New “GPS” a roadmap for staying on track to graduate

Cynthia Greer via mct campus

Cynthia Greer via mct campus

Rachel Hagenbaugh

Call it an idiot’s guide to getting a college degree. The KAPS report is out; the GPS is in.

The Graduation Planning System is a roadmap that helps students plan classes and keep track of progress throughout their years at college.

Previously, advisers and students used a system called KAPS to plan courses and track graduation progress.

Robert Frank, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said the GPS would give students a better understanding of how to prepare for the upcoming semesters.

Some students drop out of college because they get confused, discouraged and off-track with their plans, said Deborah Barber, executive director of degree planning.

“Some students don’t feel like they’re getting anywhere,” said Sally Kandel, associate vice president of academic operations and administration. “We wanted to find more efficient ways to increase GPA.”

There are three components to the GPS: degree auditing, planning and tracking. The degree auditing — which will replace the KAPS report audit — and the planning features have already been tested by 85 Kent State students, and will be implemented beginning Fall 2011 for 2010 catalog students and above.

“It shows you everything you need to graduate, which is really helpful,” said Hannah Fox, a sophomore psychology major.

Michael Gershe, academic adviser and coordinator for the College of Technology, said the KAPS report used coding that was difficult for students to understand. It was also hard for advisors to make substitutions and add exceptions for classes, he added.

The degree audit will clearly show what courses the students have taken and still need to take to graduate, Kandel said.

The second component of the GPS system includes a roadmap, or a generalized plan for a student’s bachelor’s or associate’s degree. The roadmap lists the courses a student needs to take each semester to graduate in a certain amount of time.

GPS also includes an individualized plan students can set up themselves online. The roadmap is a guide, Kandel said, but based on a student’s preferences, they create their own plan.

“This plan helps students set goals and plan out their lives better,” Gershe said.

Gershe said he thinks the plan will also get some students thinking about taking a summer class. If they’ve failed a class or don’t want to take 15 credits a semester, they can account for that during a summer session.

Students who wish to study abroad or obtain a bachelor’s degree in three years could also accommodate those plans with this new system, Barber said.

Tracking is the third component of the GPS program, which will be tested in the summer of 2012. Once implemented, this system will notify advisors if a student is not on track with their plan, Barber said. The advisor will email the student and set up a time to meet and rearrange the plan to get the student back on track.

“Students spend too much time worrying about their degree requirements,” Frank said, “instead of figuring out if that major is right for them.”

Deborah Barber and four other members of the GPS team are working together to raise awareness about the new system.

“We’ve been working so hard to create this program, “ Barber said. “It’s important to inform as many students as possible.”

The GPS team created a Twitter and Facebook Page. The goal is for students to use these pages to post questions they have about the GPS. Barber said once a student posts a question, one of the three faculty members assigned to watching the page will answer within 24 hours. “The idea is to make the Facebook page a modern FAQ page, “ Barber said. “Students can get their questions answered by looking at what other people have asked.”

Contact Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected].