It's been happening all summer. Schools announce their reopening plans, and with them, changes to their academic calendars. Combined with revised guidance regarding standard term length, and you have the perfect opportunity to make major changes.
Because the options are seemingly endless, and still relatively new, schools often struggle with how to implement new — and continually changing — calendar structures. Mary Sommers, director of financial aid at the University of Nebraska-Kearney and independent consultant with Blue Icon, observed that "academic leaders are really getting creative in thinking about academic calendar changes."
"I'm seeing non-standard term elements at very traditional campuses," she added.
Marvin Smith, executive director of student financial services at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, advocates for including the registrar in any academic calendar changes.
"They need to understand the guidance and options as much as the financial aid office," he said.
Software functionality and setup may also limit a school's ability to adjust term start and end dates, which can affect awarding, attendance monitoring, disbursement, and enrollment reporting.
According to the American Council on Education, 63% of college presidents are developing more than one enrollment scenario. As a result, schools may be adopting a "wait and see" approach, which can conflict with enrollment management initiatives to award aid early.
The continual changes to guidance and options being considered by institutions is new territory for many leaders. Financial aid and enrollment professionals need a platform to talk about best practices while they work to support their institutions in making changes to academic delivery in a much shorter than normal timeframe. Blue Icon Advisors will continue offering "Let's Talk" networking opportunities through 2020-21 to discuss academic calendars, and other topics. View the latest dates and session topics to find an opportunity to join the discussion.
What would you add to the discussion as your own questions, challenges, and lessons learned about academic calendars?
If you don't know where to begin, visit NASFAA's COVID-19 Web Center for the latest updates. NASFAA will also host a webinar in September — "Foundations of Academic Calendars" — that will discuss concepts that will help inform your conversations and choices about program structure. Blue Icon will host a Let's Talk session on September 24 to continue the conversation about this topic. Blue Icon Advisors can also assist with custom consulting solutions to help with your academic calendar questions. Contact us to learn more.
Publication Date: 9/14/2020