Continuing Education

Seattle Colleges Continuing Education Programs Pool Enrollment

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Some changes are happening in Continuing Education.

In the spring of 2017, the Seattle College district’s new Chancellor established a vision to strengthen the identity of the three colleges: North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, and South Seattle College, as a more integrated and collective unit. As noted on the Seattle Colleges website, “Although each of our institutions has unique strengths and specialized programs, they all share the same commitment: transforming lives, bridging opportunity gaps, and fulfilling community needs.”

Emboldened by this mandate, the three district Continuing Education (CE) programs took a close look at the communities they serve and the many areas of overlap in their course offerings. “We had successfully been sharing enrollments for our Basic Carpentry and Woodworking class for several years,” say North Seattle College Continuing Education Director, Christy Isaacson.  “Each college registered students for the same class resulting in one roster comprised of students from all three Continuing Education programs. Using the Basic Carpentry and Woodworking class as our model, we began to identify new classes that could be pooled.”

Central, North and South’s CE programs have always been attentive to one another’s efforts to improve policies and procedures, and have begun working together to offer the best in lifelong learning opportunities. “During my five years as Director of Continuing Education at North Seattle College, I’ve frequently collaborated with my colleagues from Central and ImageSouth,” says Isaacson. “However, in response to the Chancellor’s proposed vision of more integration, we saw an opportunity to work together in new ways. One strategy was to begin cross-promoting classes from the other colleges to expand and emphasize our identity as part of the Seattle College district.”

Isaacson says since adding classes from Central and South to North’s course catalog, she has seen numerous benefits for the program and students. “For example, in the summer quarter several of our art instructors decide to take a break from teaching,” she says. “In summer 2017, we decided to list Drawing and Sketching which was being offered at Central. We promoted the class in our catalog and other marketing efforts to students in the north end of Seattle. Nine registered for the class through us, but attended class at Central’s campus in Capitol Hill! They had the opportunity to take a drawing class and experience learning at a new location that they might not otherwise have considered if we hadn’t offered it in collaboration with Seattle Central’s CE program. For the CE programs, this approach of combining enrollments for a class allows us to minimize class cancellations due to low enrollment. If each college is adding students to one roster, the odds of having sufficient enrollment to run increases.”

Continuing Education’s developing pooled enrollment model is not simply a means to bolster registrations, but enrich the community.  “The Chancellor has talked about the power of the collective story the three colleges as the Seattle College district share in shaping and transforming the lives of people in Seattle,” says Isaacson.  “Our Continuing Education programs can now contribute to that narrative. When students receive a CE catalog in the mail, they will see classes offered throughout Seattle. Students registering at North may be traveling to Capitol Hill and West Seattle, possibly visiting our sister college campuses for the first time. We're helping to blur the differences and perceived boundaries of our colleges through more integration.”

To help better identify their pooled enrollment classes, North has begun using a new graphic Imageto help distinguish classes their print catalogs. It is a simple but effective change in formatting that will help cut down on confusion over class locations, and help students negotiate travel time.

In sharing enrollment, all programs are taking a close look at best practices for success, not to mention classes in demand. “The wine and spirits classes are definitely popular!” says Isaacson.  “I think it's a combination of factors. It's the subject, yes. But also because these classes are typically only one evening, then committing to travel out of the neighborhood to attend is a little easier.  We continue to experiment with different types of classes.”

Sharing Continuing Education enrollment across the District has proven to be of benefit to students and programs alike. Please explore our current course offerings and discover for yourself how more can indeed be merrier.

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