Making registration angst-free

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Aside from final exams, class selection and registration are among the biggest stresses for students between now and the start of summer.

It’s a process that begets angst over questions such as: “Can I get the class that I need?” and “What’s the best class for me to take?”

Giving students and staffers better online e-advising tools for degree planning is one of the keys to improving four-year graduation rates at UT. And progress has already been made to improve student services and advising tools.

Last month, the Office of the Registrar, a unit of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, launched a new Interactive Degree Audit system known as IDA 2.0. Students can check to see which degree requirements have been satisfied, partially completed or still need to be satisfied. The information is easier to access and more intuitive than in the old system. The new system has been in the works for the past year and a half, and student and adviser input was used to make the new system more streamlined and user-friendly.

The results will be fewer surprises for students about how close they are to graduation and better information for academic advisers and staffers who make recommendations about what courses students should take next.

As a complement to IDA 2.0, students also have access to MyEdu, which is working in partnership with the UT System to provide additional planning tools to students at all of its campuses. UT-Austin is one of the first three campuses to participate in the $10-million initiative approved by the Board of Regents.

For students who have used MyEdu in the past, the mobile application and site have many of the features they will recognize — the ability see other student opinions on courses and research potential schedules. In time for summer and fall registration — which began this month — the University has provided MyEdu with course schedule information including class options, descriptions, instructors, class meeting times and locations to improve accuracy on the site. Our administrators are working to find more public university data that can be quickly added to the site to strengthen its offerings, including information about transferring credits from other colleges and universities.

Students can use MyEdu to plan their class schedules. But only IDA 2.0 will tell them whether they are on track for graduation using real-time information and personal educational records. MyEdu can provide general information regarding degree plans but does not perform automated, complex interactive degree audits based on student academic records mapped to University degree requirements.

All of these tools will help students to determine the best path to take through the University. E-advising can give students quicker access to the facts, but professional academic advisers possess the wisdom and practical knowledge about what students need to prepare for upper-level courses and get where they ultimately want to go — graduate school, business, the public sector or elsewhere.

The University’s steering team will work with MyEdu to determine what additional public information can be provided to MyEdu to complement the University’s existing registration, enrollment, degree planning and advising services. In all of these efforts, we will work to provide services that are secure, accurate and reliable — services that we believe will support the academic success of our students.

Finally, we will continue improving our other advising services as well, including additional planning and degree audit features for advisers throughout the summer and fall. We hope we will make advising, degree planning and registration even more accessible and angst-free so that students can spend more time preparing for finals and not as much time worrying about what they need to take next semester.

Ritter is vice provost of undergraduate education and faculty governance, and Stanfield is vice provost and University registrar. Both serve as co-chairs of the MyEdu Steering Team at UT.