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Innovating with Academic Calendars

By: Sandra Via-Ellington, Director, Partner Success

J.P. Palmares, Senior Manager, Partner Success

Published by Acadeum

As the enrollment cliff looms and the demand for more affordable degree programs increases, colleges and universities are faced with the challenge of supporting their traditional students while also expanding their reach to new learner populations. Typically, institutions rely on the traditional semester calendar to serve their learners. COVID, the increase in workforce demand, and the changing needs of students have demonstrated that the traditional semester calendar, while still relevant to some, does not meet the needs of the varying student populations that colleges and universities serve. As Insider Ed points out, academic calendars are places where schools can start innovating. Innovations in academic calendaring allow institutions to broaden their reach to new student populations and meet the demands of the changing higher education landscape. 

There are a variety of ways to innovate when it comes to academic calendars. Some institutions have enhanced the traditional semester calendar by adding in winter and summer terms, while others have adopted trimester calendars and block schedules to accelerate degree completion. However, institutions do not have to rely on just one type of calendar system.  A number of colleges and universities are adopting multiple calendars to accommodate different learners’ degree completion goals and financial needs. 

For example, Columbia College and Pillar College each run multiple academic calendars throughout the year to accommodate different students and programs. Pillar College uses multiple academic calendars to support traditional students, while offering options for accelerated degree and online programs. Pillar College has supported students in these programs through course sharing on the Acadeum network. Columbia College’s utilization of multiple and alternative academic calendars allows them to support students and post available course seats year-round on the Acadeum Course Share network.

To support diverse calendars and populations, institutions can tap into the power of the Acadeum Course Share network to facilitate institutional goals and priorities. By implementing a new or multiple calendar model, institutions increase their capacity to:

  1. Introduce new academic pathways and programs. New programs are often resource heavy and may include curriculum that does not fit within a traditional calendar model.  Acadeum can help institutions develop new, in-demand, low-investment programs that fit any calendar model. Learn more about Acadeum Program Share.
  1. Embed professional and workforce development certificates and microcredentials in academic programming. The flexibility of running multiple academic calendars allows students the opportunity to pursue workforce-aligned credentials outside of the traditional calendar window. Widening an institution’s academic offerings to provide industry-specific training and certifications is essential for the employability of graduates entering the workforce. Acadeum’s network allows students to achieve both required credits for their major and technical skill certifications while giving institutions the ability to align their courses with real-time industry demands and requirements. Read Maintaining a Competitive Edge in the Dynamic Higher Education Landscape to find out how Acadeum can assist you with embedding certificates and microcredentials into courses and programs at your institution.  
  1. Create accelerated academic programs. Many learners are looking for ways to move into the workforce at a faster pace. By implementing an academic calendar that allows students to pursue their degree year-round, students can achieve their educational goals more quickly. Through the Acadeum Course Share network, institutions can find courses to meet a student’s unique curricular needs at any time.  
  1. Add flexibility to student schedules and attract new populations of learners. Learners have varying backgrounds and responsibilities, as well as family and work obligations that sometimes prevent them from taking a course or completing a degree program using a traditional semester calendar and academic day. Offering online course options through the Acadeum network empowers institutions to create flexible course schedules for students that need to juggle external demands and academic goals.
  1. Apply financial aid. Varying academic calendars can support students who receive financial aid. Financial aid plays a pivotal role in facilitating students’ pursuit of higher education by easing the financial burden associated with obtaining a degree. By making education more affordable and attainable, financial aid promotes a student’s ability to focus on academic and personal growth, ultimately leading to increased graduation rates and a more educated workforce. In this way, financial aid is an indispensable tool in fostering educational equality and empowering students to earn their degrees.To learn more about alternative calendaring and financial aid, check out Acadeum’s webinar, Maximizing Financial Aid: Creating Pathways for Student Success.

By implementing new calendar innovations in collaboration with the Acadeum network, institutions can increase flexibility for traditional and nontraditional students, increase institutional efficiencies, consolidate and maximize institutional resources, and maintain institutional missions and strategic goals.

As the creator of the world’s largest course sharing network, the Acadeum team has a deep knowledge of what it takes to launch innovative curricular models across institution types. Our team can provide consultation and architect curricular solutions customized to your institutional needs.

https://www.insidehighered.com/opinion/views/2023/10/16/managing-other-enrollment-cliff-opinion#:~:text=By%20now%20we%20all%20know,ago%20and%20continues%20to%20decline

https://www.insidehighered.com/opinion/blogs/higher-ed-gamma/2023/10/12/can-colleges-adapt-todays-challenges