The Times Have Changed
Years ago when Assistant Dean Tracy Jones was working in Graduate Studies at UCF, it was quite the learning experience. Students were applying for admission to many different graduate programs and submitting a variety of types of documents. It often seemed like they would send their resume one day, a transcript three days later and their application a week later. She would often wonder how she was to match up all the documents.
A group in the office met and decided there had to be a better way. UCF was on the forefront of implementing what was to be deemed a “managed application.” This application had all required documents in one packet. The application and all supporting materials, including the letters of recommendation and transcripts in the institution’s sealed envelope were to be returned in one envelope provided in the managed application.
This was a great improvement and saved staff numerous hours trying to match student documents as they came in. The savings were so great that the members involved in developing the managed application process were awarded a DAVIS PRODUCTIVITY AWARD.
Next came the age of the online application. Students started going to a graduate students website and filling out their online application. Modern technology would import that data into both the Student Information System and into our image system. The hope was that we would no longer have to pass any paper out to graduate programs since it was viewable in the image system.
Modern technology has really changed in the way we collect application information. It has allowed us to keep the same number of admissions counselors since 1995 when our applications have gone from 8,000 to 15,000 applications a year. Now that’s an accomplishment!
Many changes have also taken place in the graduation area. The graduate diplomas used to be the same size as the Bachelor’s diplomas. Now the graduate diplomas are much larger and make it a much more impressive piece to look at on your wall.
The university has grown from graduating over 1,100 graduate students in the Academic Year 1994 to graduating 2,909 students in 2012. This includes graduate certificates, which were also added to enhance a student’s professional development.
After years of coding and decoding SASS and then DARS for student advisement and degree certification, the Graduate College moved the university forward by implementing a new advisement tool in 2012. This tool allows graduate students to monitor both course and non-course requirement progress. It also allows students to register right from the online report. There are many opportunities to save time for graduate students and staff but also for the Registrar’s Office, Student Financial Assistance, and others. This was a two-year project and we are very proud of the contributions it will make to the university population.
Gathering data at the university has changed so drastically over the years that we laugh when we run across the old green bar reports that we used to receive. Back then, running data on the fly was not heard of. Now, it seems we run reports to inform every decision we make. We make reports, we tweak reports, we use the information and hope for the best decision. We provide data to the graduate program directors about their students in a secure intranet. We give them information for recruiting on whether they will meet their recruiting goals. We show them trends in the types of students they area admitting. We have provided them with large-scale studies on retention and attrition in their programs hoping to improve retention rates. It is amazing at how much information we have at our fingertips and how useful it is in our day to day work, as well as, in making large-scale decisions.
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