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Degree planning made easy

Pilot of digital tool helps students look ahead better and further.

By Matt Watson

September 30, 2019

Student wearing Crew in Blue shirt and working on laptop outside JSSB.When a pilot program kicks off next week for a new degree-planning tool from EAB, select students will be able to plan semesters in advance and choose from classes recommended by their advisors without ever having to meet them face-to-face.

The new tool, Academic Planner, is an integrated feature within the existing SSC Navigate platform that facilitates advisor-student collaboration and encourages students to look further into their academic future with an eye on completing their degrees.

Stephanie Allen, director of Advising Systems at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said too much of advisors’ time is spent on “transactional activities,” such as course selection for the upcoming semester. With the Academic Planner, students will have that information available at hand so it should change advising conversations to focus more on degree planning and help students develop or enhance strategies and skills for achieving their educational goals, Allen said.

The tool empowers advisors to recommend courses or planned academic paths that help students complete their general-studies and major requirements. Advisors can even lock students into a specific course when necessary, such as when a course is needed to graduate and offered only in a certain semester.

The Academic Planner also offers powerful search and bulk-action tools so an advisor could search for all students who haven’t made a plan or those who have made a plan but haven’t registered for classes and then message them all at once.

Students, meanwhile, can view and accept advisor recommendations, and the student and advisor can message back and forth with Academic Planning, keeping a record of those messages and showing students completed, in-progress and planned courses all in one place. Students can also create and edit their plans by dragging and dropping courses into future semesters, and advisors can review those to make sure students are on track to graduate by completing necessary requirements.

Students using the Navigate mobile app can also receive push notifications, text messages or emails based on their preferences so they can receive instant feedback when an advisor has made recommendations.

Allen said the Academic Planner won’t replace Degree Works, the official degree audit at MSU Denver – faculty and staff will use both systems when advising students, but the intention is to eliminate paper degree plans and have a tool electronically available for students to access outside of an advising appointment.

The new Academic Planner tool does not register students for courses, so they will still have to register for classes separately. However, knowing what classes to take should expedite the process. If students enroll faster and earlier because they’re more prepared for registration, it could lessen the need for an all-hands-on-deck registration push like the one employed this past summer.

Advisors will reach out to hundreds of students in the next six weeks to join the pilot, and if all goes well the hope is to roll out the tool to all students for the fall 2020 semester.

Topics: Enrollment, Retention, Student Success

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