New Cloud-based Advising Tool puts Student Experience First

The most obvious benchmark for a college student’s success is when they cross the stage at graduation. During a student’s time at the University of Maryland, advisors play a critical role in helping a student navigate the academic landscape. Meaningful engagement between students and advisors can help guide a student’s passion and strengths, keep struggling students on track, and help them enter the professional world prepared.

Yet, how students and advisors communicate at UMD varies from program to program, and therein lies the challenge for students. Currently, advisors across campus operate a number of different platforms to schedule appointments with students, and to track and manage a student’s academic advising interactions and decisions; the variety of systems—ranging from unit-specific third-party tools to excel sheets to old-school paper files—often means there is no single, comprehensive advising record for each student, particularly if the student is pursuing more than one major or minor across different academic units. The lack of a comprehensive, campus-wide way for advisors to share information easily with each other and with students—often leaves students to navigate different, and sometimes conflicting advice. 

A new cloud-based advising solution currently in development by UMD’s Administration Modernization Program, could help advisors realize a more personal, tailored experience for students at Maryland, by ensuring students receive the same quality and continuity of service across the board, regardless of their major. Powered by the campus-wide Salesforce effort as part of a larger student success initiative at UMD, this new advising tool will serve as a centralized digital warehouse for student advising records, enabling advisors across campus to easily access and share student data, documents, appointment notes and advising details. More importantly, the intuitive, streamlined approach will personalize advisor/student interactions, and empower students throughout their academic experience. Solution features include: 

  • A mobile-ready appointment scheduling system 
  • No more duplicate files: one centralized location holds just one student record per student
  • A streamlined process that cuts administration time, providing advisors more time to work with students
  • Student access to their own records, appointment notes and recommendations
  • Advising notes integration allows advisors to share advising notes, and attach e-mail correspondence to student records
  • Electronic file storage creates a completely digitized system that includes paper advising documents

Over 30 advisors from BMGT, BSOS, CMNS and JOURN were tapped to share current challenges and inform the features, functionality and design of the advising appointment system, which is the first phase of a pilot program currently under way. The pilot results will help shape the tool’s effectiveness and future functionality for campus-wide use. 

A later phase of implementation hopes to allow advisors to capitalize on another benefit: data analytics. This critical tool will allow advisors to look at historical data for students and coursework to determine the best paths for success. For instance, if a student wanted to take two courses simultaneously, an advisor could look at success rates of other students who took those classes together in the past. Data analytics also cuts the learning curve of new advisors by providing institutional knowledge. 

“The ultimate goal of the advising tool is make the whole process more streamlined and efficient for students and advisors, allowing the advisors more time to ensure meaningful advising experiences for students,” said Natalie Weinstein, AMP project manager. Follow the advising pilot progress here.

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