Conventional wisdom holds that navigating the complexities of college requirements is part of the work of earning a degree. But in this era of apps, that is changing. Starting Sept. 20, Stanislaus State students have access to My Academic Pathway — a suite of online tools to simplify the process.
Stan Planner is the key piece that just came online, letting students see what requirements they still need to fulfill, all the options to check those boxes and the sequence that makes sense given what the University typically offers each semester, explained Gabriela Nuño, associate director of enrollment services. “It’s going to show them what they have left to take and what term they can expect to complete those requirements,” Nuño said.
The flip side is the benefit to the University. The program also aggregates what students want to take by semester, helping the University plan classes or schedule extra sections of key prerequisite courses in advance. “The more students use it, the more we can do demand analysis,” she said.
Stan Planner works in concert with two programs already in use. Stan Degree Progress maps all the intricacies of graduation requirements by student, ticking off requirements that have been completed for majors and general education, tracking grade point average and units. It tells Stan Planner what the student still needs. Once the student has settled on a plan, those course decisions can be imported by Stan Scheduler to find all the workable class schedules for the semester.
“Stan Degree Progress lets you know what you have completed and what you still have left to do,” said student Margie Loza. “Stan Planner goes beyond that and lets you know the actual courses you need and when they will be offered. It helps students stay on track to graduate.”.
Loza said the degree-planning tools would have helped her when she was starting out. “I took courses that I did not need because I thought they were for my major, but I was confused by the list of courses my department offers as recommended courses,” she said. “If I would have known ahead of time, I would have gotten a minor, or I would have seen that I had a full semester of electives and I would have planned to study abroad.”
Such simple misunderstandings can add semesters to completing a degree, a significant cost in dollars and potential loss of academic opportunities, such as pursuing a minor or studying abroad, as Loza mentioned. Students whose families have no college-going experience, who make up 75 percent of this fall’s incoming freshman class, are at higher risk for procedural missteps. Putting signposts on the path and clearing stumbling blocks are part of a range of student success efforts underway to raise graduation rates.
“I believe this will also help a lot of first-generation students who are confused about what courses to take when they start college,” Loza said. “STAN Planner will make it simple for them and it will be such a helpful tool for all students.”
But while the computer can map-out available options, it still takes a human advisor to help students sift through the choices before them, Nuño said.
“This is really a planning tool that we want students to personalize. It doesn’t replace face-to-face advising. It’s designed to enhance those conversations,” she said.