Advising Workbench still three years away from being fully operational

Despite acting as the main conduit for students to self-assess graduation and degree requirements, the two-year-old Advising Workbench platform won't be fully operational for another three years.

As the program exists now, specific student degree information for those enrolled in seven Central Michigan University colleges remains unavailable online. This information may not be fully accessible until 2017.

Only students who enrolled at CMU in the 2011-12 academic year and later will have access to information regarding progress toward their major and minor.

Jared Peless, senior web developer and an Advising Workbench team member, said the decision to exclude students who enrolled before 2011-12 came down to timing.

“We thought that by the time we got it done, those students are likely graduating or deep into it,” Peless said. “It’s a lot of work, and (adding those students) would have delayed something else.”

The Advising Workbench team is working on information for major, minor and degree requirements and releasing it as it becomes complete, said Registrar Karen Hutslar.

Denise McBride, associated director of administrative systems delivery, said completing the Advising Workbench is a top priority for the university.

McBride added that CMU first tried the project in 2007, but it ultimately failed.

“It was not the right commitment, but now the commitment is correct,” she said.

Another roadblock of full implementation was the loss of a web developer who was instrumental in the workbench’s design.

Advising Workbench platform will replace an often complicated, paper-heavy academic bulletin system, as well as to reduce student reliance on academic advisers.

Most of all, the completed platform could give students a better understanding of how to graduate on time.

Farmington Hills senior Carleen Quint, who believed she was a lot closer to graduation than actuality, is one those students.

Communicating with CMU advisers for a year, Quint found out unexpectedly that she needed a second major to fulfill her degree requirement.

“It was frustrating because they knew I was coming,” Quint said. “There was miscommunication between the general education program and the special education program.”

Since the Advising Workbench project started in January 2012, university officials have been making progress on bridging the disconnect between students and meticulous graduation rules.

Not only do students have access to the information, but advisers and faculty members can also view a student’s information to make answering questions about courses and degree development easier, Hutslar said.

In three years, McBride envisions a system that will revolutionize the way students understand their course schedules and degree progress, as well as create a more efficient method of communication between students, faculty and advisers.

Most of all, she envisions a system that will help get rid of unnecessary headaches caused by a lack of advising.

“The conversation is changing,” McBride said. “The Advising Workbench gets rid of basic questions and allows students to ask very specific questions to advisers.”

“It will never replace an adviser. That is not the goal.”

How Advising Workbench works

Despite being operational for two years, the online advising system is still in the beta stage, and is beginning to take shape as it becomes functional for more and more students, said Registrar Karen Hutslar.

To find the program, students can log into CentralLink, click the “My Account” tab in the toolbar at the top of the page, and then scroll down to the “Advising Workbench” link.

Every student can use the platform to track their progress in general education requirements, their academic history, their student profile information and a listing of their academic advisors. It also shows students how many credits they have and grades for each completed course.

Only students who enrolled at CMU in the 2011-12 academic year and later will have access to information regarding progress toward their major and minor. Information available for 2011-12 students or later includes:

• Bachelor of Business

• Administration majors and minors

• Master of Science in Administration with all concentrations

• All Master degrees in education

• All Master of Public Administration degrees

Progress made on the platform

There are some colleges that do not have degree information available for students using Advising Workbench. The Advising Workbench team is working to update accessible student information by each college in this order:

1. Science and Technology

2. Education and Human Services

3. Communication and Fine Arts

4. Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences

5. Business Administration

6. Health Professions

7. Global Campus