5 Features You Absolutely Need from Your Class Scheduling Software
Class scheduling tends to be one of the most tedious, time-consuming, and repetitive tasks for which a school’s registrar’s office is responsible. Because of that repetition and manual input, it also leaves far too much room for costly human errors.
Most class scheduling software falls short when it comes to increasing efficiency, reducing error, and making the lives of registrar professionals easier.
This is especially true in today’s reality where schools are shifting more toward online and hybrid learning, where the need for fast and accurate class scheduling is even higher.
Don’t settle for “good enough.” Here are 5 features you should look for in class scheduling software.
1. A Bulk Class Scheduler
A bulk scheduler gives you the ability to simultaneously schedule multiple students into one class.
This may seem like an obvious need for a registrar’s office, but it’s actually not a very common feature. Most software solutions are limited in that they only let you schedule one student at a time.
With a bulk scheduler, you’ll be able to schedule multiple students for a class with the click of a button, whether it’s 3 people or 30.
This feature is especially useful if you have more than one location or you’re offering classes online. For example, you might want to bulk schedule students from one geographic area together in one class. With a bulk scheduler, you can do it in a matter of minutes!
2. The Ability to Schedule Students for the Entire Academic Year
On the flip side of the bulk scheduler, you should also be able to schedule one student for multiple courses over an academic year.
Most solutions don’t allow that. They might let you bulk schedule a student for one term (and some don’t even let you do that!), but you’d have to start the process over for each term. In reality, you should be able to touch the student record once and schedule all the classes they need for the entire year.
This is way less time-consuming. Imagine if you could reduce the workload of your team by 60%. What effect would this have on your efficiency, profitability, and bottom line?
How could you instead use those hours and resources to improve your operations, grow your school, and improve employee satisfaction? The possibilities are very exciting to think about—you could effectively change the entire workflow of the registrar’s office.
You could even use some of the time you've won back to optimize your communication strategy. Here are 21 free higher ed templates to get you started, including messages from the registrar's office.
3. The Prevention of Overlapping Terms
In most class scheduling software solutions, you have to manually select the correct terms and classes for each student. When you think about dealing with thousands of students, dozens of courses, and multiple start dates, you can see how easy it would be to schedule students for overlapping terms. This is an especially common occurrence with re-entry students.
When this happens and you don’t have the correct term sequence, you’re not able to pull down financial aid. This is a big deal and you usually don’t even realize that it’s happening because the system never alerts you when there’s an issue.
Overlapping terms can lead to misbilling students and incorrectly attributing revenue. You could end up with millions of dollars on hold while your cash flow comes to a halt. You could even have to do a massive amount of write-offs because of those financial records on hold.
It’s extremely tedious to correct but has to be done quickly because there’s a limited timeframe in which you can collect that revenue.
There should be NO possibility to have overlapping terms. The best software totally prevents this from ever happening with stopgaps and safety measures built into the product.
4. Easy Management of Prerequisite Courses
When you’re scheduling classes for so many students, it’s very easy to get into a rhythm while you’re navigating through the system. When this happens, you might ignore a pop-up or red text that warns about prerequisite courses needed.
Prerequisite violations happen way more frequently than they should. In fact, a class shouldn’t even be available to schedule if a prerequisite is still required.
That’s what the best class scheduling software does—make it impossible to create a violation.
You should have to take multiple, intentional steps to waive a prerequisite in order to schedule a class, including giving a reason or comment.
5. Transparency for Courses Needed in the Program
In most software programs, the courses needed within a program are generated in a schedule. But what happens when there are electives, substitutes, and other options?
Many solutions don’t handle these well, which requires that someone in the registrar’s office manage these manually, which can lead to human error.
The best class scheduling software will mark courses directly on the student record. If a student takes one course, it will flag the others to let you know the requirement has been satisfied. This level of visibility will help you see exactly which courses a student needs and make it impossible to make mistakes like under-scheduling students. When that happens, it means a student didn’t take all of their required courses (usually missing an elective) and now may not graduate on time because of a clerical error.
Equally as bad is when a student is overscheduled. For example, if they only needed one class and ended up taking two, they might run into a scenario in which they didn’t receive credit, spent hours on a course they didn’t need, were billed for the class, and maybe even drew down financial aid. On top of that, it probably took the place of a class they did need!
You can imagine the headaches these scenarios create, which is why it’s important to find class scheduling software that solves these challenges proactively and makes class scheduling easy. When it comes down to it, the best class scheduling software places two things above all else: efficiency and accuracy.