How to Choose a Student Registration System for Your Continuing Education or Workforce Development Organization


Higher education is changing rapidly, and the average institution’s infrastructure can’t support it. Learner demographics are shifting, and public spending on education is experiencing a lull. On top of this, widespread student debt, a demand for more non-credit programs and a changing labor market are making alternatives to traditional higher ed institutions (HEIs) increasingly attractive to learners. 

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The story varies from one institution to another, but the pains are universal:

  • Decreased enrollments and revenue: Enrollments in HEIs are dropping at a historic rate, leaving schools with far less revenue with which to provide value-adding programming, let alone “keep the doors open.
  • Low learner engagement, high learner drop-off: Learners are widely dissatisfied with the digital interactions with their schools, attributing much of it to complex administrative processes that hurt more than help. Unhappy students are likely to drop off, and unimpressed prospects will simply look elsewhere.
  • Low student re-enrollment: Students may successfully register, undertake and complete programs, but poor 
    institution-to-learner relationships mean many are unlikely to return. A significant opportunity is lost: the institution loses the continuous revenue that a lifelong learner provides, and the learner loses the chance to re-enroll at an institution that understands and caters to their unique needs.

The stage is set for universities and colleges to lose footing in the education market. These downward trends are likely to continue unless institutions adapt to meet the changing market head on. 



The System Is the Problem

These pains can be attributed to the modern learner’s eCommerce-derived expectations for their administration—digital expectations that many institutions fail to meet.  Today’s learner is more diverse than the teenager coming straight out of high school, but many institutions still focus on this demographic alone. Where the traditional learner would opt for a four-year program, enjoy a lengthy career with one or very few employers and retire in their 60s, disruptive circumstances have rendered this model obsolete.  

The learner demographic has widened to include everyone from the fresh-faced twentysomething looking for an academic “one and done” to the workforce veteran looking to sharpen their skill set through an online course. Today’s students are constantly upskilling, periodically switching jobs, open to new modes of learning and, most importantly, accustomed to simplicity in their digital interactions. 

The learner market is broader than ever and cannot be engaged or served through one-size-fits-all administration. The downward trajectory of enrollments and revenue in recent years highlights a massive gap between what learners expect and what institutions provide: the modern learner engagement gap. 


Does Your Institution Have a Modern Learner Engagement Gap?

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In a digital-first market, schools’ outdated administration systems are putting them at odds with the modern learner’s need for simplicity and clarity. When their needs are not met, learners will look elsewhere to have them fulfilled. 



The System Is the Solution

A modern learner engagement gap is caused by outdated and inflexible learner administration. As such, it can be remedied by prioritizing a system that enables seamless digital experiences for both learners and staff.  A modern SIS, built for the unique needs of non-traditional higher education, is the best way to address these concerns. Such a system would transform your unit’s digital experience to attract, engage and retain learners while smoothing over the rough edges of administration for staff.  

Non-credit administration systems work best when they are tailored to non-credit units and the non-traditional learners they serve.

A modern non-credit administration system enables: 

One centralized platform for all non-traditional offerings

  • Continuing Education & Workforce Development
  • Professional Education & Training
  • Corporate Partnerships
  • Conferences

Accelerated growth and streamlined management of non-traditional programs

  • An Amazon-like, personalized student experience informed by eCommerce best practices
  • Administration that lets learners easily discover programs, enroll and pay
  • Agile curriculum management and responsive, personalized student support

Lifelong learner engagement

  • Easy management of non-traditional student lifecycles
  • A student-first experience that attracts new learners
  • Personalized pathways to lifelong learning and retention

A purpose-built SIS for non-traditional education can not only address your institution’s modern learner engagement gap—it can turn your unit’s digital experience into an enrollment-generating machine that attracts, enrolls and retains learners throughout the entire student lifecycle. When your administration system serves your non-credit unit’s unique needs, you’ll notice your learners stick around a lot longer—and generate more revenue as a result.

Core Features of a Student Registration System for Higher Education

Today’s learners cannot be engaged with standard, one-size-fits-all administration processes—your main campus’ system doesn’t have the flexibility to meet your non-credit unit’s unique requirements. To address a modern learner engagement gap, an administration system must engage students like customers while simplifying operational management to deliver the front-end and back-end experience required for success in the Continuing Education and Workforce Development space.

Modern Campus Destiny One is the first choice for managing the business of non-traditional higher education. It creates new revenue streams for continuing education and workforce development institutions, while attracting learners at different life stages and delivering a cohesive lifelong learning environment tailored to each student.

The modern SIS enables easy management of enrollments, curriculum, course and program marketing, finance and user-centric reporting dashboards that offer a bird’s eye view of your unit’s performance. Additional features allow units to generate even more revenue and engagement; Destiny One’s Pathways, Corporate Engagement Manager, International and Specialty Programs Manager, Conference Manager and Badging are just a few of the features that non-credit units have used to expand their reach in the non-traditional education market. 

Your chosen system must have these capabilities as a minimum for consideration:

1. Multiple Conversion Points 

A modern administration system recognizes the many opportunities to engage or lose a prospective learner on the institution’s website. The modern learner’s digital expectations are colored by their other eCommerce experiences, where failing to meet their needs for convenience and accessibility sends them back to the search bar.

  1. Your SIS should optimize pages for maximum findability through search engines and engage learners with an elegant, easily understood interface.
  2. The SIS should drive learners through your enrollment funnel with personalized content and relevant navigation pathways. 
  3. A next-generation SIS should enable more opportunities to sell and re-sell to successful learners by showing staff a learner’s transaction history at a glance. 
  4. If a learner misses a deadline or wants to enroll in a course that’s at-capacity, they should be able to waitlist the course and be notified when a slot opens. 
  5. If a learner has abandoned their purchase (as nearly 70% of eCommerce customers will), the system should automatically send an email reminding the prospect of their pending purchase.

Say we have a certificate that’s composed of ten courses. If someone takes one or two courses, we can see in the system that they haven't taken the other eight. We can contact those students and let them know there’s more offerings on the horizon that can help them meet their goals.

Chris MoirExecutive Director of College Hospitality Services & Retail Operations at the Corporate College, Cuyahoga Community College

In our first full year with the system, our revenue was $9.6 million. This year, we’re on target for over 30 percent growth and fully anticipate $12 million in revenue.

Nicole WestrickAssociate Vice Provost, Temple University

Questions to ask senior leadership: 

  • Is our registration process losing learners/enrollments?
  • How many drop-off points does our current registration system have?
  • How many points of conversion does our current registration system have?

Destiny One Stats:



million of revenue recovered from abandoned cart recovery (2018-2020)



compound enrollment growth of its customers over the past three years



compound revenue growth of its customers over the past five years

2. Automated Course and Prerequisite Management 

Your institution hosts many valuable programs and courses. It shouldn’t be your staff’s job to manually manage your vast network of offerings, making changes by hand to every imaginable application or page every time a course start date is altered. These manual adjustment add up quickly, with more time spent on data entry than supporting students and growing the institution.

What to Look for in Your Non-Credit Administration System

  1. Look for an SIS that collects any information a learner might need to enroll in your offerings—including rich media, fee information, prerequisites and more—and automatically connects it to the institutional website, LMS and course calendar.
  2. The SIS should automate course approval and publishing processes, notifying the right people every time administrators need their sign-off. Doing so allows the administrators to direct their efforts toward getting your programs to market more quickly.
  3. The system’s course and program management features should automate student emails when critical offering information is updated, so staff don’t have to. This can include LMS information, student number setup, certificate issuance and much more.

There’s a nimbleness and flexibility that’s required in order to be able to turn programs around or pilot programs quickly and effectively and efficiently, and our system allows us the ability to do that. We can build a class, set it up and mobilize it very quickly whereas in the past we hadn’t been able to do that.

Lisa BarrDirector of Project Development in the Office of Global Initiatives and Extended Studies, California Institute of the Arts

It’s saving our staff between five and eight hours a week. For our project assistants who work 20 hours a week, this is 25 to 30% of their time that we've now opened up to do other initiatives and help grow the business.

Lisa SedlockAssistant Director of Operations for Academic Ventures, George Mason University
  • Low-level concern addressed: Poor student experience and reliance on administrative support
  • High-level concern addressed: Learner drop-off and enrollment loss


Questions to ask senior leadership: 

  • Is our course management system confusing or losing our learners?
  • Does our course management system update automatically, ensuring learners are up to date on our offerings?

Automated Emails in Action



Regisration increases after the first automated email at Western Continuing Studies

On the first day our course went live, close to 300 emails were sent out to people who had visited our website in the past and wanted to be the first to know the courses were open for registration. Out of that 300, 150 visited the website right away within 24 hours and at least 50 percent of those people signed up for courses. That went right to the bottom line and what was so exciting about

Carolyn YoungDirector of Continuing Studies, Western University

3. Flexible and Configurable Infrastructure 

Today’s learner market is all-encompassing, and it demands agility from your institution’s infrastructure. Many administration systems fail to hit the mark, with programs and applications that require monumental effort to modify or cannot be modified at all (enter shadow systems that bloat administration and frustrate staff).

What to Look for in Your Non-Credit Administration System

  1. Your SIS should be built with configurability in mind, allowing you to pivot at a moment’s notice to reflect changes to offerings, enhance your website, integrate new applications and more. 
  2. The SIS partner should be able to dedicate support staff to more complex operational customizations with low turnaround. 
  3. The administration system should allow your unit to shed redundant applications—and drastically decrease unnecessary expenses. 
  4. The software should be customizable enough to allow staff to create new uses for the system within the institution.

Destiny One eliminates the need for separate merchant accounts for units. It eliminates additional fees for customization and change requests for unit-owned systems.

Kristy DavisAssociate Director of Academic Support Resources-IT, University of Minnesota

The tool is so simple and easy to learn. Because of that, it allows our staff users to get creative and think of other opportunities to use the system. We've heard from our users, especially during what we call our onboarding and demo process, that oftentimes they come to us with a specific event need. But during the course of the demo, they think of several other things they could use the system for.”

Theresa AndersonBusiness Analyst, University of Minnesota

  • Low-level concern addressed: Registration drop-off and poor web engagement
  • High-level concern addressed: Student success, enrollment loss and poor learner retention

Questions to ask senior leadership: 

  • Does our infrastructure cost us more time and resources than it should?
  • What could we spend these resources on if we weren’t hosting outdated systems and processes?

Automated Emails in Action



redundant applications, shadow systems and processes decommissioned at UC Berkeley Extension


saved annually by a single division at the University of Minnesota after eliminating outdated administrative activities and merchant accounts

4. Automated Workflows

Your unit’s time and energy are the most precious resources you have. Yet, for many institutions, they are in short supply, at the hands of outdated or manual processes that add minutes (or even hours) to the clock—leaving little time for the division-growing work that staff could be doing.

What to Look for in Your Non-Credit Administration System

  1. A modern administration system should automate repetitive tasks. With business processes streamlined, your staff can direct their time towards meaningfully serving your learners and growing your institution.
  2. Data entry, creating, reviewing and approving new courses should be automated. This ensures that simple tasks remain simple and that your programs get to market faster. 
  3. The SIS should be self-sufficient—automatically determining the best windows for system maintenance and applying them on its own.


Nobody shows up in the morning wanting to do a terrible job, but when you’re working across a myriad of systems or diving into paper or lacking easy access to critical information, it creates a negative staff experience. The right infrastructure allows folks to really shine and do what they do best, which is ultimately to serve and deliver a great experience to learners.

Elisabeth Rees-JohnstoneExecutive Director of Continuing and Professional Learning at OISE, University of Toronto

The ability to minimize manual staff involvement in processes adds a lot of value. My team can stay focused on instruction—making sure that students’ learning experience is good—instead of having to do tasks that students don't care about. We work with the lean team, so automations extend us more than what we could do with a few people.

Saira CooperDirector of Digital Learning, IT & Operations at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, Rice University

  • Low-level concern addressed: Registration drop-off and poor web engagement
  • High-level concern addressed: Student success, enrollment loss and poor learner retention

Questions to ask senior leadership: 

  • How many hours are staff losing performing tasks that could be automated?
  • What division-growing work could staff be doing if they could streamline the administrative experience?

Automated Workflows in Action



less time spent on administrative support at George Mason University

With Destiny One, LMS information and student number setup, information generation, our course section reminders, end of course surveys, and certificate issuance are all automated.

Lisa SedlockAssistant Director of Operations for Academic Ventures, George Mason University

5. Security & Accessibility and Compliance

Safety is a top concern in eCommerce. Lack of confidence in website security is one of the primary killers of many online purchases, and there’s no reason your administration system should skimp out on protecting your learners’ information. It can be nearly impossible for sensitive data to be compromised. 

What to Look for in Your Non-Credit Administration System

  1. The best SIS for your non-credit unit is built with market-leading cybersecurity practices in place.
  2. Your SIS partner must offer full-service hosting, including backup, redundancy and disaster recovery services. 
  3. Crucially, your partner should be vetted by the best in the business, with the PA-DSS and PCI-DSS and SOC-2 Type 1 and Type 2 audited certifications to show for it. 
  4. Every aspect of your SIS should meet WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards for user accessibility. 
  5. With an ever-widening learner base, it’s essential to make sure every potential student can engage with your offerings comfortably on any device. 

By retiring an antiquated system, we have reduced our risk of unplanned end of service and of security breaches. This provides better management of user access to constituent data and data security.

Kristy DavisAssociate Director of Academic Support Resources-IT, University of Minnesota

The factors needed to maintain compliance and security can change on a daily basis so this is not a trivial exercise—especially with the cyberattacks universities come under.

Serena WongManager of Business Systems at the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University
  • Low-level concern addressed: Registration drop-off and poor web engagement
  • High-level concern addressed: Student success, enrollment loss and poor learner retention

Questions to ask senior leadership: 

  • Does our current tech infrastructure meet modern security standards?
  • Could we be losing enrollments from learners with different accessibility standards?
  • Does our current infrastructure leave us open to security breaches?

Destiny One Certifications

  • PCI PA-DSS v3.2 and PCI DSS Service Provider Level 2 v3.2 certified
  • SOC-2 Type 1 and Type 2 audited and compliant
  • Destiny One hosting platform AWS holds ISO 20071, 27017 and 27108 certification

6. Amazon-Like Shopping Experience

Students are bringing eCommerce expectations to their academic interactions, and they’re taken aback when they find that their most important service provider (their school) can’t give them the same experience they get buying shoes online. In a post-Amazon world, a pre-Amazon digital experience turns many prospects away at the door. It also increases the time support staff spend walking students through processes that they should be able to navigate on their own.

What to Look for in Your Non-Credit Administration System

  1. Your registration system should have advanced search functions that allow students to quickly find the exact information they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.
  2. The SIS should feature fast checkout practices, similar to what your learners are used to when interacting with successful eCommerce companies. It should also offer buyers multiple payment methods.
  3. The system should present personalized information to users at the right times (i.e. displaying offerings based on past searches and purchases).
  4. The software should prioritize user-friendly web design. It should make the institution’s web presence simple for all users to navigate, with centralized course information and an easily navigated interface.

Amazon has successfully made their user interface easy-to-use, even for non-tech savvy users. Features such as recommended products based on user search intent, purchase history and cart reminders make an Amazon-like experience very powerful for an organization. The ability to find what you want, choose it and get it (register, pay, etc.) with a few clicks (after you are in the system, of course), is the expected customer experience in today’s marketplace, no matter what you are selling.”

Professional and Continuing Education Leadership TeamUniversity of San Diego

  • Low-level concern addressed: Registration drop-off and poor web engagement
  • High-level concern addressed: Student success, enrollment loss and poor learner retention


Questions to ask senior leadership: 

  • Is our current web experience making enrollment easy for learners?
  • Does our web experience replicate the environment learners encounter elsewhere online?
  • What would our enrollments look like if our learners’ web experiences were seamless?

Destiny One Stats




online enrollment at Western Continuing Studies, without need for administrative support



increase in course enrollments through 2020 at Ryerson University’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, despite program changes caused by the pandemic



increase in online registrations at Harper College


7. Personalization & Pathways

Personalization and user-specific pathways are mainstays in digital engagement—and for good reason. They drive prospects to purchases based on history and proven preferences. And yet, most registration systems only offer a generalized experience that treats students like numbers. Of all companies they engage with online, 60% of learners say their college is the furthest behind in personalizing their experience. 

What to Look for in Your Non-Credit Administration System

  1. Your modern non-credit system should be able to guide web visitors to offerings in line with their preferences in a few clicks.  
  2. The SIS should drive engagement and enrollment growth by providing highly relevant information to prospects. The system must offer critical labor market information, like salary expectations and job growth forecasts, guaranteeing learners know what they’re signing up for.  
  3. A modern SIS must be able to personalize student browsing. It should suggest related courses when a student completes an offering and prompt students to transform a single course registration into a certificate program enrollment.
  4. The system should provide staff with the customer information they need at their fingertips to provide contextual and personalized support.

We pride ourselves on the quality of service we deliver and the personalized support that our staff provides to our clients, and our SIS aligns with that vision.

Michelle FachDirector of Open Learning and Educational Support, University of Guelph

  • Low-level concern addressed: Registration drop-off and poor web engagement
  • High-level concern addressed: Student success, enrollment loss and poor learner retention


Questions to ask senior leadership: 

  • Are learners finding programs that speak to their unique needs on our site?
  • Are our learners aware of the career pathways available to them?
  • Is our digital experience too generalized to connect with our prospects’ unique needs?


You Need a Modern Registration System for Continuing Education and Workforce Development

A next-generation SIS transforms your institution’s digital experience to match what learners want and need from their school. At a time when alternatives to traditional education are exploding, this is critical to any institution’s success. 

  • Win A: Increased enrollments and revenue
    • A next-generation SIS uses eCommerce best practices to turn your registration system into an enrollment-generating machine.
  • Win B: High learner engagement/low learner drop-off
    • A next-generation SIS engages learners with user-friendly, highly personalized administration that improves your conversion rates and student retention.
  • Win C: Increased student re-enrollment, lifelong learner relationships
    • A next-generation SIS applies modern student lifecycle fundamentals to keep your learners coming back every time they need a new skill or credential. 

A modernized administration system supports enrollment and revenue growth. It delivers the customer-first experience your learners have come to expect, while streamlining non-credit management for administrators.



Find the Best Modern Administration System for Your Institution

Selecting a solution for your institution’s delicate infrastructure can seem like a daunting and massive undertaking, but working with the right partner can smoothly transition your unit to a streamlined, student-first administration model—and the rewards are manifold. Selection criteria include:

  • Benchmark 1: Seamless Registration
    • Drive your enrollments with easy-to-use interfaces, professional web design and an Amazon-like checkout experience.
  • Benchmark 2: Flexible Infrastructure
    • Eliminate or reduce your reliance on outdated, inflexible systems with an easily customizable back-end—and reclaim the savings by removing multiple vendors from the payroll.
  • Benchmark 3: Learner Pathways & Personalization
    • Engage and enroll learners by leveraging their preferences to show them the right fferings at the right times.
  • Benchmark 4: Automated Workflow Management
    • Place staff time and energy where they’re most needed with workflows that eliminate or reduce tedious manual input. 
  • Benchmark 5: Security & Compliance
    • Allow your learners to engage with you in comfort with an SIS that upholds top-tier security and WCAG accessibility standards.

When evaluating options for your institution’s SIS, select a solution based on its alignment with your status as a non-credit unit. Your operations are different from those of your main campus, and one-size-fits-all solutions don’t provide the flexibility you or your learners need. 



Next Steps

The modern learner has an ever-increasing number of resources for their professional development and higher expectations for their institutions than ever before. It’s imperative that your non-credit unit is prepared to deliver on these expectations with a seamless learner experience.  Prioritizing a next-generation administration system is the best means of aligning your institution’s experience with the modern learner’s needs. When administration is built upon proven eCommerce practices, institutions turn their digital experience into enrollment- and revenue-generating machines. 


Destiny One Stats

19% average revenue increase for Destiny One customers

18% average revenue increase in 2020, despite the pandemic and industry-wide enrollment decline

14% average enrollment increase for Destiny One customers

99.95% uptime guarantee

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Case Study

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