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How to Offer Course Scheduling That Works Best for Your Learners

Greg Shula

October 3, 2023

People who register for your courses may be excited about your classes and eager to learn. Yet they also have lives full of other demands and responsibilities. If your course scheduling doesn’t fit learner needs, registrations may stay lower than you hoped. An inconvenient class time can keep even the most interested student from enrolling. 

Unfortunately, most of the advice on course scheduling is written for colleges and universities. It assumes that students have to take certain classes and are enrolled either full- or part-time. But learners in enrichment, arts and culture, and adult education programs have different needs.

Course scheduling for college students is different from scheduling courses adult learners take for fun or personal development. Most people won’t rearrange their life to take a class that’s inconvenient. 

Most of these learners take classes for fun or personal development. In most cases, they won’t rearrange their life just to take a class that’s inconvenient or hard to access. The upshot is that programs need to offer classes on days and times that work for learners. Doing that takes some research, here’s how to get started.

Course Scheduling Tips for Education Programs from CourseStorm

How to Tell if Your Course Schedule Needs an Overhaul

Keep in mind that some problems can’t be solved with course scheduling. If you’re not getting visitors to your website or course catalog, focus on promoting courses. If potential students drop out part way through your registration process, you might need a simpler student registration system. But if all of that looks good and registration is still low, class times might be the issue.

Keep an eye out for warning signs that your course scheduling isn’t working. You might have an issue if: 

  • People seem excited about your classes but don’t enroll. 
  • Learners complain about the class meeting times.
  • Students often show up late, leave early, or skip classes due to schedule conflicts. 

These are the clearest signs of a problem with your course scheduling. You can also look at data to spot trends that might be less readily apparent.

Look for Trends in Course Scheduling Data

Direct feedback from learners is a clear indicator that something needs to change, but it doesn’t tell you anything about the people who aren’t signing up at all. Registration data can help you recognize course scheduling issues that might keep people from registering.

Review your registration data and ask:

  • Do classes offered in certain time-slots attract fewer students? 
  • Do classes at certain times get clicks or inquiries that don’t convert?
  • Are registrations low for multiple course offerings at a specific time or on a specific day?

Have you had to cancel a class due to low enrollment? If so, your course scheduling may be to blame. Consider offering the class on a different day or time.

CourseStorm users can export registration data directly to Excel from CourseStorm. When you review your data, look for classes that got canceled or have low enrollment. Are they clustered around particular times of day? Also, look at classes that have a waitlist. Are there any commonalities in the timing of those high-performing classes?

Ask Students for Their Course Scheduling Preferences

Some programs hesitate to ask current, former and potential students about their course scheduling preferences. They believe that gathering feedback is difficult or that students won’t answer anyway. However, a direct ask really is the best way to get the information you’re looking for, and it can be easy with the right tools. 

3 ways to survey students about course scheduling preferences: 

  1. Email your survey to learners and prospects.
  2. Send out an SMS text message to your contact list.
  3. Widen your sample pool by posting a poll on social media.

Make sure your survey question is focused enough that learners want to answer it. A question like “When would you attend classes?” is too vague. Try something like, “What time of day would you prefer to attend a theater arts class?” Then offer a few options they can choose from.

An open-ended question might feel most inclusive, but it’s also less likely to yield useful answers. Format your question as a multiple-choice to keep people from overthinking their response. For extra insight, invite people to leave comments that explain their answers.

Course Scheduling Survey Template

We’ve developed a customizable Google form that you can use to survey your students about their course scheduling preferences. Simply click on the link below to copy the form, modify it to meet your needs, and send it to students to gather feedback:

Course Scheduling Survey Template

CourseStorm's Student Survey_Course Scheduling

Consider Possible Scheduling Conflicts 

Are there certain times of day or days of the week when traffic is high or other events are happening? Consider how you might schedule around these.

Even if your classes are online, most of your learners will come from your town and the surrounding area. So check the town calendar for possible conflicts. Obviously, you can’t avoid every conflict, but if concerts regularly play in your town on Thursdays, you may find enrollment dips for Thursday classes. Adjust your course scheduling accordingly. 

If your learners are parents or K-12 students, you’ll need to schedule classes around school calendars. We recommend offering classes immediately after school and increasing your options in the summer.

Older learners could be retired and able to attend classes during the daytime, but some may prefer not to drive at night. We recommend early morning and midafternoon classes to reach this audience.

Learners who work full-time might prefer mid-to-late evening classes that give them time to grab dinner after work. We recommend starting classes for these learners around 6 in the evening. You can also schedule classes on the weekend.

Offer Alternative Class Formats

You may not be able to schedule the perfect class times for every student, but you can offer them more choices. On-demand and online classes can help you reach students with unusual schedules. 

For maximum flexibility, consider asynchronous online classes. The on-demand nature of these classes removes all course scheduling concerns.  Students can access the course material when and where they want to. 

Although there are drawbacks to these kinds of courses, alternative formats can make your classes more accessible to more students.

Simple Registration for Every Course Schedule

Offering the right course at the right time is a good start. Next, you need to register students. That’s where CourseStorm comes in.

Having the right registration software in place is important to help your program run more efficiently and register more students. Choosing the right option for your education program can be a challenge so we researched how to compare registration software options to help you find the perfect fit for your program.

Greg Shula

Greg has spent a decade analyzing business and marketing performance metrics of the companies he has worked with. He uses his analytical mind and investigative skills to find trends and simple answers from complicated data sets. Greg is also an amateur photographer who loves to capture nature from new perspectives.

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