New tools in MyUI, the student portal to the University of Iowa student-information system, are helping students chart their path to graduation by mapping out the courses they plan to take each year at Iowa.
- Schedule Builder builds conflict-free schedules based on student preferences and provides one-click registration. Students can create 10 schedules at a time, set filters for course location and/or distance learning, and block times for work, practices, or other activities. Schedules can be built ahead of registration time, and advisors can view saved schedules.
- Sample Plans of Study is a centralized repository of recommended coursework for various majors. The Office of the Registrar worked with undergraduate programs to develop the new repository of Sample Plans, which outline the recommended coursework and sequence for programs of study. More than 300 Sample Plans have been published, representing programs from nine colleges. Sample Plans can be exported to a student’s MyPlan as a starting point for long-term course planning. They are publicly available so prospective students can also use them. Work is underway to add Sample Plans for minors, certificates, and graduate programs.
- MyPlan is a student’s individualized plan of study. It allows students to chart out semesters for their entire UI career with a handy drag-and-drop interface. It integrates with degree audit, which checks to see if students are on track to meet graduation requirements. It also alerts for prerequisites and allows envisioning “what if” scenarios to see how completed courses would fit if a student changed or added a major or minor.
Use of the tools continues to grow. Schedule Builder was used by over 19,000 students in fall 2018, and 3,900 students have created 5,830 MyPlans. Two-thirds of MyPlans were created from a Sample Plan.
Together the curricular planning tools are the biggest change the UI has made to its registration system since it moved to the web 19 years ago. Development began in 2016 when the project was selected as a strategic initiative budget opportunity, with executive sponsorship from the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Registrar, Academic Advising, University College, and Information Technology Services.
The UI Strategic Plan specifies creation of technological tools and cohesive four-year success messages that empower students to chart their course. Advisors and students say the tools do precisely that.
"For a person who is very organized and likes to be prepared for the future, the MyPlan feature was the exact tool I needed to figure out my academic career at Iowa,” says Joseph Verry, a first-year student majoring in biomedical engineering on a pre-medicine track, from Coralville.
Verry adds that his favorite feature is the ability to export his plan for a semester to the Schedule Builder.
"It significantly decreases the stress of making sure that you are taking the classes you need for your degree," he says.
Kate Torno, a senior academic advisor for English and creative writing, believes building a MyPlan fuels students’ confidence to graduate on time.
"Students are the only ones who know what they want to accomplish, and they need to drive the organization of their time and course choices,” Torno says. “These tools give the students the ability to truly own their education and progress towards graduation.”
Advisors say the tools help students manage workloads, to accomplish their goals while being realistic about what they can fit in. When students utilize the tools to start the planning process before advising meetings, there is more time for discussing life goals or optimizing course combinations.
“It's great to sit across from students and see how much they enjoy talking through a long-term plan,” says Dana Gravesen, an advisor in the Academic Advising Center. “I’ve started many plans with students, but sometimes they start their own and it provides a springboard for questions when they are here.”
Megan Allen, registrar in the College of Engineering, says the tools help students think through how best to line up courses and avoid feeling overwhelmed. They also provide a visual aid and help students see how extra-curricular experiences like co-ops, research, or internships may factor into graduation dates.
“We have come up with some great tools to assist students in building their path to graduation,” Allen says. “Combining My Plan with Schedule Builder, students can see it all come together and make adjustments as needed. This allows students to drive their own degree and figure out the many pathways to get there.”