CLA advisers’ tracking system keeps students on course for graduation

The U is now working to make systems like ETS available for all colleges.

Danielle Nordine

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, havenâÄôt registered or arenâÄôt on track to graduate on time. âÄúBefore this, youâÄôd have to go to each studentâÄôs records manually,âÄù said Horsley, an adviser in College of Liberal ArtsâÄô Health and Natural Sciences Student Community. âÄúIt just wasnâÄôt something that was part of our normal, everyday process because it is incredibly time-consuming.âÄù 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. âÄúWeâÄôve tried to tie up a bunch of different data sources at the U,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôve been working on it with advisers collaboratively through that whole time to find out what information they need.âÄù 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. âÄúAt the beginning, some people felt [ETS] was burdensome and cumbersome,âÄù he said. However, he said kinks in the program were quickly worked out and overall the system has been helpful for advisers and students. âÄúThe timing and the quality of the contact between advisers and students has been significantly improved,âÄù Kearns said. âÄúWe can connect and work out a plan with the student in time to keep challenges from becoming disasters,âÄù he said. The program has not only been helpful for advisers but for students as well, Horsley said. âÄúOverall the response from students has been very positive,âÄù he said. âÄúWalk-in visits have increased, and people scheduling appointments on a regular basis has increased. It helps students to know somebody knows whatâÄôs going on and to have that personal contact.âÄù 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. âÄúItâÄôs only in the last few years that weâÄôve had the technological infrastructure in place to connect all these pieces together,âÄù Delong said.