This general introduction assumes that anyone reading this will be unfamiliar with or new to university or college enrollment offices and procedures. The following document describes in generalities and specifics the functions of enrollment, and is not necessarily a portrait of any one institution in this state. Also assumed is that some of these area functions have different names or responsibilities on campus or all these offices may even be rolled into one area, but these functions can be found in every campus procedures.

A student new to college will follow these general steps:

  • Admissions, undergraduate, and graduate
  • Orientation
  • Placement tests and academic advising
  • Financial assistance
  • Registration
  • Payment of bill through the bursar

Undergraduate admissions

A visit to the Undergraduate admissions area and its counselors will determine whether a potential student can be enrolled and what category of enrollment the student will be assigned. The decisions to be made include the following:

  1. Will the student be fully admitted as a degree-seeking student?
    The formal admission of a student in this category requires high-school transcripts or GED results and other college transcripts to be sent to the new university or college. New students over the age of 21 are generally not required to take SAT or similar achievement-tests for admission. Later placement testing, depending on the college or university, will determine which courses the student can begin. By the way, this admission requires several weeks to process all forms and receive all documents, so last-minute requests for full admission are best served by enrolling the student as nondegree-seeking (see below), with the advice of an academic adviser, while the student takes time to complete forms and gather documents.
  2. Will the student be admitted as a degree-seeking student in a probationary status?
    The official transcripts may indicate the need for remedial or developmental work or other circumstances will require this cautionary admission. The student may be assigned to developmental courses or special grouping in learning communities to provide adequate learner support.
  3. Will the student be told that admission is not possible at this time?
    For a variety of reasons, a college or university may not allow a student to be admitted. Some colleges have open enrollment that allows anyone to take a class. Some institutions require that continuing students be in good standing or status at their last institution. Its important that a student be given the reason they have been turned down for enrollment and that the student knows what alternatives are available to achieve personal goals.
  4. Will the student be granted the status of a nondegree-seeking student?
    A student may want merely to take a class without a full admission to the university. Universities and colleges allow students the status of nondegree-seeking for the purpose of taking a single course. It is important for the student to speak with an academic adviser or take placement tests to determine that any course prerequisites are met. Institutions have a limit on the number of courses, 9-15 credits, that can be taken under this status and will soon ask that the student declare a course of study and be fully admitted to a program of study.
  5. Is the student an international student or an out-of-state student?
    International students go through a special admissions area that reviews not only their academic backgrounds but also their U.S. visa status. This area may also help the student through testing to enter English as Second Language (ESL) courses to afford them access to regular classes. Any incoming student who is not an American citizen should be directed towards this special admissions area. Caution the student that this admission may require more time and paperwork than instate student admission.

Out-of-state students require the evaluation of their entry status with the university because computer systems will assign them different codes from instate students. Some out-of-state students, however, particularly those with reciprocal agreements with the universities and colleges on the border with other states, can be treated as in-state students with the same fees. Out-of-state students generally pay the full fee for the course that includes the instate fee plus the amount of fees subsidized by the Indiana legislature for instate students. Generally, changing an out-of-states admission to instate status involves the judgment of each institutions regulations.

Its important to note that the admissions area will be in charge of the first information about the student to be placed in the colleges computer system. This initial information is called the students header on the institutional system. Any changes in admission status will require that this header be changed, and this often requires the students producing proof or evidence that such changes have taken place.

A tip: Out-of-state students can be directed toward taking correspondence courses that usually do not require residence status. Do this with advice from an academic adviser, however, because programs of study or degree programs have limited numbers of correspondence courses that can apply to a degree, and financial assistance usually does not permit correspondence courses.

Another tip: Make sure you have the latest bulletin from all the institutions in the Partnership or that you bookmark these areas on the Web. If students have any questions about what it takes to be admitted, have that information quickly available. Contact the campus coordinator at the institution for more information for the student.

A warning: The student can request that clarifications be made of admissions-area decisions, but as a Learning Center coordinator, do not promise the student something the university or college cannot or will not deliver. Entrance standards vary from institution to institution, and generally full explanations and steps that can be taken are sent with letters of institutional decisions. Contact the campus coordinator at the institution for more information for the student. Help the student consider alternatives!

Another warning: An application fee, a one-time fee that is nonrefundable, generally must accompany applications. Make the student aware this is the case, if it is so.

Graduate admissions

Students who have completed four-year degrees are accepted into graduate degree programs by the departments offering the degrees. Applications for admission must be made directly to those departments to be processed there. Check with the campus coordinator to see whom the student must contact in the department for admission information.

Students with four-year degrees may choose to take undergraduate classes for personal enrichment, professional development, or any number of reasons. Determine with the campus coordinator how such a student can be admitted as a nondegree graduate student.

Warning: The student can request that clarifications be made of admissions-area decisions, but as a Learning Center coordinator, do not promise the student something the university or college cannot or will not deliver. Entrance standards vary from institution to institution, and generally full explanations and steps that can be taken are sent with letters of institutional decisions. Contact the campus coordinator to reach the departmental graduate adviser at the institution for more student information. Help the student consider alternatives!

Another warning: Applications generally must be accompanied by an application feea fee that is nonrefundableand sometimes with a time limit to take courses, such as two years. Make the student aware this is the case. Applications may also require that some proof of the undergraduate degree, such as a photocopy of a diploma or transcript showing the degree achieved.

Orientation sessions

Colleges and universities ask that new on-campus students come to campus for visiting the campus; attending sessions on what the students must do to enroll for the semesters ahead and what the students can expect; and learning about all the on-campus services that are available for all students, otherwise called orientation or some other special name for learning what to expect from college. If the student was not asked for medical records to be admitted, the student may be asked to bring along copies of those records that reflect up-to-date immunization and tests. Its an excellent session for anyone who plans to work for a degree to attend, and until virtual orientations are available on university and college Web sites, the day is extremely useful. An orientation fee may be charged, but the information gained is worth every penny to the new student.

Many university Web sites now offer virtual tours of the campuses or such important buildings as the library or student services. For the student who enters later in the semester, Web resources may be the best opportunity to learn about the campus.

Tip: If at all possible, encourage off-campus students or students taking classes at a distance to go to an on-campus orientation. Special orientation offices plan these days to not only give out important information in one sitting, but allow the student to feel more connected with the campus. A good orientation session allows a student to feel more independent because she knows more about how the college and university systems work. You will want to encourage students to make an appointment to see an academic adviser on the same day; a short on-campus visit with an academic adviser can help the student feel more assured about seeking advising as problems arise.

Warning: Orientation sessions are designed for on-campus students, so caution the distance student to bring orientation concerns to you, the coordinator. Caution them to expect the sessions to be geared toward on-campus students, but encourage them to ask specific questions and ask for resources for taking classes off campus.

Academic advising and placement tests

The linchpin of a successful program is the availability of good academic advising. An adviser knows not only the prescribed courses for the degree but also knows equivalent courses that may better fit the students interests or schedule. They know the courses well enough to know how to fill a schedule without overwhelming the student; and working with the students records, they can suggest appropriate courses and programs and alternatives. A student is generally assigned to an adviser early in the enrollment process and encouraged to seek that advisers help with problems. Because advisers have so many students to work with, making an appointment can take time, however, more and more advisers suggest that students email them with concerns, which is ideal for the distance student.

In larger institutions, lower division (freshman and sophomore years) students are often enrolled in courses of general study before they decide a major course of study. The advisers they see are specifically helpful for predecision students. After students choose a course of study, their advisers may be experienced staff within the department of their major. Some institutions assign faculty members as advisers, while others have staff dedicated as academic advisers. These details are the kinds of information students need to learn about their Home Institution.

Warning: Prerequisites may be an unfamiliar word, but its important when the student considers what courses he wants to take. The word simply means the courses the student has taken or the experience a student has had that must be completed before the course may be taken. An English course may require that a student has completed placement tests that show she can take this course. An accounting course may indicate that two earlier courses, perhaps a math course or a business course be taken before the accounting class. The student may need to have sophomore standing to take a certain class. The Indiana College Network Schedule of Distance Education Classes lists prerequisites for each course as they are made available by the institutions. An adviser or the computer system will catch students whose records dont show prerequisites met, and if not caught in registration, the student will be at a disadvantage taking the course.

Tip: Caution students to file any correspondence from the college or university for safekeeping. This includes all correspondence, all bulletins, all class schedules, all grade reports, and so forth. This may be the only copy of these items, and the student may find copies helpful in resolving concerns throughout their years of study.

Placement tests are given early enough in the enrollment process on-campus that the academic adviser can consult the results while counseling students. Each institution selects the types of placement tests to be given or whether tests will be given at all. Its important to learn whether such tests are necessary for advising and registration so the student will be prepared with results on record. Generally math and English are tested, with special tests for some sciences, other tests for vocabulary and reading skills, and still other tests for composition. With these results, the adviser has a good idea what classes are appropriate the first semester.

These tests must be taken on campus for the most part because this is an official testing procedure with timed tests and test proctors.

Tip: Check with the campus coordinator to learn whether these tests are available in paper format for taking off-campus. It doesnt hurt to ask.

Tip: To the question, Do I really have to do this? you can respond with a short answer (Yes.) or you can say, We want you in the class that helps you the most and where you are challenged to succeed.

Warning: Dont frighten nontraditional students with the term placement tests. Call them what they are, assessments. The tests assess what the student knows now about math, vocabulary, spelling, and composition, so that they can be placed in appropriate courses. Ask students to talk over the results of the assessments with you because some of them will open a letter that says they must take a course equivalent to 8th-grade math, causing them to lose their confidence in returning to school. Use good, cool logic to let them know that an overwhelming majority of people simply do not use algebra in their everyday life and therefore lose what they learned in high school if they took algebra at all. Assure them that they are no different from the thousands of returning adults who find the same results in their mailboxes. If need be, call on the students academic adviser to translate the results for the student.

Because adult students want so much to succeed and save time and money, they will spend too much time and money trying to study for the tests. Caution them that studying for placement tests could give them a false result, temporary information that they could learn so much better in a regular teaching situation than from a hefty and expensive book from the local bookstore. Also let them know that a good nights sleep the night before is the best way to handle such assessments. Be prepared, however, to learn that your advice has been ignored.

Tip: Consider alternatives that distance students may have locally to better their math and writing skills. Ask your local library and your area school districts what resources and classes they may offer for students of any age. It is also possible to locate area teachers, perhaps retired teachers, who would like to help adult students as mentors or tutors.

Financial aid

Financial aid programs help students pay for the costs of education associated with college attendance. In general, aid programs can cover tuition and fees, housing and food, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. Students taking courses through distance education should check with the Financial Aid Office at their home institution to determine what expenses could be covered by financial aid programs.

To receive federal financial aid, a student must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen; have a high school diploma, GED, or pass an approved ability to benefit test; must be admitted to a qualified college as a certificate or degree seeking student; and if applicable register with selective service. Students who are in default on student loans; owe repayment of financial aid funds; or have not met academic progress standards for financial aid are not eligible for aid programs.

The financial aid office (FAO) is the college or university department that administers financial aid programs. The office may be staffed by one person or by many people depending upon the size of the institution.

Tip: If a question arises about financial aid check with the ICN campus coordinator to see if she or he has a contact in the office. Communicating with one person consistently in the financial aid office might be helpful.

The FAO is involved with the following administrative and service functions:

  • Receives and reviews all financial aid application data.
    Tip: The student applicant must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any additional forms necessary to be considered for financial aid.
  • Determines the cost of attendance at their institution.
  • Determines award processes based on federal, state, and institutional laws and regulations.
  • Requests additional information from students.
    Tip: If a student has been asked to submit information to the financial aid office (e.g., tax return), the student should do so immediately. Delays in providing requested information, delay the processing of the students financial aid.
  • Makes financial aid awards.
  • Sends out award notification letters.

Financial aid office staff also responds to questions and concerns that students and families may have about the application or awards process.

Tip: Encourage students to talk to financial aid office staff if they have concerns or questions. Financial aid administrators will do all they can to get the student the answers they need.

The application and award process of financial aid may seem overwhelming to students. However, the FAFSA has been simplified over the years and is available to complete online, as well as in print. It is easier than ever to apply. Students with questions about financial aid can contact the financial aid office or the ICN student services center.


The registrar maintains general records of university and college students, including all data pertaining to students personal, demographic, and fundamental academic information. After the student becomes a student and records are entered in the institutional databases, the registrar is responsible for any changes to the information. Although records may be changed in other departments on-campus, the registrar is responsible for the structure and entry rules for university and college databases. On smaller campuses; the admissions and registration functions may be combined in one office.

The registrar records and keeps records of courses during the school year, and registration systems allow the student to enter courses and drop courses with dates added for record-keeping. The policies the registrar follows are not set by that office but are decided in faculty committees within the structure of the university or college. The registrar creates the systems that abide by those rules through structured databases that require university policies, such as prerequisite courses.

Each semester, as the catalog of classes is prepared, departmental representatives add or subtract courses and update the classes to be offered the following semester. This data is entered in the system along with semester dates, and the system orders these requests and then assigns a specific section number to each class, a number that designates one class meeting at a specific time in a specific location or for distance students an indication that the course is offered as a distance class. Also in the description is information all students should know, such as class-meeting dates, credit hours, instructor, and any special information, such as class meetings on campus, required activities, prerequisites, or other information the instructor wishes to appear in the on-campus course schedule.

Registration is a procedure that occurs in order during certain periods of time. The student may be required to register only after a certain date, and classes may close before the semester begins. Popular classes may fill up rapidly, as well as those offered at particular times for synchronous classes. Some institutions suggest that the student be prepared with alternative selections should the desired classes be closed. Closed classes are filled with students and a limit is designated, but canceled classes have been eliminated by the department. Classes that do not have adequate enrollment are canceled, and notices are sent to any registered students that they must select an alternative class. Classes are canceled when an instructor is not available or for many other reasons.

Dropping and adding classes to a students semester schedule takes place through the registrar. Distance classes require accurate attendance records to determine the last date of attendance for students on financial aid, so you should be able to support the student with accurate records. Caution the student that any decision to drop should be made quickly so that tuition may be refunded, if the drop occurs within the first three or four weeks of class. After that time, refunds may not be available. After the semester begins, students will probably need to seek the professors permission to add another class.

Later, the graduating student will write back to the registrars office at her home institution for transcripts of university or college records for career changes.

Note: If a student wants to read a complete and up-to-date description of the course, the ICN database of courses at offers descriptions of most courses. The most accurate courses are included in bulletins from the department or school offering the degree program. Some institutions have included these descriptions in their class schedule, but campuses vary. These detailed descriptions are required when transferability of courses is a question among schools as well as a syllabus or the class session-by-class session description of the course.

Tip: Bulletins come from on-campus departments and schools, course schedules come from the registrars office, but the syllabus is available from the instructor or the secretary of the school or department. Bulletins are more durable publications because they are intended to be kept. A thorough reading of both the class schedule and the college bulletin can prevent many mishaps. As mentioned earlier, caution the student to file these materials in a safe place. Some schools have begun offering duplicate copies of these items through the bookstoreat a price.

Another tip: Caution the continuing student to keep the registrar informed of all changes of name and address because incorrect address information will keep professors and campuses offices from reaching the student or sending along course information.

Still another tip: Online registration for classes may be available, so check the Web at each institution. For online or phone registration, make sure the student has all the information required on hand in time to enter information.

Warning: As class size becomes ever more important, caution the student that, while frustration with class closure or cancellation may be a reasonable reaction, anger may waste more time than correcting problems. The distance student needs the assistance of a single campus contact to act as on his behalf in resolving problems. Casting blame on on-campus offices may be an easy explanation, but it doesnt help the student learn how to handle problems.

The bursar and payment of bills

Think of the bursars office as an official bank, so students should make payments on-time. Dates are important in registering for classes, but absolutely crucial in maintaining good financial credit at an institution. Besides keeping financial records for students and maintaining a financial transcript for each student, the Bursar disburses financial aid to the student and her account.

More universities are accepting payments online and offering other streamlined services. The student will learn a great deal about special conveniences by searching the Web site of the home institution.

Tip: Explain that while the system is computerized, and there is enormous logic behind penalties or forfeiture of certain privileges, such as delayed partial billings, the student always has the right to appeal decisions of the bursar with a formal letter and photocopies of any necessary proof.

Warning: Not paying bills on time or bouncing checks may make credit unavailable at the institution. Students with poor financial transcripts showing these problems are required to provide full payments in cash or via money order.