San Marcos,
14:33 PM

Degree, Set, Go: Reserve your classes now, get your diploma sooner

By David Ogul

Cal State San Marcos is making it easier than ever for students to earn their diploma faster.

While the fall semester is just underway, it’s also the perfect time for students to review and select classes for spring 2017, and beyond, in their Degree Planner. The Degree Planner keeps students on track toward selecting the correct courses at the correct time in their academic career. That means reaching their graduation goal that much sooner.

The innovative, online course registration system and tracking tool not only helps students efficiently plan and navigate their way toward securing their bachelor’s degree, it also enables the university to better plan for anticipated demand.

Dubbed “Degree, Set, Go,” the campaign is part of CSUSM’s long-term vision to increase the number of students graduating in a timely manner. That vision includes an online Degree Planner and Schedule Assistant that can make setting a schedule easier than ordering a takeout dinner.

“The Degree, Set, Go campaign is meant to encourage participation in this wonderful system we have that contains some rather remarkable tools to maximize efficiencies in planning for both students and the university,” said Kamel Haddad, CSUSM’s vice provost.

The CSUSM Degree Planner is a planning tool that illustrates for students the most efficient course sequences to graduate, makes adjustments based on grades or curriculum changes, and allows the campus to predict demand for classes in upcoming semesters. The result is a more efficient and engaging experience that gives students a visual presentation of their current academic status and their future path.

Students must update their Degree Planner for Spring/Fall 2017 terms by Sept. 21 to help the University in planning the courses they need and significantly increase their chances of getting the class seats they desire.

CSUSM was chosen as one of three pilot campuses to implement Degree Planner and Schedule Assistant in large part because of its track record in using several other academic advising tools that are in place and up to date. It has been working since April 2014 with the Office of the Chancellor, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Chico to customize the program for the three campuses and other CSU campuses that might be interested in the future. CSUSM went live with the Degree Planner and Schedule Assistant in November 2014 for undeclared majors and students majoring in Applied Physics, Business Administration, Computer Science and Kinesiology, and is now coded with all majors and all minors.

The Degree Planner is based on academic roadmaps required by every department on campus to guide students in the classes they need to complete their degree. Roadmaps are inputted into Degree Planner, which adjusts for variables such as remedial courses that may be needed and AP courses that may have been completed.

The Schedule Assistant allows students to input personal schedule restrictions such as practice or work schedules, taking course sections a student chooses on the Degree Planner and providing every possible scenario that meets the added student restrictions.

Participation to date, however, has been less than hoped for. Enter the Degree, Set, Go marketing effort. Degree, Set, Go underscores that degree planning is simple with Degree Planner, a student can set his or her schedule using the Schedule Assistant, and can then go to their online shopping cart and enroll in the courses once registration opens.

The Degree Planner includes data from 82 majors and 38 minors offered at CSUSM.

CSUSM’s Degree, Set, Go initiative is in line with the California State University system’s Graduation Initiative, which seeks to boost graduation rates and eliminate the graduation rate gap between underrepresented students and their peers by 2025. Additional goals include increasing the number of freshmen who graduate within four years and increasing the number of transfer students who graduate in two years, and closing the graduation gaps between low-income students and their peers. Altogether, the system hopes to produce 100,000 additional graduates by 2025 through the initiative.

Thanks to a number of campus-wide efforts, CSUSM has seen marked success so far, raising its six-year graduation rate to 51 percent with the class of 2015 from 38 percent in 2006.

Students can learn more about using the Degree Planner through: Understanding Your Degree Planner and Enrolling From My Degree Planner.