When Bob Jansen, MBA, CCR, Director of Retail Operations, Three Rivers College, decided equitable access was the right solution for his campus, he used the MBS system's flexible features to help streamline his store’s program.
The equitable access program at the College Store
As an MBS system partner, Jansen uses the MBS collegiate retail system to help manage his store’s Equitable Access Program, named the Resource Fees.
“The main components of the MBS system that helps with equitable access are the rental features. The serialized barcode tool in the MBS system helps identify books and materials to specific students,” Jansen said. “Our program includes all digital and physical course materials as well as course supplies like labs, course packs, uniforms, etc. Anything required for class, we include in our equitable program. We use a credit hour system that is charged at registration. If a student registers for 15 hours, they are charged the rate times 15 hours for the semester’s course materials.”
At the end of each term, students are required to return all materials that could be used again.
“We put out a general message that you have to return everything. Some things are disposable and can’t really be returned, like labs and workbooks, but we stick to the ‘return everything so we can recycle it’ message, and it has paid off.” Jansen said. “It is important to us that we take the inventory back and recycle each term. The majority (around 75%) of our inventory is physical books that cost $100 or more. We have to recycle in order to make the equitable concept work on our campus.
“We had about 5,000 printed items in our program for the spring semester that students theoretically have to return. We typically get most of our stuff back. If we don’t get returns, we run the rentals outstanding report in the MBS system, so we know which students we either need to track down or charge for the materials that haven’t been returned. We can be pretty lenient about some things, but if a hardback book isn’t returned, we will contact the student and charge them the full retail price for the book,” Jansen said.
With the rentals outstanding report, the store can see any rental titles, and the students who rented them, that are currently in a rented status. Using this report, it is easy to see any rental books that have not been returned yet.
The first three semesters under the equitable access program have been successful and incredibly popular with students and administrators.
“Since we started this for the Summer 2021 term, we haven't had anybody request an opt out of the program. With this program, you’re either all in or all out. So that means there's no course level opt out,” Jansen said. “What we used to do in the past is we had course fees at the course level. There were different prices for different courses. This solution simplified all of that. Now everything is included in the new model and there is no difference on prices.”
How course materials are distributed to students
Logistics is another important aspect of implementing a successful program. Website prices can be easily managed and updated in the MBS complete retail system.
“I worked with the inSite representatives to set up our website, so prices aren’t listed. We don't want students thinking about prices because they are irrelevant. We still use the web order functionality, and we offer free shipping on all books. When registration opens for the term, we open our website as well. We want the two linked in students’ minds to tie registration opening to being able to get their course materials,” Jansen said.
As a community college with a diverse population, it is important that students have options for how they receive their materials each term.
“Almost half of our orders were through the website and went out for delivery. We have three external locations in addition to our main campus, so we serve a lot of students who live within about an hour of one of our locations. Shipping is important because it offers busy students the convenience they need,” Jansen said. “When a student registers for classes, they have a choice. They can pick up their materials in the store or they can order them online and have them shipped.
“Another way we have elevated our in-store service is through counter service. We want to make sure students get the right materials and because so many orders are now going out through the website, we can offer the students that come in more individual attention.”
To learn more about the successful program at Three Rivers College, read Jansen’s College Store article here.