CLA advisers’ tracking system keeps students on course for graduation

The U is now working to make systems like ETS available for all colleges.
February 03, 2010

Academic adviser Chad Horsley has more than 340 students to keep track of every day. He used to have to look up enrollment information for every student manually if he wanted to check up on their progress toward graduation.
Now, a program called the Enrollment Tracking System (ETS) is helping advisers keep an eye on their students in real time. Because of federal stimulus money the program received last year, a University-wide expansion to the program is underway and expected to be completed within 18 months.
The system alerts advisers every morning if any students have added or dropped classes, dropped below 13 credits, haven’t registered or aren’t on track to graduate on time.
“Before this, you’d have to go to each student’s records manually,” said Horsley, an adviser in College of Liberal Arts’ Health and Natural Sciences Student Community. “It just wasn’t something that was part of our normal, everyday process because it is incredibly time-consuming.”
The program launched in CLA about two years ago, and the University is now working to have similar systems available for all colleges, said Chris Kearns, assistant dean for CLA student services. Currently, CLA is the only college using the system.
The program combines many different resources and pieces of information that already existed for advisers but were confusing or time-consuming to access, said Colin Delong, coordinator of technology and analysis for CLA student services.
“We’ve tried to tie up a bunch of different data sources at the U,” he said. “We’ve been working on it with advisers collaboratively through that whole time to find out what information they need.”
Colleges may customize the system to meet their specific needs, Kearns said, which could affect when ETS is available University-wide.
However, he said interest in the system is strong, especially since CLA has seen positive results.
When the program was first implemented in CLA, Horsley said some advisers voiced frustration about the system adding more responsibilities to their already heavy workloads.
“At the beginning, some people felt [ETS] was burdensome and cumbersome,” he said.
However, he said kinks in the program were quickly worked out and overall the system has been helpful for advisers and students.
“The timing and the quality of the contact between advisers and students has been significantly improved,” Kearns said. “We can connect and work out a plan with the student in time to keep challenges from becoming disasters,” he said.
The program has not only been helpful for advisers but for students as well, Horsley said.
“Overall the response from students has been very positive,” he said. “Walk-in visits have increased, and people scheduling appointments on a regular basis has increased. It helps students to know somebody knows what’s going on and to have that personal contact.”
The idea for this kind of system has been tossed around for about a decade, Delong said, but only recently has it been able to become a reality.
“It’s only in the last few years that we’ve had the technological infrastructure in place to connect all these pieces together,” Delong said.

Comment Policy

The Minnesota Daily welcomes thoughtful discussion on all of our stories, but please keep comments civil and on-topic. Read our full guidelines here.
Minnesota Daily Serving the University of Minnesota Community since 1900