, or other circumstances disrupt the best-laid plans, it’s smart to have a clear refund policy. It lets both students and staff know what to expect. 

    We’ll show you how to write a clear policy that improves the student experience and makes life easier for your staff at the same time. We’ve even created an example refund policy that you can copy and customize to fit your needs.

    Why You Need a Clear Refund Policy

    Well-written refund policies are vital for any business providing services to the public, that includes course providers. A refund policy establishes expectations for both your business and customers and can protect you from potential financial losses and liability. 

    A clear refund policy lets students know what to expect if they need to cancel a registration and can protect you from financial losses and liability.

    Your policy lets registrants know what to expect if they need to cancel a registration. Having a signed or virtually acknowledged refund policy can also help you win a credit card dispute known as a chargeback. When your policy is clear, students and registrants can work with you directly without getting credit card companies involved.

    Example of a Clear Refund Policy

    Let’s start with a solid example of a clear refund policy. This example covers the common reasons you might cancel classes, as well as reasons students might need to cancel. It explains common situations and how you’ll handle refund requests. 

    Note that we are registration software providers, not lawyers, so this isn’t legal advice. It’s just an example of a clear policy you might use as a starting point.

    Example Refund Policy

    This refund policy covers class cancellations and refunds for registered students. By registering for classes, you indicate that you have read and understand this policy. 

    1. Weather-Related Cancellations:

    We may sometimes choose to cancel classes if severe weather makes attendance unsafe for students or instructors. If this happens, we will notify you by phone or email. You will receive a full refund or credit toward an upcoming class if we cancel due to weather. 

    1. Illness and Health-Related Cancellations:

    If an instructor is ill and unable to teach as scheduled, we may bring in a substitute or cancel the class. If a class is canceled due to instructor illness, we will notify you by phone or email. You may choose to receive a refund or credit toward an upcoming class if we cancel due to instructor illness.  

    1. Insufficient Enrollment:

    If a class does not meet the minimum enrollment required to run effectively, we may have to cancel or reschedule it. Participants will have the option to transfer to another class, receive a credit, or request a full refund.

    1. Personal Cancellations:

    If you cannot attend a class, you must notify us 7 days before the class start date to request a refund. An administrative fee of 10% will be deducted from the refund amount.  If you cancel fewer than 7 days in advance, you will not be eligible for a refund. 

    1. No-Shows or Missed Classes:

    Refunds will not be provided for no-shows or missed classes without prior notification.

    1. Refunds Requests and Processing:

    You must submit refund requests by email to Refunds will be processed within 14 business days after we receive the request. If you paid by credit card or online payment system, the refund will be issued back to the original payment method. If you paid by cash or check, refunds will be provided by check. 

    We strive to be fair to our students while ensuring the smooth functioning of our programs. Please contact for any questions or concerns related to our refund policy.

    You can adjust this policy to meet your needs. You might want to add or remove items depending on the kind of classes you teach. 

    How to Write a Clear Refund Policy

    The example above can help you write a clear refund policy for your program. Whether you use our language or write your own, keep these best practices in mind. 

    • Be concise. People tend to breeze over terms and agreements when registering. Keeping your policy brief will increase the chances that your registrants will read it. Your refund policy shouldn’t be longer than one page.

    • Use plain language. Legal jargon might make your refund policy sound official, but it won’t make it clear. Try to write in plain language an 8th grader could easily understand.
    • Write one policy for all classes. Your refund policy should be standard across all of your classes. Consistent rules make it easier for students to remember and apply your policies. 

    The Best Refund Policies Include These 4 Items:

    4 parts of a clear refund policy: time limit, policies, procedures, exemptions

    Your refund policy should clearly outline what students or registrants can expect. That means it should cover all common situations as well as the procedure for requesting and processing refunds. Check that your refund policy includes these 4 items:

    1. Time limit for refunds. Be clear about your refund timeframes. For example, “no refunds after the first day of class” or “refunds must be requested 48 hours before a class begins.”

    2. Policies for class cancellation. There are multiple reasons why a class may be canceled. Cover the most common ones (weather, illness, low enrollment) so students know what to expect.

    3. Specific exemption information. Tell students which fees you will refund in each situation. For example, some programs offer a special exception if the student gets sick. Others may refund a materials fee but not the class fees.

    4. Clear refund request procedures. Describe the procedure that a registrant must follow in order to request a refund. Link to necessary paperwork and tell them exactly where to send it or whom to contact. 

    It’s also good practice to review and update your policy yearly. If you make changes, email existing students and let them know. 

    How to Share a Refund Policy

    A clear refund policy is only useful if your students know about it. To make sure your registrants see your refund policy, share it in at least one of the following places: 

    • Your main website menu
    • As a link in the footer of your main website
    • As a link at the bottom of each course description

    CourseStorm customers can share their refund policy in two useful ways: as a link on their CourseStorm site or as a waiver on their class registration form.

    If you’re a CourseStorm customer, you can share your refund policy in two other useful ways. Adding it as a link in the intro text of your CourseStorm site can make it more visible. You can add it as a waiver on your class registration form. The waiver should include a checkbox indicating that the student has read and agreed to the policy.

    Share Your Policy Internally

    Your staff should also get a copy of your policy so they are ready to answer questions from students. Sharing the policy internally ensures that everyone is following the same rules. If you decide that certain staff members should have the power to make exceptions, tell them where to document those exceptions. 

    Clarity Makes Registrations Simple

    Nobody wants to issue a refund, but it’s good to know you have a clear policy in place when needed. Your straightforward approach will help students feel more confident in their purchase. Staff members will save time by having a clear policy to reference. Your program might even save money by avoiding chargebacks and other headaches. 

    Simplifying the class registration process is something we know a lot about here at CourseStorm. Our online class registration and payment software simplifies everything from policy sharing to group registrations, so your students get a seamless registration experience every time. Try a free trial for yourself, or contact us to learn more.

  10. Educating Arts Educators: 6 Ideas for Professional Development

    All educators benefit from professional development. Teachers in the arts are no exception. In fact, art teacher professional development serves a double purpose. It helps professionals hone their teaching abilities while also improving their artistic skills. 

    Making art and teaching it are two separate but related skills. The best artist-educators find time for their own creative pursuits and also take opportunities for teacher professional development. 

    Fortunately, there are organizations that offer specialized workshops and classes for art teachers and other arts educators. We’ve rounded up some resources and suggestions for where to find these opportunities so art teachers can continue to work on their craft while supporting their students. 

    Read more

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