Need advising help? Good luck with KAPS

Last Friday, students, advisers, faculty and administrators participated in a technology focus group to discuss problems with the university’s academic guidance program, namely the Kent Academic Progress System.

But if you’ve ever tried to use KAPS, and you had no idea what you were doing, we don’t blame you.

KAPS, which is available through Web for Students, measures academic progress and indicates what courses students need to take in their major. After filling out the reports, academic departments can utilize resources more efficiently by understanding what classes students are taking.

Simple, right? We wish.

As several students at the forum noted, KAPS is not user-friendly.

KAPS may be confusing because of its jargon, interim university registrar Susan Cole said. The program was originally created by Miami University and contains a few terms that don’t apply to Kent State. Changing that jargon to recognizable terms is difficult, Cole said.

“This is purchased software,” the Daily Kent Stater reported Cole saying. “We have to be careful how we change the program because of copyright issues. It makes it hard to take advantage of upgrades the vender provides.”

Cole explained KAPS’ problems are different from person to person. Feedback about the program is mixed, she said, and although some students like KAPS, others have no idea how to use it.

“That’s because there are colleges on this campus that are more involved using the program than others,” she said.

Which presents yet another problem. Kent State has no formal, university-wide advising system. Several advisers at the meeting emphasized colleges need to standardize the advising process, the Stater reported.

In six colleges on campus, students can use a program called AdvisorTrac to schedule advising appointments. Instead of using AdvisorTrac, which some consider cumbersome, students in the College of Education, Health and Human Services can schedule advising appointments online – a much more convenient solution.

We’re sure many faculty would like to do the same.

Faculty and administrators also discussed incorporating technology into the advising process. Possible ideas included using text messaging to send students important updates via their cell phones. Other ideas included two-way communication such as instant messaging.

While we recognize the forum’s appreciation of convenience, such “hip” technological advising techniques are trendy and impractical, not to mention impersonal.

Replacing old advising methods with high-tech solutions could also create a “technological rift” among students, as some at the forum stated.

We agree with those at the meeting who emphasized the importance of face-to-face interaction and the need to incorporate “high tech” with “high touch.”

But that high-tech element needs to be something better than KAPS.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board. Aman Ali, editorial board member and student affairs reporter, did not contribute to that opinion.