Monday, 13 September 2010

The required number of students

Argh! It has happened -- today I lost the brinkmanship game of adult education, for this term. The enrolments for it last week were at 50% of the required number. Today, Monday, it's the same -- sigh! My Line Manager rang with the news, and the choice: delay the course by 2-3 weeks, or put it off to a new start of term in January.

What would you do? The already-enrolled may not be able to do either delay. But then again they might. I'm geared up to teach... but can gear down.

A main problem -- the course is listed in print prospectus as November start. This could be a reason for low enrolment, but then the website was corrected early-on.

Manager says lots of enrolments are low, lots of classes closed or delayed. If we delay mine and my numbers still aren't made, it will still have to close, and the original enrolling students will have been mucked about twice.

My decision: January start. College will offer this, maybe we will carry through those already enrolled. ADVANTAGE: we can catch any print-prospectus customers who try to enrol for the (erroneous) November dates and direct them to enrol for January. AND the College, if running this and other courses as new listings, will be giving January courses an extra promotional boost.

Speaking of promotion, this is what I will do in December which I did not get round to doing in August -- see my blog on that under Promoting Your Course.

Meanwhile, per last week's prep, I did decide on a short story to use as illustration of character and structure. But I will make you wait til next week to learn which one.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your course being postponed. I got a voicemail today telling me that the one I had enrolled on which was to start tomorrow, has also been postponed until January because of lack of interest. I am gutted! I had just got my head into student-mode. I had re-planned my week to enable me time to study. Ever the optimist though, I will use the freed-up time to do some serious writing!

Helen Yendall said...

Really sorry to hear that - you must be really frustrated! And it's horrible to mess around those who've enrolled in good faith.
I think you're right that enrolments are down generally - that's the message I'm getting from me Adult Ed. college too. I don't know how many I've got for my course, due to start on 27th Sept. Fingers crossed. If I don't get enough to run it I will be kicking myself that I didn't promote it more but to be honest, in the September term the problem has usually been that we have too many! Maybe not this year...

Susan Lee said...

Thanks, Helen & Babs, for the sympathy, nay, empathy. Difficult times for adult ed. Annoying when one has got all rev'd up... but I trust the creative writing urge/need will never die, neither for students, nor adult ed, nor us. Yes -- we shall take this as a signal to get on with our own writing. Write on, Susan

Helen Yendall said...


The new term of my Creative Writing class started last night and I had a good number turn up.

I wasn’t sure how it would work but I decided to follow your book’s advice and gave them all a questionnaire to fill in and writing magazines to flick through while we got through the chaos of enrolment and late arrivals! Then, as you suggest, I asked them to bring their completed questionnaire up to me and I ‘rewarded’ them with a little chat and wrote their name on a name ‘tent’ for their desk. It worked really well! And definitely helped me remember everyone’s name and ‘welcome’ them all individually, so thank you! (I should never had doubted you!)

Then I did a couple of exercises that I’ve done myself – as a student and trainee on a PTTLS course this summer. Firstly, I asked each person to say their name and to tell the group something they wished they were brave enough to do. We had everything from ‘have a baby’ to ‘bungee jump’ or ‘ride across America’. I told them that, through Creative Writing, they could do all those things! (bit cheesy but it got their attention!)

Then, in groups of 4, I asked them to discuss their ‘expectations and concerns’ for the course. I find – perhaps you do too – that people come to Creative Writing courses with all kinds of misconceptions about what it is and what it can do for them. Getting someone from each ‘team’ to present their comments to the whole class – and allowing me to respond where appropriate – meant that we covered lots of ground in an interactive way (not just me lecturing!) AND I was able to reassure them and answer queries. I also got across an important point: the best way to learn is to WRITE! I also found myself explaining my own ‘expectations and concerns’ for the course! (which I hadn’t expected to do!). By coffee break (and we did some writing after that), the group was already gelling, laughing and chatting to each other. Definitely the best ‘first night’ I’ve ever had! Thought you might like to know!