Indiana State University Newsroom



New software helps incoming students chart 4-year graduation path

June 21, 2013

When Indiana State University student Casey Powers recently decided to switch majors, she charted her next steps on a first-of-its-kind program that facilitates students' pathway to four-year graduation.

Powers, a sophomore health psychology major from Terre Haute, used the degree mapping tool in My Student Academic Map (MySAM) to plan the courses that she will take this fall while keeping an eye on subsequent semesters. MySAM is a suite of tools to help students create a plan to complete a bachelor's degree in four years. The degree mapping tool includes information on critical courses required in each major, along with a template to provide students with a perspective on what classes should be taken each semester.

"It shows the classes you should have, and it shows you a better way to figure out when you need to take them and how far you have left to go," said Powers, who is on pace to graduate in four years. "It also shows the minimum grades you need for some of those classes in your major, so that helps a lot too."

MySAM includes degree mapping plans, worksheets, notes and a grade point average calculator to provide insights as students work with their adviser to schedule their coursework at Indiana State. The program template includes required classes that students need to take before they can advance in their major. This will vary for each student based on the credits they have completed or their level of proficiency when enrolling at Indiana State.

"It allows students to see that path of coursework without someone just telling them," said Linda Maule, dean of University College. "It allows them to be fully informed that if they stay on (a particular) path, what it means and how long it's going to take."

MySAM is an integral component of the Sycamore Graduation Guarantee announced last year. The guarantee initiative ensures that participating students who fulfill the requirements are able to graduate with a bachelor's degree in four years; otherwise they will be able to take their remaining courses tuition free.

Each student who is part of the guarantee is using MySAM to create a unique plan to complete their coursework in four years. MySAM allows for each student's credits and coursework to be charted properly.

The tools can also help students plan for different circumstances, such as if they want to study abroad or take a semester-long internship. All Indiana State students eventually will use MySAM to create their own individualized plan.

"We begin to provide them with insights to help them make informed decisions," Maule said. "We don't want to dictate anybody's future, but we want people to make informed decisions."

The program has been introduced to first-year students who went through new student orientation this month. Indiana State freshman Haley Gravely learned about MySAM from her adviser, who explained the basics and helped Gravely register for fall classes.

"I think it makes (scheduling) a lot easier," said Gravely, a President's Scholar from Greenwood. "Obviously the first semester is not exactly going to be the (most difficult) classes, but later I saw some of the 301 and 401 (courses), and I wasn't sure what to use, so it's nice to know that they give advice for planning."

Students can look ahead to see the courses that they will be required to take, which then allows them to plan around those classes, Powers said. "Some classes were only offered in the fall, so I had to take those," she added. "Otherwise, I would be a whole year behind."

Powers learned about the program before most Indiana State students. She was briefed on the program through her job in the university's Office of Registration and Records. Her mother, Susan Powers, associate vice president for academic affairs at Indiana State who has worked closely on the MySAM implementation, helped her initially navigate the program.

Indiana State is the first university in the state to be using the degree mapping feature, Susan Powers said, though such a program will be required in the near future for all of the state's public universities.

"The new legislation that impacts the incoming class in fall 2014 requires all state public institutions to provide a degree map that is a roadmap for how students will progress and graduate in four years," Susan Powers said. "We are doing that now and are ready to go."

For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions, visit http://www.indstate.edu/registrar/MySam.htm.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/New-Student-Orientation-2013/New-Student-Orientation/i-ScqHXrR/0/L/June%2013%2C%202013-NSO%20Advising%208069-L.jpg (ISU/Rachel Keyes)An incoming Indiana State University student in an advising session during new student orientation. Students at the session were introduced to MySAM, a suite of tools to help students create a plan to complete a bachelor's degree in four years.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/New-Student-Orientation-2013/New-Student-Orientation/i-ksmwxfn/0/L/June%2013%2C%202013-NSO%20Advising%208066-L.jpg (ISU/Rachel Keyes)An incoming Indiana State University student talking with an adviser during new student orientation. Students during the session learned about MySAM, which helps keep students on a path to graduate with a bachelor's degree in four years. The program includes a template that features the critical classes and the recommended semesters in which they should be taken.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/i-6Lp5kHT/0/L/i-6Lp5kHT-L.jpg (Submitted photo)Screen shot of MySAM, which is a critical component of the Sycamore Graduation Guarantee. The initiative ensures that participating students who fulfill the requirements are able to graduate with a bachelor's degree in four years; otherwise they will be able to take their remaining courses tuition free.

Contact: Linda Maule, dean, University College, Indiana State University, 812-237-3940 or linda.maule@indstate.edu

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu\

Story Highlights

MySAM is a suite of tools to help students create a plan to complete a bachelor's degree in four years in conjunction with the Sycamore Graduation Guarantee. MySAM assists students in planning their experience to help achieve their unique goals.

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