Degree Planner launching in November aims to ease scheduling

Students will have a bit more help when it comes to planning and creating class schedules when a new online roadmap called “Degree Planner” is launched on Nov. 21.

The planner works to create a class schedule that fits a student’s major, putting them on track for graduation. Initially, it will be available for degrees offered in the College of Business and will be rolled out gradually for the other 113 majors that are available at SF State, according to Kimberly Altura, the director of the undergraduate advising center.

The planner will have the same look and feel as the Degree Progress Report on the MySFSU page, but will have more interactive tools such as a pie chart and graph, in order to help students keep track of the progress they have made in their major and what they still need in order to complete it, according to Tina Broughton, the academic advising business analyst for enrollment management technology.

“There are different pages to view, like what’s left to complete, what someone still needs to do as far as requirements and then when you dig a little deeper through it, you’ll see the semester by semester breakdown. Students can keep that (the created schedule) if they want, or add a course or change the units they want to take in a given semester,” Broughton said. “So if a student has transferred in with 60 units, it will lay out what they need to do with the semesters they have left at SF State.”

Broughton said that the Degree Planner will also be user friendly for anyone to use and will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

“We put it in high regard and we make every effort to make everything available online ADA compliant. So I know that they would not have implemented it on all campuses if that was not true,” Broughton said.

Degree Planner roadmaps for other majors besides business will be created with the help of campus curriculum coordinator, Claude Bartholomew, who will collect all of the class requirements and bulletins for each major in order to build a roadmap that is specific to each major.

“We get the roadmaps from undergraduate education and academic planning and Claude Bartholomew has been appointed to start putting those in place and then he’s making them available to me so that we can go ahead and interpret them into a spreadsheet,” Broughton said.

However, the process is far from over once the spreadsheets are made, since there are several steps in creating the degree roadmaps.

“Then we load that spreadsheet into it (the Degree Planner program) to populate different tables and then we go in after that to start tweaking the set up and lay out that plan for that specific major,” Broughton said.

The Smart Planner product, dubbed the “Degree Planner” at SF State, was originally developed at the University of Arizona and was then subsequently licensed to the Burgundy Group, a consulting services firm that manages the PeopleSoft software and Oracle database that MySFSU is run on, according to Broughton.

Other campuses in the CSU, such as CSU Long Beach, CSU Chico and Sonoma State already have the Smart Planner program, according to Broughton.

According to Broughton, it took longer for SF State to acquire the program, since the chancellor of the CSU started the implementation of the Smart Planner throughout all the CSUs in waves, where SF State was the “third wave of implementation.”

However, Alutra said she is impressed by how quickly enrollment management technology has been able to set up the program and get it launched.

“There has been a big push via enrollment technology in the last academic year to complete all majors. It took 10 years to complete the DARS report, so I’m excited that it happened (the adoption of the degree planner) so quickly,” Altura said.

Altura said she is also excited for the degree planner, because it will free up advisors to be able to work with students in other aspects of college life, such as marketing or finding an internship.

“We want students to also go to advisors for internship advice, tips on choosing a major or marketing and to use human interaction for things computers can’t do,” Altura said.

Tiara Celestial, an apparel and design major, said she is also excited for the Degree Planner since it can help her stay more organized.

“It will be a lot nicer. I’m planning to meet with counselors, but this would be a lot smoother,” Celestial said.

Inaleigh Johnson, a politcal science major, agreed with Celestial’s sentiment, saying that it will be good to have the program since planning classes can be difficult.

“It can be difficult planning classes and is kind of unclear on what I need next. If it makes it more clear where you’re at (in terms of units and classes) and makes graduating faster, then that would be great,” Johnson said.

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