As the fall semester reaches its halfway point, graduation has become an impending reality for seniors. Three years ago, UR launched an online system for completing the Senior Degree Audit, which assesses a students’ progress toward completing all requirements of a UR degree, a commendable step in improving a previously tedious paper process. The current system, however, frequently fails to assess students’ completion of specific majors — a problem that lies not with the Office of the Registrar, but with the departments themselves. To remedy this issue and still maintain the crucial and helpful role of the Senior Degree Audit, the evaluation of the completion of a major should be separated from the rest of the audit.
As the system works currently, the audit, which is available to students beginning in the spring of their junior year, informs students whether they have accurately completed a variety of graduation requirements, including the writing requirement, clusters, a minimum GPA and a minimum number of credit hours. All of these can be assessed using the online audit process because the requirements are clearly codified — only a few possible options fulfill each category.
The audit system does not function as well for assessing whether students have fulfilled a major’s requirements because of the complexity of certain degree curriculums and the more choice-driven qualities of certain majors. For example, the degree audit is frequently incapable of assessing the completion of the English major because English majors can choose from many different courses to fulfill requirements, in addition to which the course numbers that fulfill requirements change from year to year. A computerized system, therefore, is inadequate for assessing the completion of the major and results in unnecessary panic on the part of students who erroneously believe they have not finished their major after submitting the audit.
Prior to spring course registration on Nov. 5, each senior will receive an email clearly stating what requirements they still need to complete. Before this email is sent out, individual departments assess each student and determine whether they have completed major requirements. Because this process will be happening anyway, it seems unnecessary to include an assessment of majors on the audit, as this will only lead to unnecessary hassle for department members and potential confusion and anxiety for students.
The Office of the Registrar works closely with departments each year to find ways to improve the online system’s ability to assess degree completion, according to Registrar and Assistant Dean Nancy Speck. The degree audit process would be better accomplished by separating out degree completion, perhaps by moving this to a paper system, from the otherwise beneficial process of auditing degrees.