Degree audits, schedule planners aid students with registration


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State Daily

Academic adviser Linda DeLisle works with An Lee, junior in advertising, on her registration checklist during a workshop offered by the school on March 25, 2013. 

Jessi Wilson

March 25, 2013 marked the first day of summer and fall 2013 registration, but it’s not too late to utilize tools on campus for a hassle-free registration.

Jason Chrystal, political science academic adviser, explained that course availability and classes becoming full quickly cause the most frustration among students during registration.

“‘I’m a senior. Why am I not [registering] immediately on March 25?’” Chrystal quoted a frustrated student. “But, it comes down to the calculus that is used to generate the start date.”

Registration dates are determined by the Office of the Registrar.

“It’s just a calculation of student credit hours that they have already previously earned and what they are potentially earning, usually based on the tenth day of the semester.” Chrystal said. “Of course, individuals who are student athletes, on scholarship or in the honors program, they register the first two or three days.”

Chrystal said he tells students being prepared for registration will help them avoid problems.

“I am that type of adviser where I ask students to take responsibility of their education and start becoming adults,” Chrystal said. “Just be naturally curious about your education. Do your homework. Know what you need, and then know what you want, and always have a backup plan.”

One way students can prepare for registration is the degree audit feature of AccessPlus.

“The degree audit is a tool that is used by students, advisers and the staff in my office,” said Laura Doering, university registrar.

Doering explained this tool is used to track a student’s academic progress toward their degree, including credits from Iowa State and transfer work from other institutions. Both Chrystal and Doering said they find this tool beneficial to students.

“Then they’re not taking classes they don’t need to take, and that benefits the students financially as well as saving their time,” Doering said.

Another benefit of the degree audit, which Doering said she feels is easy to read, is that it saves students from using the university catalog to keep track of what courses they still need to take in order to meet their degree’s requirements.

“It is not a perfect tool,” Chrystal said, “but it allows students to see what classes they have taken and received college credit for.”

The degree audit is not the only way students can plan their upcoming semesters. Chrystal also recommends using Iowa State’s Schedule of Classes site to find information on instructors.

“In many instances, they’ll have the names of the instructors that are supposed to be teaching for the summer, fall or spring,” Chrystal said. “Don’t be afraid to go to an instructor and say, ‘Okay, so there’s a class called Electronic Democracy; I read the description, but what else can you tell me about what you do in the class and the types of evaluations?’”

Chrystal said that many instructors who have taught their courses multiple times know what information they can share with students to best fit their needs. Reaching out to instructors may also be a way to fix registration issues.

“Many of the instructors that I know personally or have engaged in conversation [with] are really receptive to have students, especially seniors, get in on a class or be added to that class,” Chrystal said.

Doering recommends students also take advantage of the Class Schedule Planner, developed from a model created by a former ISU student, which has the capability of generating 10,000 schedule options for one set of classes.

“It’s such a nice tool,” Doering said. “It allows students to go in, select their semester, which department they want, which classes they want and then add classes to create a schedule.”

Features of the class schedule planner include full lists of classes offered on campus and sections and times offered for each particular course. Students can use this tool to generate mock schedules to find one that best meets their needs.