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Streamlined Registration Process Boosts Enrollment at Jacksonville State University

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The Challenge: Facing declining retention and cumbersome scheduling, Jax State needed to address barriers to enrollment.

The Strategy: Implement a seamless registration experience that facilitates student persistence to the next term, providing advisors additional time and opportunities to connect with students.

The Outcomes: By simplifying the scheduling and registration experience, Jax State is achieving better student outcomes and improving interactions between students and staff.

Jacksonville State University (Jax State) has evolved significantly from a state teachers’ college in 1883 to an Alabama regional university with the highest percentage of accredited programs. While Jax State’s academic offerings have grown in prestige, they are encountering a problem that many regional colleges face today—declining enrollment. 

Finding innovative, effective ways to overcome barriers to recruiting new students and retaining existing ones is imperative to Jax State’s future. When the new president arrived in 2019, the first objective listed in Jax State’s Strategic Plan was “Inclusive Enrollment,” which includes increasing enrollment and providing quality student support services for undergraduate and graduate students.

“We have consistently seen an increase in enrollment since implementing Civitas Learning Student Scheduling.”

— Emily White,
Registrar, Jacksonville State University

The Challenge: Improve the student registration experience to address declining enrollment

Institutions want the decision to enroll for the next term to be easy, recognizing the challenges students already encounter. However, navigating enrollment has become increasingly complex, with students taking classes alongside work and family obligations, often needing help balancing life with their education.

Students require effective support systems and accessible resources to progress in their college journey, as success in college extends far beyond academics alone. A crucial component of this support is making scheduling and registering for courses a simple, intuitive process. 

Like many institutions, Jax State’s students had the opposite registration experience. Building a class schedule that fit their lives was challenging and overwhelming, especially when coupled with the need to move between multiple platforms. As a result, students seeking help waited in long drop-in lines during registration. This increased stress and uncertainty for students and overwhelmed already busy frontline staff.

The Strategy: Implement a simplified course registration process to remove barriers to retention and completion

College is challenging enough, and Jax State recognized the importance of simplifying the class registration process. Even seemingly minor inconveniences—such as finding a math course on a Tuesday afternoon—can make it easy to put the task aside and focus on something else. This, in turn, can cause students to face obstacles in progressing toward graduation, resulting in delays and, in some cases, withdrawal altogether.

Simplify Student Schedule Building

To simplify the process of building student schedules and navigating registration, Jax State adopted Civitas Learning’s student scheduling solution. Students now enjoy the ease of auto-generating their best-fit schedules based on courses they must take, breaks, and preferences like a specific campus, section, or faculty member. 

Additionally, they can compare schedules side by side, enabling them to make informed decisions once the enrollment period opens. Once a preferred schedule is selected, students can register using the same interface.

“When students look at our interactive schedule, it can be overwhelming, but when they plug in what’s on their plan of study, the shopping cart is a comfort to them clear, clean, concise and quick.”

— Emily White,
Registrar, Jacksonville State University

Provide Clear and Consistent Messaging within the Registration Experience

Further clarifying the registration process, Jax State is committed to providing all the information students need within the scheduling solution. This eliminates the need for students to search through multiple platforms to find details such as instructional modality, fees, and the part of the term in which the course is offered. They have also removed fields irrelevant to Jax State, such as which campus a course is offered since there is one main campus. 

After implementing student-centered scheduling with Civitas Learning, dual enrollment and continuing students could resolve most of their registration issues independently. This not only eased their stress and anxiety over the registration process but also addressed capacity constraints for advisors, the Office of the Registrar, and other staff supporting students through the registration process. 

Civitas Learning Student Scheduling shopping cart

Create More Time for Student-Advisor Dialogue

With over 300 advisees per advisor, capacity is extremely limited, especially during an active registration period that only lasts six weeks. Manually building students’ schedules during a brief 30-minute window left little room to connect with students and discuss anything beyond logistics.

With Civitas Learning’s scheduling solution, students come to their appointments with their courses pre-selected, allowing advisors to efficiently help them address any final questions. Conversations are reserved for identifying major-specific class sections or other concerns. Simplifying the registration process for students saves advisors time by reducing time spent supporting schedule building. This allows them to spend more time building relationships and providing holistic support.

Advisors can see the big picture of their caseload and focus on groups of students who need assistance first—for example, those who have built a schedule but haven’t registered yet. They can also proactively reach out to students within the interface if a section closes and offer alternative options, encouraging them to stay on the path to enrollment.

“Civitas Learning’s Student Scheduling saves time during the course selection and registration process. With the extra time, I can assist students with finding a sense of belonging on campus and prompt discussion about their future career plans.”

— Matt Hill,
Senior Lead Advisor, College of Arts, Humanities, and Sciences, Jacksonville State University

Civitas Learning's Academic Planning Advisor Dashboard

The Outcome: Enrollment improves after adopting a student-centered scheduling experience

With Civitas Learning’s student-centered scheduling and registration, Jax State’s enrollment experience has significantly improved. This improvement is especially notable compared to their previous process of navigating multiple platforms and waiting to resolve registration issues. The solution alleviates the panic of quickly responding to students’ emails and opens space for more meaningful conversations and tailored outreach. 

Completing the entire process in one interface with clear, consistent messaging has empowered students to take the process into their own hands. It has already resulted in noticeable improvements in student outcomes, including:

  • An enrollment increase of .07% from Fall 2022 to Fall 2023, the highest in Jax State’s history.
  • After dipping in 2020, retention rates have increased by 2% 
  • Added time and effectiveness of student-advisor meetings

For more information on how student-centered scheduling and registration improves outcomes, check out Civitas Learning’s solution here.

Create a Simplfied Registration Experience

Learn how Civitas Learning's Academic Planning and Student Scheduling solution can streamline the registration experience and remove barriers to completion.
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