Strong enrollment and student retention both begin with careful course planning. Ideally, student feedback and your own experience in prior courses will directly inform the planning process.
- Subject Matter: Is there a specific technique or an aspect of your discipline that seems particularly interesting to your students? If so, appeal directly to that interest next quarter! Work with the interests of your existing students to help define the direction of your future courses.
- Course Progression: If you’ve identified a strong subject interest among students, you might consider offering both an “Intro/Beginner” level course and a “Continuing/Advanced” level course which cater to that interest. If you offer only an Intro/Beginner level course or a workshop, students will take that course and move on; however, if you offer a progressive step for the same students, they will often return to your classes to further refine their skills. There are at least a couple ways to structure courses beyond the Intro level:
- Continuing: Offering a “Continuing” level course casts a wide net for students of various skill levels. A Continuing course appeals to students who have taken at least your Intro course, as well as to students who gained basic skills elsewhere. If you devote a portion of your Continuing classes to critique, you will help foster a social dimension to your courses and students will be able to develop their skills among a familiar cohort of artist peers. In addition, critique has the added benefit of scaling with a student’s skill level and catering to their own body of work, so students won’t feel that they’ve already mastered all the techniques and lessons a course might offer. Lastly, critique helps experienced students become acclimated to the social dimension of art-making, which builds creative self-confidence and resilience to criticism.
- 101, 201, 301: If your discipline involves well-defined levels of skill, you might consider offering “university style” course levels. This approach allows you to focus on specific skills at each level; it also encourages students to complete an entire series of courses representing increasing levels of mastery. (For example, if you teach in a performing arts discipline, you might consider structuring your courses to build basic and advanced skills in the 101 and 201 levels, then have students present a collaborative performance for family and friends in the 301 level.)
- Prerequisites: If your courses build sequentially, be sure to offer the required Intro level courses often! Alternatively, if you aren’t offering a full Intro course in a certain technique but you are teaching a more advanced course that requires those skills, consider offering a short “technical crash course” or Intro-level workshop prior to your advanced course that allows students to fulfill the advanced course’s prerequisites.
- The description included in your initial course proposal serves as the basis for that course’s description in The ArtsCenter’s marketing materials, including the course catalog and all online materials. The most effective course descriptions use language that is focused enough to allow students to imagine how they will be spending their time in class, but that doesn’t get bogged down in too much detail. Questions to consider: Is the description appealing? Does it describe the techniques and approaches taught in the course? Is the language used in the description commensurate with the level of experience required of potential students? Does the course compliment others being offered at The ArtSchool; does it address a demand for a technique or a discipline that’s not being met?
- Materials Lists and Fees: Making art can be expensive! Students will factor the cost of materials into the total cost of a course. Because The ArtSchool’s tuition structure is standardized by hour of class time, materials lists and fees represent the greatest source of potential variation in a student’s total cost for a class. Keeping materials lists and fees to a minimum ensures that students are not priced out of enrollment.
The ArtsCenter’s Marketing Department markets the ArtSchool program as a whole, in a print catalog, email newsletters, and on our website. Because the Marketing Department is responsible for marketing all The ArtsCenter’s programs, including concerts, AfterSchool programming, and ArtsCamp, the resources it can apply toward any one class are limited. For this reason, the most effective targeted marketing is what instructors do to generate interest in their classes.
How to spread the word:
- Personal Appeals: The most targeted marketing tools available to instructors are personal appeals made to current and former students. These students are already familiar with The ArtsCenter and have demonstrated a serious interest in your classes – otherwise, they wouldn’t be students! Appeal to them directly with opportunities to continue learning from you. Providing your students with info about your upcoming classes, specific dates, and links to course registration is the most effective marketing there is. This is also where course planning comes in: if your upcoming classes build directly from your current class, students are likely to sign up for the next step or re-enroll in another “Continuing” course in the same subject. Note: Each class has a minimum enrollment and is cancelled if it does not make its minimum (this policy ensures instructors are compensated fairly for their time). We must let enrolled students know whether a class will actually run with enough notice that they can make other plans if a class is cancelled. We try to give students 3 days’ notice about class cancellations. If students put off registering until the day before a class is scheduled to start, that may be too late. Cancelling classes is disappointing for everyone – when spreading the word about your upcoming classes, it helps to remind students that they shouldn’t put off registration!
- Community Appeals and Networking: Artists exist within communities of like-minded individuals and creative peers. Keep your peers updated with what you are teaching each quarter – they can help spread the word about learning opportunities, and they might decide to take a class with you!
- Flyer Distribution: Some instructors have had success designing and posting flyers announcing an upcoming class, or a series of classes. When designing flyers, remember to include dates along with info about how to enroll!
- Make sure to send your bio and a headshot and links to your website, socials etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can build your profile on The ArtsCenter’s Instructors page.
- The more that students can connect with you as an instructor the more likely they are to become repeat students.
Using your own social media platforms
- Having tools like your own website, Facebook / Twitter / Instagram, and email lists will make your marketing and ours more effective.
- Post the class on your website and link to our registration page.
- Send an email to your list to let them know about the class(es) you are teaching.
- Create a promotional image for your class, post it on your social media, and tag @artscenterlive and we will share it. You can also email promotional images for your class to email@example.com and we will post them on our socials as well.
- Instagram stories are the most-watched form of social media currently, so sharing info about your class as well as behind the scenes looks into what your class is like (and tagging @artscenterlive on your stories) is a great way to build excitement about your class.
Documenting your class
- If your students are comfortable having their work shared, images of student work are great for showing potential students the type of things they will be making.
- These are good for posting on your own platforms, and with you and the students’ consent we can include student work in our ArtSchool catalog and various promotions.
Gathering feedback from your students at the end of a course will help you plan future courses. Given the class sizes at The ArtSchool, it will be difficult to administer anonymous surveys. However, if you let your students know that are you interested in using their responses to improve your courses and cater to their interests, they might provide you with answers to the following survey questions:
- What parts of the class were the most enjoyable?
- What are the greatest strengths of the course?
- How could the course be improved?
- Is there a technique or approach used in this course that you would be interested in exploring further in a future course with the same instructor?
- Are there techniques or approaches outside the scope of this course that you would be interested in exploring further with the same instructor?
This section is currently under construction. Check back soon!