Degree audit sees mixed reviews

Students are reporting kinks in the online degree auditing system launched Monday, but administrators in the Office of the Registrar said they have already resolved most of the minor issues reported.

Students using the online tool known as DegreeMAP, which is designed to help track progress toward graduation, have encountered problems in applying general curriculum requirements, transfer or Advanced Placement credits from other institutions, special topics courses and, in rare cases, are unable to access the system entirely.

Implementation of the auditing program in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences – the University’s largest undergraduate school and the school known for its poor advising – has been under close scrutiny.

Members of the registrar’s office and Columbian College have been engaging in regular conversations during the transition phase, Doug McKenna, associate registrar for degree audit, said.

“I think the critical thing is, ‘everybody don’t panic.’ There are people who are interested in making sure that the courses that a student has taken are applied correctly and are accounted for,” he said.

For students like senior Alec Jacobs, who plans to graduate a semester early, the flaws in the system are “especially disconcerting” as the deadline for graduation checklists approaches.

“I’m graduating in December and have to submit my graduation application by October 1,” he said, “but meanwhile Columbian College says it takes two to four weeks to schedule an appointment with an advisor, so what am I supposed to do now?”

McKenna said the registrar opted to open the system to all undergraduates, rather than roll it out to each entering freshman class over a series of years, because it was fairer to distribute the auditing system all at once.

Regular advising processes – like graduation checklists – remain in place, McKenna said.

For students experiencing issues with DegreeMAP, McKenna suggests that they contact their advisers or fill out online feedback forms to describe their concerns. Though the form estimates a two to four week window for resolving auditing problems, McKenna said the majority of the complaints so far have been settled within a couple of days.

During the initial stages, the registrar’s office recommends that students with small-scale issues use the form, while those who have broader questions, related to major changes, for example, seek out their advisers.

McKenna views the launch of DegreeMAP as a success, despite the student complaints, adding that the majority of the degree requirements are matching up correctly.

Students will be the best filters for catching snags in the auditing system, McKenna said, because they are most closely watching their own paths to graduation.

“Students have a vested interest in their own academic history and their own requirements,” he said. “So they are really good at the data evaluation and review that’s necessary to make sure everything is functioning correctly.”

The University plans to expand the program to graduate students in the coming months.

Andrea Vittorio contributed to this report.

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