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How to Optimize Class Scheduling To Attract More Learners

by Greg Shula

You have a course that’s underperforming. Maybe your whole program isn’t quite reaching its registration goals. Are learners not interested, or might the schedule be to blame? Inconvenient class scheduling can prevent even the most interested student from enrolling.

Most of the advice on class 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 enrichment, arts and culture, and adult education programs manage course schedules, too. 

Enrichment students are different. Most take classes for fun or personal development. If class sessions are inconvenient or hard to access, they just won’t attend. So, you need to attract learners by offering classes on days and times that work for them. Not sure how to optimize your class schedule for non-traditional students? We’ll show you how.

How to tell if your class scheduling needs an overhaul

Of course, you can’t set a schedule that pleases absolutely everyone. But if the bullet points below happen frequently, it might be time to set a new schedule. 

  • People seem excited about your classes but don’t enroll. 
  • The *timeslot here* class is always small. 
  • Students complain about the class meeting times.
  • Students show up late or skip classes due to schedule conflicts. 

On the other hand, some problems can’t be solved with a change of timing. 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.  

Look for trends in class scheduling

Look at your registration records to spot trends. You might have a scheduling issue if you answer yes to any of these questions.

  • 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 this time or on this day?

Obviously, direct feedback from students or potential students is the best way to tell if a schedule isn’t working for them. But reviewing your records can give you a view of the overall trends. It’s also helpful if you don’t have any learner feedback to draw from. 

 CourseStorm users can export this data directly to Excel from CourseStorm. Look for classes that got canceled or have low enrollment. Are they clustered around particular times of day? Also, look for classes that have a waitlist. Are there any commonalities in the timing of those classes?

Ask students what class scheduling they want

An obvious but often-ignored way to set your scheduling is to ask current and former students. Send out a survey via email or SMS text message. You can widen your sample pool by posting a poll on social media.

Make sure your survey question is focused enough to be useful. 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?” 

Leaving the question open-ended might feel most inclusive, but it’s also less likely to yield useful answers. Format your question as a multiple-choice that reflects the times that would be feasible for your instructors. For extra insight, invite people to leave comments that explain their answers.

To make things easy for you, we’ve developed a customizable Google form that you can use to survey your students and instructors for their scheduling preferences. Simply make a copy of our form, add any customizations and start surveying. If you don’t use Google Docs, we’ve also provided a PDF version too.

Google Forms Icon Save a copy of our Google Forms Students Survey template or our Instructors Survey template.

PDF IconDownload a copy of our Students Survey PDF or out Instructors Survey PDF. 

Consider possible conflicts learners may have

Look around at your community.  Even if your classes are online, according to the article Online is (Increasingly) Local published by Inside Higher Ed, most of your learners will come from your town and the surrounding area. Are there certain times of day or days of the week when traffic is high or other events are happening?

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 accordingly. 

If your learners are parents or K-12 students, you’ll need to plan around school schedules. 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 might prefer not to drive at night. We recommend early morning and midafternoon classes to reach these learners.

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

Offer alternative formats

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

Asynchronous online classes remove any scheduling concerns. Students can access the course material when and where they want to. Alternative course 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 just the beginning. Next, you need to register students. That’s where CourseStorm comes in.

We offer impossibly simple course registration software for enrichment, adult ed, and arts and culture programs. Start your free trial or contact us for more details.

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.