Students on campus

Campus Makes Efforts to Encourage Fuller Course Loads

One hundred thirteen more undergraduate students are taking 15 credit hours or more this semester compared to spring 2007, thanks to initiatives taken by the Enrollment Management and Registrar’s offices.

“Getting more students to take a full load of classes is always in the forefront of any enrollment management professional’s mind,” said Mark Petrie, associate vice president for enrollment management. “The more registered credit hours, the more dollars available to Buffalo State via the state support model.”

But Petrie is quick to point out that the positive effects reach far beyond budget dollars. Calling his office’s amplified communication efforts the “right thing to do,” he said that full course loads increase overall retention and graduation rates—in turn, improving Buffalo State’s competitiveness among local colleges.

The increase in full-time students this spring comes despite a 227-student drop in enrollment at the beginning of the 2007–2008 academic year. The decline spurred Enrollment Management to take quick action.

Working together with Registrar Mark Bausili, Petrie realized the college needed to create a paradigm shift. “I think there was a misconception that having students take 12 credit hours would help them persist academically and maintain full-time status from a financial aid standpoint,” he said. “But students and faculty who believed in this concept may not realize that, more often than not, it hurts down the road.”

Through targeted messages during November through January via e-mail, the student Web page, and the Daily, Enrollment Management discussed the importance of graduating on time by taking 15 credit hours, shared a list of 10 reasons why students do not graduate, and alerted students about online courses to boost overall credit hours. Enrollment Management also asked department secretaries to spread the word about the messages posted to the student Web site.

“One of the points we wanted to communicate was that if you register for 15 or 18 credit hours, you don’t pay any more money than you would for 12 credit hours,” said Bausili. “That’s a benefit to students.”

Petrie said student success drives the overall success of Buffalo State. He plans to continue steady communication about the importance of taking full class loads.

“The more students we retain, the more dollars we have available to provide additional and better services in the future,” he said. “Our challenge is to get the campus to understand that student direction and success has a direct impact on our ability to provide services. Enrollment does affect everyone.”

If student success were not already the driving factor in encouraging fuller class loads, retention would be at the top of the list, said Bausili.

“Our region is expecting a 17 percent decline in high school students over the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s as important as ever that we be proactive in retaining our students.”