Graduating on time requires a lot more than taking the right classes at the right time; it also includes filling out a graduation evaluation and meeting with advisers frequently, among other things.
Associated Students Inc. and the Office of Academic Records know how hard this can be, and are nearing completion of a computerized degree audit program to help students track their graduation status.
The audit program, called Poly Progress, has actually been in the making for several years, according to Associated Students Inc. President Brandon Souza, who has supported the grad audit.
“It was a major focus of my platform when I ran for president, as it was of my opponents,” he said. “I knew it was something students wanted.”
According to Associate Registrar Maureen Muller, the purpose of Poly Progress is to give students an opportunity to check their progress toward graduation, without having to fill out grad evaluations or check unofficial transcripts. Students will be able to check their progress toward their degree at any time during their college career.
The construction of Poly Progress suffered a setback with the switch the California State University system made in fall 2006 to PeopleSoft, the current application students and faculty use for registration, checking financial information and more.
“That was a large step backwards with the introduction of PeopleSoft,” Souza said. “We had to start all over because Poly Progress wasn’t compatible with PeopleSoft.”
Audit programs can still be compatible with PeopleSoft, however. Therefore, a new program could be constructed for Cal Poly to work through PeopleSoft, but the creation process has been a long one, since adjustments needed to be made every time PeopleSoft was updated.
Souza also emphasized how complex an audit program would need to be to accommodate Cal Poly students.
“We’re unique at Cal Poly in that students must declare majors before coming in; they also have minors and concentrations, and students can even create concentrations, which is an individual course of study,” Souza said. “Creating the new audit program was not an overnight process.”
Additionally, the program will incorporate the past three catalogues from the Office of Academic Records. In fact, the office prioritizes the project so highly that it has hired two employees from the Records Office strictly to complete the project by fall 2008 or winter 2009.
“They’re making progress,” Souza said. “They have a beta version and have even tested it out with me, but there is still a lot that needs to be built in. They want it to be flawless, and not something students will have a hard time with.”
The audit program should relieve stress off the Office of Academic Records, especially during its window hours. However, Souza emphasized that the office will not be obsolete with the introduction of the program.
“The Office of Academic Records will always serve a purpose of accuracy and integrity of the students, and won’t do anything to compromise that,” he said. “It will just take a lot of stress off the students. It’s unrealistic to ask them to fill out a graduation evaluation four quarters in advance.”
Although liberal arts adviser Bonnie McKim thinks an accurate degree audit would be a helpful tool for students to determine their graduation status, she also thinks the students themselves as well as advisers should play the biggest roles in maintaining awareness and understanding of the degree progress.
“It is my experience that students who take the initiative to see their advisers and pay attention to their degree requirements do not usually have difficulty graduating on time,” she said. “I would also say that with the complexity of many of our current degree programs, no degree audit (program) will be a complete replacement for seeing your adviser.”