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4 ways the Student Information System improves academic advising

Here’s how the self-service tool makes the grade
November 26, 2014

Source: University Communications Services

The new module automates clerical tasks, allowing advisors more time to focus on students. The new module automates clerical tasks, allowing advisors more time to focus on students. | Photo by Concordia University

When the new Student Information System (SIS) comes online in January 2015, an advising module will be in place to greatly enhance the academic advising process for staff and students.

The new SIS is a software package from Oracle/PeopleSoft called Campus Solutions that will replace SIMS — the university’s 32-year-old legacy system.

Here are four ways the advising module in Campus Solutions will improve service at Concordia.

1.    Students and advisors access the same advising tool, seeing the same, centralized data

“A student can run an advising assessment from their self-service portal in Campus Solutions at any time. When the student meets with an advisor, the advisor sees the same assessment, so they’re working from the same information,” says Terry Too, SIS project director.

2.    Automated clerical tasks save time and effort

Currently, advisors spend valuable time on clerical tasks — locating the calendar of the year the student was admitted, printing a copy of the student record, checking off the requirements and determining which courses the student is still missing. Those manual tasks are now streamlined within the Campus Solutions online environment. 

“The new software automatically matches the student’s courses against their degree requirements, saving time and effort,” says Too.

3.    The “What If” tool allows students to explore the impact of possible changes to their degree path

What if a student wants to transfer to a different department? To switch from a BA in History to a BA in English, for example, they can use the self-service tool to see which extra courses they’d need to complete an English degree.

The information provided is meant as a guide, but they must still meet with an advisor to discuss degree completion requirements.

Enabling students to explore these possibilities through self-service helps them prepare in advance for a more focused meeting with their advisor.

4.    More clarity around eligibility to graduate

“One of the key benefits of the advising tool is that everyone — the Office of the Registrar, students, their advisors — has the same information about a student to determine eligibility to graduate,” says Too.

According to Colleen Smith, senior service team assistant at Enrolment Services, “course substitutions and authorized student exceptions will be entered as they are approved, which will make this a more accurate and comprehensive advising tool.” Smith has been the academic advisement analyst on the SIS renewal project functional team since December 2013.

“Students, faculty and staff will now have a better understanding of academic requirements. This will improve the students’ experience at Concordia and facilitate the graduation process.”

The “Impersonate a Student” feature

“Impersonate a Student” is another feature in Campus Solutions that improves communication between students and staff. It allows advisors to see exactly what a student sees on their screen in their self-service portal.

Steve Clark, undergraduate advisor for the John Molson School of Business and the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, is particularly excited about this feature: “It’s fantastic!  Now, when students phone with questions, we’ll be literally on the same page and I can provide better guidance.”

As the SIS project hits important milestones, different types of training — instructor-led, online and coaching — is ongoing. More and more members of the Concordia user community are gaining familiarity with Campus Solutions and the many benefits it offers. Check the SIS hub for regular updates.

An institution-wide transformation

Excitement continues to build over the many improvements that the SIS provides. It supports virtually all key business functions and processes across the university, including recruitment, admissions, enrolment, academic advising, registration, course and exam scheduling, student accounts, graduation, government reporting for funding purposes and invoicing.

As the system implementation progresses, watch for updates on how different components of the SIS will benefit faculty, staff and students.

About the SIS Renewal Project

The business case for implementing a new Student Information System at Concordia was approved by the university’s Board of Governors in November 2012.

Deloitte Consulting LLP was hired as the integration partner after a rigorous bidding process, and based on its successful track record of implementing the chosen system at other North American universities.

Learn more about the new system’s benefits on the 
SIS Renewal Hub in Cspace.

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