WEB EXCLUSIVE! Degree audit is big hit on web

by Courtney Kirkland

After two years of anticipation, Simpson students are now able to access their degree audits online.

As of last Monday, all Simpson students should have received a mass e-mail from John Bolen, the associate academic dean and registrar, explaining the college’s new tool.

Bolen said the idea to put degree audits online came about three years ago and since then, over the course of the past two years, Simpson’s registrar’s office and information services department have been dedicated to making the online degree audits available to students.

“There had been talk about putting the degree audits online for years,” said Bolen. “Finally I said we’re going to do it–we need to do it.”

Although the new technology is convenient and easy for students to use, Bolen said a lot of hard work went into installing and perfecting the degree audits. According to him, before any work began, he and members of his staff attended special training program. After that, (last summer) Teresa Kreykes, a junior undergraduate assistant for the computer science department at Simpson, spent a great deal of time entering all of the degree audit programs before teaming up with Bolen this fall to test and ensure the program’s effectiveness.

Kreykes, however, did not have access to any student records while programming the degree audits. Finally, all department chairs had a chance to review the program materials to assure the accuracy of the degree audit program.

Simpson College has owned the software needed for the online degree audit for many years so Bolen said it would be difficult to calculate the exact cost of adding the program. He said that all updates to the software have been free so far, and he estimated past labor expenses at approximately $3300.

Bolen feels very positively about the new degree audit program. “I think this is a very special service Simpson is providing to its students,” he said.

According to Bolen, the registrars office has not increased its staff in quite some time, therefore, throughout the years, as enrollment has increased, their workload has as well. “Students will be able to get their information on their own, so really it’s almost equivalent to adding a staff member to the office,” said Bolen.

Bolen also said that faculty members can now use the online degree audits to check student records.

Previously, the registrar’s office would have to run the transcripts for them. Even better, as of 2005, students will be able to use their printed degree audits for their graduation applications.

Many members of the Simpson community share Bolen’s excitement.

Carol Richardson, an instructor of education and academic advisor at Simpson, said that she feels that the instant accessibility to student records will be very beneficial to her.

John Epperson, a professor of political science and academic advisor at Simpson, agrees. “This program will give the advisors the best up to date information on the student and it’s all right online,” he said. “So when there is a student who is a double-major or there are complicated situations, this program will make things a lot easier for everyone. I think it has the potential to be a great tool.”

A lot of Simpson students have not pulled up their degree audits yet and Bolen suspects most will not do so until advising time rolls around. Whenever students choose to take a look, Bolen said for them to keep in mind that the degree audit is based on the 2001-2003 catalog and that if a student is working from an earlier catalog some discrepancies may occur.

Also, Bolen said students should be aware that the amount of credits calculated in the “remaining” section of the degree audit may not be all the student has left before graduation.

“The ‘remaining’ section does not take into account how many credits a student may have unfulfilled in Cornerstones or in the student’s major because in some circumstances (such as grade received, changed major, or transferring issues) a course may not count toward these requirements”, said Bolen

Bolen said that for students transferring in undesignated credits, exceptions can be made. As long as the student has documentation to prove he/she completed the course and a written note from the department chair authorizing the exception.

Bolen said any student who has a problem or question about the degree audit program should contact the registrar’s office.