Back in 2016, the median amount of time it took a student to complete a bachelor’s degree was 52 months. More than 12 percent of students took longer than 120 months. And that was before the pandemic.
Even before Zoom fatigue was a thing, students’ college pathways were rarely straight. Students might have been forced to pull back on their degree program for personal reasons, getting off-schedule for course offerings. It was also common for students to realize they had one forgotten requirement a semester before graduation. And often, the weight of juggling a job, sports, and course work can test even the most adept student’s time management skills. Accommodating those needs often required a lot of work from faculty, advisors, and student support centers, if they were able to accommodate them at all.
Worldwide pandemic or not, students’ lives will continue to be complicated, making accommodations more necessary for schools in order to help students stay on their graduation path. Online courses, like those available from TEL Education, can make those accommodations more feasible for faculty and staff. Flexible pacing, no minimum enrollments, and proactive student support help your students juggle their multiple priorities and successfully complete their degree on time.
1. Flexible Pacing and Scheduling
When a major event happens, like a pandemic, schools have to get creative with how they keep students on track. We’ve seen schools turn their schedules upside down looking for ways to provide instruction time for students while also keeping everyone safe.
Being flexible used to come with a cost, such as online courses ineffectively cobbled together from a course designed to be in-person or faculty scrambling to update their pacing when shifting from a 12-week MWF course to a 6-week MTWTF course.
With pre-built online courses, however, faculty can jump right in without the stress of re-creating the course. These courses are built to be online first, so they take advantage of the delivery model by incorporating a variety of resource and assessment types.
This flexibility allows administrators to provide more options for course terms to fit unusual circumstances. Mini-mesters, courses that run during a four or six-week holiday break or over the summer, can now be easier to launch without overloading faculty or redesigning the course. These options provide more opportunities for students to complete their degree program without adding more work to already overloaded faculty.
2. Layered Support
College is hard work. When students are juggling course work, sports, a job, and family obligations, it can be difficult to stay focused and on track. Sure, students have access to student success centers and tutoring options, but few students actually use tutoring services even when it’s free. It’s just one more thing to add to a very full plate.
At TEL, the layered support is built into the course so students don’t have to go anywhere else in order to access it. Active instructors hold regular office hours to help students with specific content questions and an extensive FAQ and chat option are on every page of the course.
But the most effective support tool is our Student Coaches. They are available for any student in a TEL course to contact for study tips and advice around preparing for an assignment, and also reach out proactively when they see students losing momentum. After thousands of enrollments through our courses over the years, we’ve learned where students typically struggle, or what behaviors tend to make students lose motivation. Using this information, Student Coaches can reach out to students when they see a student about to tackle a tricky assignment or when they notice a student is falling behind.
When students are overwhelmed, sometimes it’s just nice to know that someone is looking out for them, excited to see them succeed.
3. No Minimum Enrollments
Each student has a unique pathway to their degree. From transfer credit to prior learning to breaks in their academic career, each student has different circumstances that affect their progress. Because of that, schools can’t rely on the standard degree path if they want all their students to be successful.
With online courses through TEL, there are no minimum enrollment requirements so schools can provide more options for individual students. A course can run with a single student. One of our partners, Independence Community College in Kansas ran into this issue. They had nine students who needed Chemistry for the fall semester. Nine was not enough to open another section of the lab science, so they turned to TEL. Without minimum enrollments, Independence Community College’s nine students were able to complete their Chemistry course and stay on track with their degree program.
We’ve also talked with schools that have run into issues with students preparing to graduate and realizing at the last minute that they missed a basic requirement. With flexible pacing options, online courses through TEL can help individual students meet their graduation requirements.
More Options, Less Stress
Higher education institutions want their students to graduate and they are often bending over backward to help motivated students stay on track. But all of that back-bending often comes with additional stress on faculty and staff as well as additional costs. Using an online course platform like TEL Education can give your school more flexibility to provide additional options for students without adding stress.
Want to learn more about TEL Education’s courses and how they can help your college or university? Reach out to us for a demo of our platform.