In this University License series, I will discuss the importance of developing a university catalog as you prepare for your application process.
Read further to learn about catalog requirements and various categories for such an asset. As always, I invite you to submit any questions you might have by giving me a call or email.
University/College Catalog - Quick Overview
A university or a college catalog will be a legal academic document of authority for all of your students. Whatever information is issued by any academic unit at your university will always be superseded by what’s in the catalog if there’s a conflict between the two.
A college catalog is especially important since it plays a major role in the academic community. Undergraduate students are usually very mobile, so when they transfer from one college to another, it is through the college’s catalog that counselors and other staff determine where a student needs to pick up in terms of continuing their degree or certificate.
Each state issues minimum requirements for university and college catalogs. The list below lists some of those requirements. Do keep in mind that it’s not exhaustive but rather gives a general idea of what can be expected.
Before enrollment, your institution will have to provide prospective students with a school catalog that contains the following basic categories:
- The name, address, phone number, and website of your college or university.
- A statement that confirms your institution to be private and approved to operate by the state regulatory agency responsible for overseeing post-secondary education in your State.
- The following statement: "As a prospective student, you are encouraged to review this catalog before signing an enrollment agreement. You are also encouraged to review the School Performance Fact Sheet, which must be provided to you before signing an enrollment agreement."
- An accurate address where student classes will be held.
- A description of programs offered at your institution, requirements for completion of each program, final tests, and examinations, as well as any mandatory internships/externships, among other things.
- A comprehensive schedule of total tuition fees for the period of attendance, as well as an estimated schedule of total costs for the entire academic program.
- A statement that provides clear information about your institution’s participation in federal and state financial aid programs.
Each State provides information on its own Catalog checklist that must be followed. Some common items you can expect to see in a checklist like that are as follows:
- A statement of your institution’s mission, purposes, and objectives.
- Language proficiency information required of students. For instance, TOEFL for English proficiency.
- Your institution’s policies and practices regarding any form of financial aid.
- A list of standards for student achievement.
- A description of a library or other learning resources available for students on-campus or online.
- A description of all available student services.
- Your institution’s policies on student rights.
- Policies on the retention of your students’ records.
Categories and Content
To help you get a better idea, here are some of the most common categories that various U.S. based colleges and universities have in their catalogs:
- General information: school name, address, phone numbers, mission statement, purpose, objectives, and so forth.
- Admissions and entrance requirements: a description of a school’s admission policies, as well as entry requirements for each offered program. In addition to that, application deadlines, criteria for transfer credits, and other information.
- Student disclosure information: the school’s standards and requirements for satisfactory student progress, grading system, information about student rights, responsibilities, and privileges, as well as school’s procedures for handling student complaints.
- Attendance/leave of absence information: the school’s policy on various types of student absences and how each is handled, and recorded. In addition to that, a detailed policy on how a school grants leaves of absence.
- Dismissal, probation, and re-admission: the school’s policy on giving a probational period for lower-than-satisfactory grades, the length of the probation period, criteria for student dismissal, and conditions under which a student shall not be re-admitted.
- Tuition fees and refunds: a statement of the school’s tuition costs and other charges such as deposits, books, equipment, and supplies. Refund policies on tuition and fees.
- Program curriculum: objectives of each academic program, prerequisites, required courses, description of each offered program, scheduled class hours, graduation requirements, and other similar items.
If I was asked what is the most crucial college publication available to students, I would wholeheartedly respond to that: the college catalog.
Your college catalog not only informs your existing and prospective students about their rights and responsibilities but also provides descriptions of key policies critical for student success.
As mentioned earlier, your college catalog is a legal document that supersedes any other available materials you have about your obligations in serving your students.
In fact, even when some of your students discontinue their studies for a short time, they will still have their catalog rights.
Finally, your college catalog also serves as an important marketing tool for your institution. It helps your prospective students to see how you’re different from your competition. It is through your college catalog that you’ll be able to convey your offerings and services, as well as make a lasting impression on future students.
If you’re planning to open your university or college, I highly recommend hiring a professional that could help with writing and designing an effective catalog as per the requirements set by regulating and accrediting agencies. If you want to learn more about how I can help with this, feel free to book your consultation with me via a call or email.