Majors can now be changed online

Carrie Blazina

Students interested in changing or declaring their major no longer have to fill out a form that travels manually throughout various departments on campus and collects approval signatures from a wide range of officials — the whole process can all now be done online.

Jeff Gardner, associate university registrar, said the paper process really was not that different than the new online form, which launched in early March.

“The online process is really very similar in terms of what it’s trying to do,” he said. “It’s simply a new vehicle for doing the approval process.”

Gardner said to access the form, a student simply has to log into FlashLine — which takes the place of a student’s paper signature in terms of authorization — and click on the “Student Tools and Courses” tab. From there, a student selects the “Undergraduate Change of Program” form under the “Advising/GPS” section.

Gardner said students can complete the form on their own without an adviser’s help or approval, but he said the office does not recommend making changes without talking to an adviser first.

“While it’s not officially necessary, it really should be done, just because we don’t want students to go in and start making changes [when] they’re not fully aware of the possible consequences,” he said.

Students can use the new “workflow” program to change their major, minor, catalog year or concentration and add a second major or second degree program.

Jude Rule, the director for the exploratory advising center, said the biggest advantage of the new program is the speed at which requests can be processed compared to the paper process.

“The paper form tended to take a little bit longer, mostly because it had to physically travel from place to place to collect various signatures,” she said. “All of that has been replaced by this workflow system.”

Gardner said it now usually takes just a few days to process a change, and some requests can be completed within one business day.

Rule said another advantage of the online program is the ability to track a request’s progress.

“Anyone on campus who is working with this system has the ability to see what’s happening,” she said. “We didn’t have that before.”

Gardner said the online program is not something that came about quickly — the university started developing it in October 2009. Rule said the university has been trying to implement paperless processes in a variety of disciplines, but the change to doing the process online does not particularly save money or time for advisers.

“It’s not like [this] doesn’t take human intervention,” Rule said. “Even the workflow, it doesn’t just go into the FlashLine system. It still requires a human being to do the changes that are necessary.”

Rule said her center’s advisers piloted the program this semester when students came back from winter break because their changes tend to be simpler than some other students’.

“We ran a pilot here, probably because our students are almost exclusively going from one direction to another direction,” she said. “Students go from undergraduate studies to a college … so it’s a good place to pilot it.”

Some of the changes that are less simple cause the process to be a bit more lengthy, Gardner said. For example, the workflow is only set up to handle one request at a time, so a student changing his or her major and minor would have to change the major first and wait for that to be approved before submitting a separate request to change his or her minor.

There are some changes, however, that cannot be made online. These include declaring a bachelor of general studies degree, or declaring pre-professional program majors such as pharmacy or medicine.

Gardner said post-secondary students and graduate students cannot use the program either, but said the vast majority of changes can still be made online.

Rule pointed out the process can be stopped at any time if students’ choices don’t make sense or there are prerequisites that haven’t been met.

“We are being rather thorough in going in and looking to make sure this is indeed consistent with what the student has been discussing all along,” she said, “… just to make sure what they selected, what they clicked on, is what they really want before we let it go forward in the approval process.”

Despite the potential for confusion, Gardner and Rule said advisers and students have responded positively to the new program. Gardner said as of last week, there had been more than 1,900 requests submitted through the workflow.

“It will save time for students,” Gardner said. “I think once students get familiar with the terminology and how to use it, I think they’ll find it to be a nice tool for them.”

“We’re all trained for it, we’ve been working on it and preparing for it so I think it’s gone really, really well,” Rule said.

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].