Increasing Enrollment – Project Results

Only two weeks before the close of the semester; the busiest time for a teacher – and the reason I missed last week’s blog post. Sorry!

At this time of the semester, I find my time evenly divided between closing this semester and preparing for next semester. Email volume has tripled with students making every possible effort to boost their grades before it’s too late. My teaching assistants and I are busy with the last of the grading and getting our grade books in order. Overshadowing all of this though, is the new semester on the rapidly approaching horizon and the eleven classes that I will be supervising. Considering the amount of work to do, the five weeks until the first day of the new semester seems like a short amount of time indeed.

A few weeks back I shared with you an account of my efforts to boost enrollment for next semester (see Oct 8, “Marketing Computer Classes”). Those efforts have been continuous through the six weeks of registration which ended this past Friday. The results have been very encouraging.

You’ll recall that I am offering a few new specialized classes, online versions of some of my current classes, and revamping other classes –all in an effort to create attractive offerings for non-technology majors. These improvements are summarized at http://lit.cs.fsu.edu and include eleven class options. We’ve run several advertisements in the campus newspaper (http://lit.cs.fsu.edu/compads.html) which have attracted a lot of attention, and generated a lot of email!

The bottom line is that enrollment for our non-major “service” classes is up 28 percent for the Spring semester from current numbers; from 1,812 students to 2,322. The biggest increases have been in online courses, and Mac-specific sections. Lessons to take away from this effort include the following:

  1. Online course enrollment is up significantly (50 percent) in our general computer literacy class with no loss of students from our classroom section. In fact our classroom sections are all full, we’ll need to offer more sections in future semester. The need for Computer Literacy is not on the decline at FSU.
  2. Online course enrollment is up significantly in more advanced classes as well with a large transfer of students from our classroom sections. Overall enrollment in my Comp Lit II class has grown from 106 to 128 students with 70 percent of those students opting for the new webbased offering.
  3. The demand for Apple versions of my Computer Lit class has been strong. Last semester I offered an experimental section to 24 Mac users. For Spring 2007 the two sections I offered for Mac students quickly filled followed by many emails from students wanting to get in. I decided to open an online section for Mac users and now have a total of 102 Mac users enrolled in Mac-specific sections of Computer Lit. A number of these students switched over from Windows sections, whose seats were then taken by Windows users waiting to get into the class. I’m certain that offering Mac sections is filling an important need and drawing more students into the class.
  4. While the new one-credit hour electives I’m offering have relatively small enrollment, I believe that they will grow with word of mouth. We suffered some loss of students in these sections due to problems with registration for the variable-hour “special topics” course number.

All in all, I would say that my efforts have paid off. Other computer departments at other colleges might look to focusing on service courses for non-tech majors as a method of financially supporting technology degree programs that are suffering from declining enrollment.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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