Consider this: Bard LLI has about 350 members and each member can participate in as many courses and events as wanted. The Registration Team is responsible for accurately tracking members’ choices (which is constantly changing as members register and drop courses).
In addition to course registrations, LLI needs to keep members’ data around contact information, payment history, memberships, and course information. If you have ever lost your Zoom link, the tech help group uses registration data to find it!
In order to support course registration, LLI also maintains a digital catalog to provide easy access to upcoming courses and events. The catalog has to be accurate, and in addition to course descriptions, includes course limits, room numbers, links to building locations, and schedules. All of these things tend to change, often at the last minute.
When you get instructions on how to register for courses each semester, thank a volunteer on the registration team.
This is quite a big database problem (we use ProClass as our registration software). Can you imagine doing all of this manually? Or with spreadsheets? LLI could not grow and service members without registration.
Each July, members renew their memberships and pay with a credit card. New members are admitted through a lottery based on the number of open slots at LLI and then these new members have to submit payment before they can register for courses. Imagine keeping track of all of this accurately with only spreadsheets. It would take hours and hours of volunteer support time. Through the efforts of the registration team, much of the tedious, manual, clerical effort has been eliminated.
To learn more, contact [email protected].
What do we do?
The chair works with the software vendor to meet LLI requirements (e.g., only paid members can attend our courses, there are course limits, and registration for oversubscribed courses is done first come, first served.)
The chair also coordinates the efforts of the registration team and provides training to LLI members on how to use ProClass (through videos, emails, and text directions).
New initiatives proposed to Council are often first evaluated by the registration chair to see how they can best be met. For example, the recent Bard requirement for everyone entering a campus building to be fully vaccinated started with data from the registration software.
Messaging and Training
Members often receive email messages about registration dates and how to register.
Each message is designed to be clear and succinct and to help members complete the steps needed to register for a course or event. These messages have to be written, approved by the Communications Team, and then sent to members.
There is also a fair amount of training on ProClass. You might have taken advantage of the QuickStart videos on the LLI website, showing you how to update your data, drop a course, or other functions of the ProClass front end.
The back end of ProClass is used by volunteers to lookup data. That also requires some training, sometimes over Zoom, by video, or through written instructions.
Once the catalog is edited, the digital catalog is assembled. Each offered course can be thought of as pieces of a puzzle that come together and are displayed in a consistent format:
- Course title
- Course description
- Presenter biographies
- Course support pictures
- Schedule and dates
- Maps to Bard buildings.
Last-minute changes beyond our control are a fact of life at LLI. The team is constantly updating our catalog(s) so that members have the most current information.
Because ProClass is the source of all data regarding members, applications, courses, attendance, payments, etc., this team is often asked to prepare special reports for specific needs, such as:
- Who needs disabled parking permits?
- What members have skills in a specific area and could possibly volunteer?
- Who has taken STEM courses recently and may be interested in a STEM program offered by Bard?
- Who were the presenters in a semester? They will typically receive thank you letters.
Each year in June, LLI members can renew their memberships with a credit card payment. Then in July, new members confirm their intention to join by submitting their credit card payments.
LLI volunteers work to ensure that everyone who submitted a payment did properly renew or start their membership. How would you feel if you submitted payment but your membership was not renewed? Suppose you mistakenly submitted two payments?
Registration is watching the activity around payments to make sure everything happens as planned. This is detailed-oriented work; members who had problems are contacted and refunds are made for duplicate payments.
Some of our long-time members remember when paper checks were mailed and then credited to member accounts. Some were missing (my check is in the mail!) and some members could not register for courses because of payment errors. Thank the registration volunteers for streamlining this process!
New Member Admittance
New member applications are collected mostly in June (but some people apply outside the application period). Bard LLI often has a limit on how many applicants can be admitted each year (have you noticed that campus parking is limited? That classrooms are small?).
A lottery system is used to offer admittance to new members; each applicant has an equal chance of being admitted. In some cases, there are priority admittances for non-member presenters of 7-week semesters and for applicants with special skills.
The admittance process involves quite a bit of tracking and data analysis. Only admitted applicants are allowed to purchase new memberships (renewed members simply renew their memberships).
Store and update LLI Data
Registration provides an efficient and fair registration experience for LLI members and applicants, obtains classroom assignments from Bard, and provides registration information and reports to other committees and Council members.