By Troi Charity
GPC students have a new tool to help them track their progress toward a degree.
The college unveiled the new software called DegreeWorks in March 2013 for students to personally see where they are towards their degree. The program, purchased in 2011 from software company Ellucian, was selected by the University System of Georgia (USG) to be used by all 31 institutions.
GPC Registrar Douglas Ruch said, “It is part of the initiative to enhance advising across the system.” After GPC staff completed training on the software, they began testing the program and added the school’s list of majors.
Ruch said the school will continue to use the trade name DegreeWorks since it is universal in the USG and can be recognized by the same name even after students leave GPC.
“Since GPC has a large number of students who transfer to us from other University System of Georgia schools and a lot of our students transfer to those schools, it seemed logical to us to keep the name,” said Ruch. “Students would recognize it and know what it can do for them when they either come here or transfer to another USG school.”
Students might not know but any full-time faculty member at GPC can access their information in DegreeWorks by searching through their student ID number.
“All full-time faculty have access to DegreeWorks,” said Ruch. “While faculty have advisees assigned to them, quite often they advise students who are not assigned to them or are in different majors.”
Faculty who do not have advisees also have access to the program.
“Faculty who assist with new student orientations also need access to students in DegreeWorks who are not their advisees in order to assist with advisement and registration,” said Ruch.
DegreeWorks is still in a development phase. According to Ruch, it is about “95 percent” accurate when helping students.
“We are continuously making adjustments to get to that 100 percent mark,” said Ruch. “There are some software limitations that did not allow us to program some of our majors as straight forward as we would have liked.”
GPC Student Wilford Esselburn had never heard of the program but gave it a couple of minutes to see how it worked.
“Helpful but does not factor time of start of the degree which differs from current requirements and also transfer credit,” said Esselburn.
However, Ruch is hopeful that DegreeWorks will continue to improve in the future.
“With the next version of the software, we will be able to implement ‘Plans,’ ” said Ruch. “This will allow students and their advisors to plan out the courses the student will take in future terms.”
Ruch is looking forward to this implementation scheduled for Summer 2014.