Academic Advising: Charting a Clear Path to Graduation

EDUCAUSE has revealed its "Top 10 IT issues," and once again student success—and technology's ability to support it—is on the list. Liz Dietz explains how the newly released Workday Student system was designed from scratch to help higher education institutions focus on student satisfaction and success.

Every year EDUCAUSE shares its list of “Top 10 IT Issues” for the coming year, and we’re always interested to hear what keeps higher education CIOs up at night. We’ve noticed that student success, and the technology that can be used to support it, has remained among the top four issues for the past several years.

It’s clear your organizations continue to be concerned about the need to strategically leverage technology to improve student outcomes. And among Workday customers, stakeholders from Broward College, Louisiana State University, and Stevens Institute of Technology also have listed this as a high priority issue as they work with us on student success initiatives.

We recognized the importance of technology in supporting successful student outcomes when we decided to build a cloud-based student system just three years ago. Workday Student—which became generally available last month—was designed from scratch to make it easier for institutions to operate more efficiently and transparently and to better focus on student satisfaction and success.

We believe students deserve a more straightforward way to stay on track and on time for graduation.

In addition to working with more than 40 institutions to develop Workday Student, we asked students about their challenges. We continually heard their frustrations about the complicated path toward graduation or completion of their academic objectives. “Why was I allowed to enroll in a course that wouldn’t count toward my degree?” they asked. “How come no one told me I was two credits shy of my required coursework until my last semester?” Of course, for those students taking on debt to pay for college, the longer they stay in school, the more debt they accrue and the longer it takes for them to start earning a living in their fields of choice.

We believe students deserve a more straightforward way to stay on track and on time for graduation. Administration already knows a lot about their students—their programs of study, their strengths, and their preferences, for example—so why can’t they do a better job directing students down a straight, logical, and cost-effective path to graduation? That’s why in Workday Student we’ve reimagined the advising process to help institutions do just that.

Our customers are replacing the manual, paper-based academic plans of old with intelligently designed course pathways—individualized by program, groups of programs, concentration, focus area, student objectives, and other institution-defined criteria—with automated, real-time reminders and notifications when a student is straying off course. These pathways also give institutions all the information they need to eliminate the guesswork surrounding scheduling and to keep up with the ebb and flow of course demand.

The advising systems in place today, typically more of a “degree audit” system, don’t support proactive, continuous advising or degree planning.

With Workday Student, you can set up alerts to help your students make better choices. They’ll receive proactive notifications throughout their entire academic career. Maybe they’ve enrolled in too few classes to maintain their financial aid eligibility this academic period. Or perhaps they’re interested in taking a course, but it won’t count toward their degree completion. In the past, they might have no way of knowing—until it’s too late—the impact of those decisions on their financial aid, overall cost of tuition and fees, and time to completion.

At best, the advising systems in place today, typically more of a “degree audit” system, don’t support proactive, continuous advising or degree planning and students are often surprised by missing requirements just before graduation. With Workday Student, the rich data associated with program-of-study requirements, course enrollment history, and the respective academic plan informs registration activities within a single, unified user experience.

Our customers can also use the rich data they collect throughout the recruitment and admissions process to make recommendations for remedial courses that can be completed before a student even steps foot on campus or logs into his or her first online class. By proactively tackling remediation before the required coursework begins, students can save time and money, get a strong academic start, and more likely persist and complete their programs.

With Workday Student, institutions have greater insight into course scheduling, advisors have more time for one-on-one academic planning and counseling, and students are given all the tools they need to stay focused and progressing towards their degree throughout their college career.

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