Minal Chawla is a junior health science major and a journalism minor.
College students use Degreeworks to view what should be up-to-date information about their academic progress towards graduation. During the last few semesters, I, along with other SBU students, have noticed that this degree-audit program can become confusing as it does not always reflect the new curriculum for some majors and minors. The degree-applicable courses that are required to graduate on Degreeworks are not consistent with those of the Stony Brook Undergraduate Bulletin, which provides information on degree programs, details about majors and minors, and course descriptions.
This web-based advising tool allows students, academic advisors and department chairs to see which major, minor, specialization and general education requirements have been fulfilled and which ones still need to be completed. Advanced Placement courses, transfer credits and study abroad credits are also reflected in Degreeworks. This online platform is crucial for students because it provides them with their academic history in college, so that they can then plan their classes ahead of time.
Students who depend on financial aid programs, like the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) or the Excelsior Scholarship, need to know what classes are degree-applicable in order to maintain their financial aid eligibility. Not updating Degreeworks especially impacts these students because each semester, they must take a set number of degree-applicable credits to receive their financial aid. When the Undergraduate Bulletin and Degreeworks do not reflect the required courses of financial aid recipients, they could have a higher chance of losing their eligibility that semester.
Three weeks ago I declared a journalism minor. To plan out my schedule for this semester, I referred to the journalism minor requirements on the Undergraduate Bulletin, which indicated that I need 21 credits to complete my minor, whereas Degreeworks stated that I need 18 credits and a different set of required classes for the minor. Confused about which classes I needed to enroll in before the add/drop deadline, I reached out to my advisor at the beginning of the semester, who recommended that I follow the course schedule on the Undergraduate Bulletin until the new requirements are incorporated into Degreeworks.
I have been using Degreeworks since my first year of college to see how my completed courses count toward my major, and I have not encountered difficulty in tracking my progress.
As I said before, students rely on both of these platforms for accurate information regarding their classes and schedules, and now as many students are living off-campus, they do not have immediate access to on-campus academic advisors. Therefore, the university must regularly update Degreeworks in order to keep students informed about new requirements for majors and minors.
After my experience of being informed about outdated minor requirements on Degreeworks, I decided to reach out to other students to find out if they had similar concerns. Kiara Arias, who is a senior majoring in political science, said that she has reached out to her academic advisor after she needed help scheduling the remaining classes of her senior year.
“I went last summer to Advising because the Undergraduate Bulletin hadn’t been updated,” Arias said. “Since then, I have had to email Advising to know which classes to take and I have no idea how far along I am in the minor.”
Academic Advising is instrumental in providing students with the latest course information and guiding them towards the path to graduation. I am not living on-campus and am studying remotely this semester, so I have been in constant touch with my advisors. I scheduled multiple Zoom meetings with them at the beginning of the semester to receive academic assistance and to plan my schedule. Graduating on time is a priority of mine, so I need to ensure that I am enrolled in classes that fulfill my degree requirements each semester.
Although some students have complained that Degreeworks does not provide the correct information regarding the classes for certain majors, causing an inconvenience when mapping out their academic journeys, it is certainly a useful platform for most college students.
Pujan Patel, a junior who is studying applied mathematics and statistics, said that Degreeworks is a great tool to keep track of credit and degree requirements. He finds the “What-If” audits to be helpful in determining class schedules in the semesters to come.
“The only downfall of Degreeworks is the regularity in which it is updated,” Patel said. “Some of the major requirements were not updated for me, so it becomes difficult to plan my classes and because it is updated in an untimely manner, all the great tools that it has are not even useful.”
Degreeworks is beneficial because it provides all of the necessary information in one place and allows for students to track how much of the curriculum they have completed so far, and to also see how many credit hours are left. It can be a great resource for both students and advisors, but it must be regularly updated with the latest information for all majors and minors.