Each spring, colleges try new approaches to get the students they have admitted to enroll. A few colleges enroll most of the students they admit, but most colleges struggle a bit and only enroll a minority of those students.
Loyola University of New Orleans This year is attempting a new approach: letting certain admitted students take a three-credit course for free. The approach represents a belief that nothing is better to sell Loyola than the experience of studying with a professor there.
Sarah Kelly, senior vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, is leading the effort. And she based it on a program she ran at Saint Michael’s College of Vermont before coming to Loyola. In Saint Michael’s, the average performance of students who participated in the program was 70 percent. Although this approach has become common in online and for-profit higher education, it is less so in non-profit higher education.
“The idea is’ what if we let the kids kick the tire?” she said.
She says she was prompted to launch the program this year by changes in the nationwide admissions scene, particularly the National Association for College Admission Counseling removing rules that many saw as protecting students, but which the Department of Justice considered to be violations of antitrust rules. “How do you get students to enroll? Is the question.
The specially designed three-credit courses are How to Make Money, Design Thinking, History of New Orleans, and Evolution of Public Performance in New Orleans.
Only newly admitted students can enroll and the professors have been specially selected by the university as ideal teachers for new students.
Classes are hybrid – students meet in person once at the start of the course, then take the rest of the course online. And therefore, the program is only open to those in New Orleans. Sixty-two students have registered. (At Saint Michael’s, the program was completely online and participation was not limited to local students, but far fewer students from the area were admitted.)
“We thought who better than family in our backyard to start with,” Kelly said, noting that the program could be expanded in the future. And she also noted that Loyola’s recent financial struggles are well known in New Orleans. “Your neighbors know when your lawn needs to be mowed.”
Loyola does not have an advance ruling, so anyone who is admitted in time to start classes this semester may or may not register.
The course is even transferable to other institutions, for a fee of $ 1,000.
“What we really want to emphasize is that this is an authentic college course,” Kelly said. Students get credits for free, but they also have to do the work while most are still in high school.
The only exception is that students can withdraw from the course at any time. Loyola felt he needed to offer this to students to encourage them to enroll in the course.
Justin A. Nystrom, professor of history, teaches the New Orleans history class.
“I write about the city and have published a few books on the subject, so I thought I would give them a taste of some deep expertise in the field.”
The program says, “Learn about the history of New Orleans and you will receive very different interpretations of what it is, usually in the form of stories that use creative fictions to distort historical realities. This course will invite you to challenge these mythologies by unpacking the motivations that have kept such stories alive. Our material will encourage you to think critically about tangible issues affecting the House of Loyola from around 1650, when it was only a concept, until the end of the 20th century, including the, and the factors geographic areas that have shaped who we are. Along the way, we will hear voices that have been under-represented for too long. Finally, we will explore the factors that lead to a common tendency to view New Orleans as “unique” and therefore exceptional by considering the many ways in which it is representative, and therefore universal. “
Nystrom said he “was trying to get them to think differently and critically about a place where most of them have lived their entire lives.”
The course currently has nine students, “which is less than in a normal class but it’s good because I can give them more attention.”
He has one student in the course taking four advanced placement courses.
Nystrom said the first in-person session was helpful. “I’ve taught hybrid courses that were part online, part in person, and they are always more dynamic in peer interaction than those that are 100% online.”
The course has only just started, but Nystrom said the students “seemed more motivated than most.”
“Most of the students seem academically ready for college,” he said. “But the material they are using is new and they seem excited about it. It is still one of the great joys of teaching freshmen.”