Aligning Enrollment Processes Across CTE Programs
Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) is an HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) and AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander–Serving Institution) suburban community college in California. Beginning in 2021, Mt. SAC began an effort to simplify and align the enrollment process for the 5 areas within the college’s School of Continuing Education (SCE) department. The goal was to remove any unnecessary steps and ensure SCE students have a consistent experience no matter which SCE program they enroll in. The department offers short-term vocational training, English as Second Language programs, adult basic education, and more.
Mt. SAC began by mapping all the steps in the enrollment processes across the five SCE areas to identify opportunities for simplification and alignment. As the new aligned process emerged from this work, the college applied behavioral design principles to ensure the process minimized obstacles for students and messaging to students provided action-oriented nudges along the way. They paired this work with a redesign of the SCE webpages to make it easier for students to enroll online with minimal support, allowing enrollment staff to dedicate more time to students who need deeper support.
- Students are more likely to successfully move through the enrollment process when the number of steps are minimal & messages sent throughout the process are kept short and action-oriented.
- Placing greater emphasis in the enrollment process on learning about students’ past academic experiences, family & work responsibilities, and academic-adjacent support needs provides insights you can act on to support students early on.
- Adults come to college with a variety of past academic & life experiences, yet they are all seeking to define the future they desire. Colleges can be vocal in supporting this journey, so students know they are not defined by their past.
Students/graduates of a program may be interested in enrolling in a program in another area. Collaborating across departments & program areas can surface alignment opportunities missed by one department working independently.
Mt. SAC benefited from feedback on their old website from an external source. Fresh eyes, whether from a professional or layperson, can bring new perspectives to the work to inform your change efforts.
Even if adult learners are eager to enroll, many obstacles may still lie on their path to class. Colleges should always take responsibility for taking steps to minimize—or support students through—these challenges.
Increase in the number of learners over 25 enrolling in non-credit programs from fall 2020 to fall 2022. This includes an increase of 1,355 Asian students, 699 Latinx students, and 50 Black/African American students.
- Mt. SAC tracks data through the website to see where students may still be getting stuck in the new enrollment process. These data, along with student feedback, will be used to continue to refine the process and enhance the website.
- Mt. SAC’s SCE began sharing their lessons learned with academic programs in 2022. This collaboration continues to strengthen as the college looks to serve adult learners more effectively college-wide.