Course Registration as a Leading Student Success Risk Indicator

Nothing unites a campus like course registration. If this little-known slogan sounds unfamiliar to you, it could be because (A) I just made it up and (B) there’s an opportunity for you and your colleagues to put student scheduling under the microscope.

Student Retention is Not One-Dimensional

Moving the needle on retention and graduation is not reliant upon any one single factor. Why do students leave? What barriers delay student progress to degree? I’m sure at least a handful of scenarios are playing through a cringe-worthy reel in your mind. The good news is, tackling retention with an all-hands-on-deck holistic approach can be fruitful, especially when deployed with an advanced analytics solution.

For this example, we will consider course registration, a recurring process that can provide valuable insight into identifying students at-risk. Whether you are an administrator, an advisor, or in a professional staff role, educating yourself on the process and understanding student data specific to your institution will help launch timely outreach and support.

Use Your Data to Connect Students to the Right Resources

Begin by asking the right questions:

  • When does registration begin each term?
  • Are students assigned a registration period? If yes, what is the criteria used to designate those assignments?
  • Does the registration period end or can students enroll in courses at any time? What are the constraints?
  • What might keep a student from registering? (i.e., – Holds, unpaid financial balance, academic suspension, etc.)
  • How do students select their courses and confirm that they are registered? Who is available to assist students should they have questions?
  • How can I, or my department, support students during this time?

Understanding the process can help to identify the data points necessary to track student progress. Othot, for example, can predict a student’s likelihood to retain or graduate based on what we know to be true about your students historically. Optimizing an advanced analytics solution can not only identify barriers but point you in the direction of those students most susceptible to them.

Some risk indicators specific to registration that can be relatively easy to access are:

  • Credit Completion – Are they maintaining a steady credit completion rate? Are they at risk of losing federal student aid or jeopardizing their academic standing?
  • Cumulative GPA – Are they at risk of academic probation or suspension, or removal from a specialized program of study? Should any course(s) be retaken?
  • Holds – Do they have any holds on their account that will prevent them from registering? If yes, do they understand the process to resolve each hold?
  • Late fees – Are they at risk of having to pay a fee for delayed registration?
  • Midterm grades – Is their academic performance indicating that they may need to retake any course(s) next semester?
  • Registered courses – Are they enrolling in courses that count toward their chosen degree?
  • Registered credits – Are they enrolling in enough credits to maintain full-time status? Are they progressing in a way that will result in timely degree completion?
  • Residential status – Do they live on campus? Are they at risk of being removed from housing if they do not register by a certain date?
  • Undecided major – Are they actively exploring options? Are they continuously completing courses that are applicable to a degree and thereby timely graduation?
  • Unpaid financial balance – Do they have a plan to pay their bill? What about future bills?

Additional risk indicators can be identified specific to an undergraduate student cohort. Some examples are:

First-Year Students

  • Do they know how to register for courses?
  • Do they know which courses to register for?
  • Can they identify any holds prior to the registration period?
  • Do they understand the importance of timely registration and degree completion?
  • Are there program-specific requirements that they need to plan for?

Second-Year Students

  • Do they know which courses to register for?
  • Do they know where to go for help registering?
  • Have they declared a major? Are they planning to switch their major?

Third-Year Students

  • Where do they stand regarding timely degree completion?
  • Are there program-specific requirements they need to complete?
  • Do they need assistance with internship search?

Fourth-Year Students (and beyond)

  • Where do they stand regarding timely degree completion?
  • Are there program-specific requirements they need to complete?
  • Are there steps they need to complete prior to participating in graduation?
  • What boxes must be checked for them to receive their degree?
  • Do they have a plan for loan repayment?
  • Do they need assistance with job search?

Identifying Students At-Risk for Retention via Course Registration

While the majority of our students successfully register semester after semester, the process can still be overwhelming. If unmonitored, small missteps can result in lengthened time-to-degree, higher net cost, and a decline in likelihood to retain and persist.

Numerous individuals at your institution may have the answers to the questions above, but cultivating a holistic student support culture can be a major challenge without an advanced analytics solution.

Consider a third-year student in good academic standing. They have been consistently retained semester after semester and do not have any immediate red flags, such as failed courses.

However, a closer look at their registration pattern indicates that they consistently have holds on their account preventing them from registering on time.

The inability to resolve their holds has made it increasingly more difficult to enroll in the courses they need for their degree, and although they are registered full-time, they are completing credits at a rate that will delay their intended four-year graduation.

Additional credits can equate to additional semesters and additional dollars.

Advanced analytics give administrators the power to identify risk factors before they become exacerbated.

You already have the student data necessary to impact individuals and improve student success on your campus. The examples provided here were specific to student registration, but imagine what other unknown barriers could be contributing to attrition.

Let your data tell the story.

Want to learn more? Visit our blog for information on how to tackle student success utilizing advanced analytics.