Harold’s Got Numbers

“If you’ve got numbers, show ’em.” Stephan James, former Chief Operating Officer of Accenture, would offer this bon mot to partners at the firm to encourage us to showcase good results.

Harold’s got numbers.

I have reported here on our challenges in serving students well during registration. We had a humbling Fall experience with registration. One survey showed that 20% of the students who entered our building to register left in frustration without enrolling at Harold Washington College. This was an improvement from right before my start at the College, when 33% of our students thought their registration experience was far below their expectations (on a five-point scale where far exceeded is the best and far below the worst.)

In response, we launched a “Registration Re-Think.” We gathered employees from various disciplines to re-think every aspect of registration. As a result, we implemented a number of changes to the process. We revamped our website to guide students from the start based on where they were starting from – new to college, new to CCC but with some previous experience, students who have already attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, and our returning students. We then aligned our internal processes with the web site so that every student entering the college received a color-coded page reflecting their status.

We set up a welcome center right off of our lobby to help direct students correctly. We implemented interventions to help those students who were feeling particularly stressed during registration. Our employees started wearing name badges so that students could readily find who worked for the College. We set deadlines that we stuck to on when we would accept new students, and directed those students who arrived after the deadline to one of our sister colleges, who had more classes available for our students. Administrators pitched in, rotating welcome desk duty and learning first-hand the challenges our clerical and professional employees face during registration.

The results are in. Students’ satisfaction with HWC’s registration processes has dramatically improved. Sixty-two percent of our students said that registration far exceeded or exceeded their expectations. Only six percent said that registration was below or far below their expectations. These results place us firmly in the middle of satisfaction results of the City Colleges. Even more gratifying is the volume of positive comments from students, especially returning students, who commented on how they wish registration had been like this when they started with us.

We are not complacent. Summer and Fall registration quickly approaches, and Fall registration  is a particularly challenging time. I want more of our students feeling that their registration experience far exceeds their expectations, but we will have to continue to improve to make that happen. We tried some things that didn’t work, like extending our Thursday evening hours to accommodate working students. We gathered feedback from everyone involved, and we are in the process of implementing further changes to improve our students’ experiences.

Until then, I want to thank the staff and faculty at HWC who delivered these results. This was a team effort, and the team demonstrated excellence.

Published by Don Laackman

Leader with higher education, non-profit and private-sector consulting experience.

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