By Megan Zahneis, News Editor

Miami University has just launched a new BannerWeb functionality aimed at helping cure students’ academic crises.

As of this week, students can use their BannerWeb portals to run a “What If” version of their Degree Audit Report (DAR), allowing them to analyze how the courses they’ve taken correspond to a major in any degree program the university offers.

Ted Peters, an academic adviser for the College of Arts and Science, said the program lets students view their curricular progress in any major and become more informed on their academic possibilities.

“I think one of the key components of a student’s exploration is understanding not only what they’re interested in, but how the courses they’ve taken might apply to a new major, if they’re thinking about adding a second major or potentially changing their declared major,” Peters said.

The capability to run a What If DAR has long been available to academic advisers and other administrators through the native Banner platform, but had been restricted from individual users’ accounts for fear it would dissuade students from visiting academic advisers like Peters.

“This is a tool to be used in collaboration with advising,” Peters said. “It is never meant to take the place of an adviser, because there are things that we know to look for that a student never would.”

Peters said students should realize that What If DARS is only hypothetical and that, as the system warns students online, it’s important to connect with an adviser.

But, all the same, Peters and his colleagues felt it was time to allow students the What-If functionality, which University Registrar Dave Sauter said has been implemented at virtually every four-year public school in Ohio.

“I think students are becoming more savvy with these things,” Peters said. “How we interact with this information has changed in the last five and definitely last 10 years. We know that it’s a demand.”

Kim Ernsting saw that demand firsthand as the director of Miami’s Student Success Center, as students often came to the One Stop asking staffers to run their What If DAR. So when Ernsting found out BannerWeb’s platform had the capacity to let students produce the interactive degree planning tool on their own accounts, she was all for it.

“In the student success capacity, [What If DAR] is giving students more information about what their options are in a very real way, because it actually shows students how what they’ve already taken could be applied to a different major, if they are interested in exploring other options,” Ernsting said.

And so far, students have taken the bait. Sauter told The Student via email that by Wednesday afternoon, 700 users had run 1,200 What-If analyses in less than 48 hours since the initiative’s “soft launch.”

Ernsting has high hopes for the future of the What-If DAR program.

“I think ultimately, it just provides more options and opportunities for students to consider how to make the most of their time at Miami,” she said.

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