Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More Feedback Please

This is a continuation of my previous blog that focused on your experiences with Charter Oak. We received some interesting and useful student feedback about courses, enrollment processes, and lots more. So I am encouraged.

I want to dig into your experience with our Fall 2013 courses. We have noticed that interest in our fifteen week courses is declining while our eight week offerings continue to grow in popularity. As a result, we are developing mostly eight week courses, leaving the longer format for those courses that require a longer learning curve. Please tell us why you are choosing the eight week format. How does this format serve your needs better than longer (or shorter) courses?

Next, we have also noticed that many of you were pre-registered for this semester, but at the deadline, you did not complete your paid registration. We know that adult students do not pay for their courses until the last minute, presumably because family money for your education must wait until the family expenses are covered. So we get that. But for those of you who did not finalize your Fall registrations, even at the very last minute, please let us know why not. What changed? What can we do to help?

And finally, we have been working hard throughout the entire College - Admissions, Advising, Registrar's office, and the Business Office - to better coordinate our outreach to you through the registration process. We have reviewed our outgoing messages, coordinated their content, and tweaked their timing; we have compiled "must call" lists and assigned those calls; and we have tracked the whole process. So now is a good moment to ask how we did with reminding you about registration, prompting you to meet deadlines, and working with you to make sure your course selections met your Plan of Study. Please let me know your thoughts about our process so we can do a better job of meeting your needs.

As always, I love hearing from you, even with criticisms. We are committed to being the best adult serving College out there, and only you can help us become that.


  1. I choose the 8 week format because it allows me to take more classes, which A) means I graduate in a shorter time frame and B) allows me essentially be a full-time student while I'm working full-time, which C) helps me get more financial aid, thereby making my education more affordable. I do think some classes probably benefit from a longer time-frame, though, and I may do that in coming semesters.

    I think you need to add a prompt for students to get vouchers for books - generally speaking, by the time I'm buying books, the time to get a voucher has ended. I would welcome a reminder mid-term, since I usually don't think about the next term until after I'm over the hump!

  2. Hi Ed, I have thoughts on the favoritism of 8 week classes versus others. There are several variations and reasons as to why the 8 week classes are more appealing. It centers around workload and the ability to complete the most classes in the shortest period of time without putting to heavy a school workload on a person who is balancing, school, work and family. The eight week classes allow this balance and the ability to take more classes in a shorter of period of time with a more manageable workload. I am curious what is the ratio of men versus women who prefer the 8 week classes? best regards, Lisa G. Wildman (proud to be a COSC Alumni)

  3. I actually prefer the flexibility of being able to chose some 8 week courses as well as 15 week courses. This semester, I took one 15 week course along with two 8 week courses so that I was only taking two courses at a time. Being an adult learner and trying to maintain full time employment, this allows me to be at 3/4 time status. I would not be able to dedicate sufficient time to my studies if I didn't intentionally plan my semesters this way.
    If the majority of courses offered were only offered in 8 week sessions, I would only be able to take two courses each semester, which would be 1/2 time status. The impact this would have is potentially reaching the point of exceeding 150% of the time allowed to receive Title IV funding and possibly make it difficult for me to be able to afford to complete my degree. I wonder how this might impact other students who may or may not be aware of this.

  4. One thing that I love about Charter Oak is the ability to use testing for credit. It would be nice, however, if there were more resources from Charter Oak to help prepare for those tests. This could mean anything from a discussion board to recommended study material to even a staff member that could answer questions about the tests.

  5. Thank you all for these wonderful suggestions. Lisa, I will look into the gender mix. Dustin, we are working with the US Department of Education to try and get financial aid dollars to apply to Testing. In the meantime, we will look into additional test prep resources. Nancy, I hear you, and I will relay this need for both options to the team.

    To those lurking, please keep the comments and suggestions coming.


  6. I think testing out of some of the courses needed to complete your degree is a wonderful option. It isn't a very new option but it has started gaining much more acceptance among different universities. For instance, at one time the University of Texas at Austin did not allow CLEP testing, they now offer and accept a few exams.Charter Oak has the largest limit on the number of credits by exam you may achieve, where others have a smaller limit. As for study material for these exams, check out, they offer video courses that prepare you for some of these exams and the best part is its free! Perhaps Charter Oak could partner with them in some way if that was even possible. I am looking forward to hopefully being able to complete by degree in time for graduation in the spring!

  7. The reason the 8 week course appeals to me is because I find it makes the best use of my time. I find that I can take 1 course at a time and focus on only that course's material. Once the course is over, I move on to the next 8 week course. This format has helped me to complete my college education quicker, while simultaneously receiving a quality education.

  8. I thought of one additional item that has been a bit of a pain so I thought I'd share since you're looking for ways to improve. I, like many other Charter Oak students, am an adult learner who has been in the business world for many years. Some courses I'm looking to take are requiring prerequisites that should be easy to get waived, but the process has not been simple.

    I tried to register for a business course (after 25 years in the business) and it wouldn't let me because I didn't have enough English credits. I ended up registering myself for a CLEP to prove that I was capable, but it would have been helpful to be able to have someone to appeal to for a waiver. I was told when I did reach out that I had to take another communication course (ENG) or a CLEP test to be admitted to the class. I know other places do allow you to appeal a special situation and get approved to take a class, waiving a prerequisite. Anyway, thanks for being open to constructive feedback!

  9. I am taking 8 week classes because like others I want to be able to take one at a time but still be considered a part time student, eligible for student aid. However, reading another post above, I do see some benefit to adding a 15 week as well so that I can have two at a time, but one being a 15 week should be less 'intense' so I can see that helping me to complete my degree more quickly and become eligible for more aid potentially.

    One thing I would like to provide feedback on is the need for some type of online 'lecture' course. I have taken a lot of online courses, some of which offered a set time for all students to log in and get a live lecture over the computer, with presentations, ability to ask questions, etc. A recent class I took was International Business and I could definitely see how something like that could have benefited me rather than only reading through chapters and trying to absorb it all without hearing things and contributing to active discussions. While I know the message boards are good, it's not interactive in the same way that a lecture 'room' would be. Hope you will consider this as an option some day.

  10. Hello,

    Here's my opinion on the matter.

    For starters, the 8-week courses are not equivalent to the 15-week ones in terms of workload. Maybe they share the same abstract concept of 'SLOs', but a 15-week course has more work than an 8-week course, and often more reading, more papers and more exams. In some sort-of game of cost-benefit analysis, you're always better off with the 8-week course. I don't always follow this rule -- if both an 8 or a 15 week are offered I compare the syllabi. For a lot of electives I prefer the 15 weeks -- you learn more.

    As someone else mentioned, financial determines your status (1/2 time 3/4 time or fulltime? I forget) which in turn determines your award package by credits attempted. It is easier to attempt fewer credits at a time (i.e. be full-time by taking two back-to-back 8-week courses rather than four 15-week ones) because you're not taking the courses at the same time.

  11. Thanks for your feedback. Keep it coming.

    Austin, an 8 week course and a 15 week course are worth the same number of credits (typically 3). The only difference is the compression of the work.