Credit: Thinkstock/iStock

Students Start Off on Right Foot with Extreme Registration

By Reyna Gobel

How one community college district uses the registration rush to get students in the door and on the right academic path.

You know about registration — that familiar time when students jockey for course sections right before classes begin. But have you heard of Extreme Registration?

The concept, pioneered by administrators at State Center Community College District, in California, leverages the busy registration period to connect students with more than just classes. In addition to traditional in-person and online registration services, students have an opportunity to meet with academic advisers, financial aid experts and other college staff. Students can take learning assessments, ask questions about tuition and billing and get to know their classmates.

Proponents say the program, offered at each of the district’s five campuses, ensures that students head into the first day of classes free of unnecessary distractions and ready to focus on the business of learning.

How it works: Each college contacts students to let them know that the Extreme Registration period is approaching. Postcards are distributed to attract new students, and administrators begin by estimating how many students will attend the event.

As students arrive on campus, they’re directed to a welcome desk, where a college representative reviews each student’s academic status, including checking to see whether all assessments and applications needed for full admittance have been completed. Students are also told whether they have outstanding bills. Students transferring from another college can choose to evaluate whether any of their current credits can be applied to their academic degree or certificate.

After the initial consultation, each student moves on to a specific station for additional help.

Getting help: Admission, registration and financial aid are handled on a individual basis; advising takes place in groups of six or more students. Administrators say the group approach allows the college to pack more into a single day and provides an opportunity for students to learn from one another, an advantage that cannot be gained online.

“When you have the personal touch, all your questions can be answered,” Lucy Ruiz, public information officer at Reedley College, says. “High school students aren’t used to all the steps involved in college registration. If only registering online, they may not pick the right courses for their major or duplicate a class for which they’ve already earned advanced-placement credit.”

With Extreme Registration, students can get their questions answered on the spot and determine how much help they need.

Considering a similar approach at your college? Ruiz offers these eight tips:

  1. Don’t hold Extreme Registration events too close to final registration: Students may need to come back for a second day of assessment testing or for a one-on-one advising appointment.
  2. Estimate how many students are potentially interested in the service by tracking previous in-person and online registrations from previous semesters. Get a potential head count, so you know how to staff the program.
  3. Cross-train employees so one person can serve at multiple stations.
  4. Get buy-in from participating campuses and departments. Branding is important. A marketing committee should decide on a single theme for posters and associated material.
  5. Plan several months in advance. And don’t forget to reserve a large room on campus for the day of the event.
  6. Since the event will likely take place during the summer, expect to call in staff not currently on duty.
  7. Don’t have a hard stop. At Reedley College, Extreme Registration is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but staff have been known to stay until 7 p.m. Consider hosting weeknight and weekend sessions so students can make time to attend.
  8. Conduct a survey following the event to determine where you need to improve for next year.

Have additional suggestions for using the registration period to help students get off on the right foot? Tell us in the Comments.

Reyna Gobel

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.

You May Also Like