Insights - The university texas san antonio
University of Texas at San Antonio

Students chart a clear path to graduation and a career.

Challenge

Simplify and improve the degree planning and advising system for students 

Results
  • Increase in graduation rate 
  • Improved degree-planning process  
  • Transformed and improved advising process 

How the University of Texas at San Antonio transformed the degree planning and student advising processes. 

Five years ago, the CIO at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) reviewed some sobering survey responses from students about their degree-completion experience. What was the top reason they claimed they weren’t graduating in four years? Gaps in the advising process. 

Looking to improve the graduation rate, the CIO created a partnership with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and Academic Advising to more thoroughly evaluate student advising and to find degree-planning tools that could help keep students engaged and on track for graduation. 

“The feedback about incorrect advising was really eye-opening,” says Vanessa Hammler Kenon, assistant vice provost for IT. “So, the CIO and I went out and met with every single advising team on campus. There are more than 100 advisors, with full-time advisors responsible for a minimum of 200 students—and we encountered the staggering amount of hard-copy-only processes that both students and advisors were tasked with keeping track of.” 

To address some of the issues causing deficiencies in advising—from the high volume of paper and outdated information-sharing systems to differences in the advising process throughout the university—UTSA implemented Ellucian Degree Works™, an online degree-planning tool. 

To encourage students to use the degree-planning tool, UTSA developed a campaign to prove how useful the tool could be, especially for transfer students who often encounter expensive roadblocks that traditional students don’t have to deal with. 

What’s most difficult about the whole degree-planning process is associating a degree with a career. With Degree Works, I have everything planned out until I graduate, and I can better focus on what my degree is building toward.

Edgar Guajardo, junior, The University of Texas at San Antonio