You can’t build on a shaky foundation. Nothing is more foundational to higher education institutions than getting the FTE dollars needed to keep the doors open. If an institution is top-ranked with world-class programs, it’s a safe bet that it also knows a thing or two about streamlining the processes necessary to ensure funding. Haywood Community College is a case in point.

Located in the mountains of Western North Carolina in the small town of Clyde, Haywood Community College (HCC) has taken pride in promoting lifelong student learning and success in Haywood County since its founding in 1965. A member of the North Carolina Community College System, HCC was named one of the top ten community colleges in the US in 2022 by SmartAsset. With over 50% of its courses online in some capacity and 7 associate degrees, 3 diplomas, and 15 certificate programs offered fully online, HCC meets its more than 1700 students where they are on their educational paths.

We were thrilled to sit down with HCC’s Director of Instructional Design and Online Learning  Cheryl Fulghum to learn more about how HCC handles a key administrative practice at the center of any thriving higher education institution: census enrollment.   

What Is Census Enrollment and Why Is It Important?

Higher education institutions like HCC are required by the Federal Government to take a “snapshot” of all student enrollment. That snapshot then becomes the official enrollment figures used for state and federal reporting and financial aid eligibility. This practice is often simply referred to as the 10% point, or  “census”  – and  in HCC’s case, a named census activity built into every course section. The census is a huge, non-negotiable responsibility from an auditing perspective. If a student doesn’t make the census, they don’t get counted and if they don’t get counted, the institution loses the FTE dollars associated with that student. 

Cheryl Fulghum and her team at HCC don’t take this responsibility lightly. 

“[We] stress this with our faculty: If  the student doesn’t complete our census activity, then we  have to teach them for free. […] We’ve worked hard to  lock all content down and restrict it to our census activity, so [students] can’t get to any other content until they complete it. . It’s been a process that’s been in the works for 15 years: first with a named census activity in each course, and then restricting the rest of the course to completion of that single activity.”

What has that process looked like? 

Census Enrollment Reporting Streamlined

For over 25 years HCC has collected census data through their “HOP (Haywood Online Participation) enrollment activity” – a brief 5-question attestation  that a student must complete for each course in which they are enrolled to gain access to that course’s content. The named census activity exists in every course’s LMS component. Once HCC made the census activity a specific named activity, they were able to promote its use across departments and it has become part of the College’s lexicon. For example “HOP due date” appears on the academic calendar viewable by student. This simple yet powerful practice familiarizes faculty, staff, and students with the name of the activity that must be done, prioritizes that activity, and makes each round of the HOP easily searchable within IntelliBoard reporting.

How the results of those HOP assignments are retrieved and compiled has changed over the years. 

“At first our departmental assistants went in and pulled from every class; that was way back. They sent it to the coordinator of instructional support who works in the VP [of Instruction’s] office. Then we did it where the VP of Instruction, that coordinator, could just pull them in bulk. That wasn’t a terrible system, but she still had to go in and download all that and then save it somewhere. Then when we transitioned to our registrar being responsible for those reports, I got with her and said, “Hey, if we do this through IntelliBoard, it’d be a lot easier and simpler.” And she loved that.”

Individually downloading each course’s HOP data from the native reporting inside HCC’s LMS with no outside support was no small feat. Fulghum knew that the IntelliBoard Learning Analytics Platform, in contrast, was an out-of-the-box solution that could quickly compile all of HCC’s HOP data into easy-to-read reports on demand. 

“That’s when I reached out to Amy [Price, IntelliBoard VP of Client Success] and she put me in touch with Ruslan [Styrchak, IntelliBoard Success Specialist + Lead Technician]. […] I remember I was working from home so that was during the lockdown COVID time. […] The fact that we could get that done. That you all worked with us to get that done and kept tweaking it until it was just like we needed it to be was huge.” 

We pride ourselves on client success and loved giving Fulghum and the HCC team the support they needed to streamline their HOP reporting. 

Agency Over The Data You Need

Now that HCC could easily find and compile HOP specific reports through IntelliBoard and pull them on demand, Fulghum worked with HCC’s registrar to transition the responsibility to her office.

“How I talk to people is [using IntelliBoard yourself] allows you to pull data when you need to. This is an agency thing. [The IntelliBoard Learning Analytics Platform] gives you agency over the data that you need. I’m just the middle man and helping make it happen.”

Having agency over crucial data is empowering as well as a huge time saver. Giving the registrar the autonomy to pull the HOP reports with IntelliBoard also meant less administrative burden on instructors. Fulghum could simply include information on how instructors could remind students to fill out their HOP assignments in the census enrollment packet given to the faculty without adding more strenuous administrative tasks to their plates. 

What’s Next for Haywood CC and IntelliBoard

Fulghum and HCC have big plans for rolling out more of IntelliBoard’s capabilities.

“[The IntelliBoard Learning Analytics Platform] is gold to me. We don’t have our faculty looking at IntelliBoard yet. […] The census was such a need and getting that in the registrar’s hands was a need. […] My next thing is to begin pulling data for program managers and deans and configuring some reports that will really be useful.”

Since HCC has not only handled but streamlined the process of securing the FTE dollars necessary to stay up and running, they have the time and resources freed up to build on their stellar programs. 

Thank you so much for sitting down with us, Cheryl! We feel so fortunate to learn from you and HCC. We look forward to watching the HCC community continue to thrive and being there with you every step of the way.

Are you interested in streamlining your census enrollment? Schedule a meeting with us or take advantage of our webinars. IntelliBoard is Learning Analytics for EVERYONE. We’d love to help you harness the power of your data.