College of Arts and Sciences updates audit system

Lindsay Freed, Senior Staff Writer

The College of Arts and Sciences was the final school to end the use of CATS reports last week.

The entire University has moved to a new audit system to track academic progress: Degree Works. Some students said they are already experiencing problems.

CAS gained access to Degree Works Feb. 5, and is the last of the seven undergraduate colleges to do so since implementation began in October 2016.

This is because it is the largest academic unit, University Registrar Veronika Carter said.

The outdated nature of the CATS report is one of the reasons the University started looking for a replacement system in 2015, deciding on Degree Works because it is one of the top degree audit systems in the country, Carter said.

“Over time, we realized that we needed to find a new product that would meet all of our needs and stay current with the technology,” she said.

The new degree audit compiles information in a simpler visual layout and clearly shows the progress you’re making and all the things you need to do to graduate, whereas the CATS report was overly-complicated and difficult to navigate, Associate Dean Abigail McGowan said.

“It was just difficult to feel confident in,” she said. “The information was there, but it was hard to see it.”

The new degree audit is much easier to use and more convenient, sophomore Liz Chambers said.

“It’s pretty easy to project your coursework with,” Chambers said. “I added a math minor and seeing [what I needed] down the road was great with this program.”

Some students, like junior Tim Quesnell and sophomore Carolynn Van Arsdale, have noticed discrepancies between the CATS report and new degree audit.

The audit listed a course he took in two places in the report, under a general college requirement and under a major requirement, but only marked it as complete under the general college requirement, Quesnell said.

“The new degree audit is more functional than the old one used by the University, but it is still not perfect,” Quesnell said.

Some of the courses listed in the new system don’t match up with the classes listed in the requirements for Van Arsdale’s political science major, she said.

“This makes it difficult for me to know what courses qualify for the remaining requirements I have,” Van Arsdale said.

Discrepancies occur because of the level of specificity required when marking which courses fulfil certain requirements, McGowan said.

The college had people going through the CATS reports and degree audits of every junior and senior to make sure all graduation requirements were transferred over because of this, she said.

“For now, it makes sense for everyone to take a look and be able to say ‘oh, that should be fixed,’” McGowan said.

The first school to start using Degree Works was the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences in October 2016, and the software launch was staggered among the other colleges over the course of the following year, Carter said.

CAS was the last college to gain access to Degree Works because it is the largest of the seven colleges and has the biggest variety of majors and concentrations, McGowan said.

“Starting out with the smaller units in order to get some of the bugs out and in order to figure out where issues lay was really helpful,” she said. “When they came to us, we had a stronger sense of what the issues were and plan more strategically.”