New Online Degree Planner Aims to Increase 4-Year Graduation Rate

noma diploma grad capSonoma State University is taking a step toward raising its four-year graduation rate with the launch this month of an online degree planner to help students plan their path to a degree. The planner integrates with the recently implemented Seawolf Scheduler and promises to make registration an easier process for students.

"This tool allows students to see, course by course, the courses they will take from day one until the day they graduate," says Sean Johnson, senior director of Reporting and Analytics.


Using information about typical course offerings from the Sonoma State catalog, as well as pre-requirements for all courses, the tool gives students a practical road map toward their academic degree.


Data from the planner will also help academic departments plan for and adjust classes years out based on demand. Data from the planner gives a glimpse into how many students are planning on taking a given course in future semesters, allowing faculty to plan course offerings from a position of knowledge.


Faculty will also have the ability to reach out to students who are planning on taking a class before making changes to it.


Though it is not required to register, the more students who use the Degree Planner, the more accurate the data will be. "The power of this tool really comes into play when the entire student population is using it," says Johnson.


Vanessa Bascherini, academic advisor for Social Sciences and Undeclared students, received positive feedback from students who used the planner in a trial run last semester. "Students found it really fascinating and helpful," she says. "I think this is something that they have been wanting, so I'm optimistic there will be a lot of immediate buy-in."


The new degree planner will ease the process of registration. "When this is all working perfectly, we are talking about four to five clicks, and you're done with registration for the term," says Johnson.


Alison Wagner, a transfer student now in her senior year, hopes the new planner will remove the stress of registering for classes while balancing her work and school schedule. "I think this is a great idea," she says. "This will be really helpful, especially for transfer students with different course requirements at their new school."


Sonoma State is the fourth campus to implement the online degree planner, behind San Marcos, Chico and Long Beach. CSU Dominguez Hills is introducing the planner to its campus this spring, and several other campuses are expected to roll out similar planners over the next year or so.

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