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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Degree Planner?

Degree Planner is an interactive-planning tool that helps students complete their degree as efficiently as possible. Degree Planner integrates degree audit information, program maps, and course offerings to recommend the sequence of courses the student should take each semester.

Degree Planner is also an interactive advising software tool that counselors can use to help students select and customize their pathway to degree completion.

Why is Los Rios implementing Degree Planner?

Los Rios is committed to the California Community Colleges Guided Pathways framework – a highly structured approach to student success that provides all students with a set of clear course-taking patterns to promote better enrollment decisions, help students in reaching their educational goals, and prepare them for future success.

How is Los Rios paying for Degree Planner?

Los Rios received an institutional effectiveness grant that has enabled us to implement tools such as Degree Planner.

Degree Planner is just one of several tools that Los Rios has received grant funding to implement. Others include Starfish (a case management and early alert system tool) and Ad Astra (a strategic scheduling and enrollment management tool).

Each of these tools supports our guided pathways work.

Which students can use Degree Planner?

Degree Planner is in limited release right now. It is available to students who meet both of the following criteria:

  • they became term-active at a Los Rios college in the summer of 2019 or later
  • they are majoring in a designated AA-T or AS-T degrees at a Los Rios college

See a list of all programs currently available in Degree Planner.

How do students know if they have access to Degree Planner?

Students who are majoring in or have declared one of the degrees that are live in Degree Planner will have access to Degree Planner under Academic Records in their eServices.

  1. From the eServices dashboard, click Academic Records.
    Screenshot of eServices dashboard with arrow pointing to Academic Records tile
  2. The Degree Planner link will display in the section navigation menu if it is available to the student.
    Screenshot of eServices with arrow pointing to Degree Planner link

Students whose majors are not yet active in Degree Planner will not have access to this link at this time. However, students pursuing other degree programs will eventually have access as more programs are added to the system.

How can an employee tell if a student has access to Degree Planner?

With the student, go to their eServices homepage. Have the student select the Academic Records tile. If the student's degree is one of the programs that is live in Degree Planner, then the Degree Planner navigation link will be on their page.

Only students who became term active in summer 2019 and later will have access to Degree Planner.

What if a student does not have access to Degree Planner?

If a student does not have access to the Degree Planner link, then their degree is not yet available in Degree Planner. The college teams are building these programs over the course of this academic year.

In the meantime, encourage the student to make an appointment to see a counselor to develop an iSEP (individual student education plan). Students can view degree maps on the college website to determine which courses to take.

If the student has selected one a program that is live in Degree Planner but the Degree Planner link is not displaying, then check to make sure they became term-active at your college in summer 2019 or later. If they did, then contact the Help Desk.

Can a student use Degree Planner if they are "undecided" or have chosen a broad general education major as their academic goal?

Currently, only students who have selected one of the majors that is live in Degree Planner will have access to the tool.

During the CCCApply process, some students do not select a major (so they are "undecided") or they may select a general education area of study that is too broad to be considered a major. To proceed with enrollment, the system will prompt these students to select a specific major.

If a student selects or declares one of the majors that is live in Degree Planner, then they will have access to the tool through eServices.

Why doesn't every student have access to Degree Planner right now?

The goal is for every student to be able to use Degree Planner. However, it takes time to input and test the degree/academic programs to ensure that they are accurate. It will take time to perfect the tool – even with testing, issues may still arise that require adjustments to improve the accuracy, student experience, and the tool itself.

That's why we decided to release Degree Planner on a limited basis – it will enable the team to identify potential issues in the live environment, correct them, and improve the tool for all students.

What majors/degrees does Degree Planner contain right now?

Degree Planner currently contains the most awarded AA-T and AS-T degrees our colleges. Students who have declared one of these majors (as of summer 2019 or later) will have access to Degree Planner via eServices. As more degrees (and eventually certificates) are added to Degree Planner, more students will be able to use the tool. The goal is for all students to have access to Degree Planner by summer 2021.

What is an AA-T or AS-T degree?

AA-T stands for Associate of Arts Degree for Transfer and AS-T stands for Associate of Science Degree for Transfer.

These degrees are 60-unit degrees that can be completed in two years. They align with the lower-division requirements for many of the degrees awarded in the CSU system. Students who complete an AA-T or AS-T are guaranteed a spot at a CSU as a junior, where they can complete their bachelor's degree in two more years.

How does Degree Planner work for students?

Degree Planner provides students with a semester-by-semester course plan to complete their degree in two years and be ready for transfer (if they are attending college full-time).

It also gives students the ability to interact with their degree plan, so they can alter their plan based on their individual needs and life circumstances. Students can select such things as the number of units they take each semester. They can rearrange their classes based on course availability and other factors, like which classes balance best with their workload, family responsibilities, and so on.

When a student makes a change to their plan, Degree Planner does not lose track of the classes a student still needs to take to complete their degree. It automatically updates the student's plan to accommodate the student's choices then re-prioritizes the student's remaining degree requirements.

Degree Planner also pulls in courses the student has already taken at any of the Los Rios colleges. If that course meets a degree requirement in the student's major, Degree Planner recognizes the equivalent course and re-prioritizes the remaining courses the student needs to complete their degree. Note that efforts are underway to develop a tool that will read transcript information from institutions outside of Los Rios and integrate it into Degree Planner. We'll provide more information when it's available.

How can Degree Planner help counselors work with students?

Counselors can help students customize their degree plan during a counseling session. The following video explains how counselors can use Degree Planner.

Here are other ways a counselor can help a student customize their plan. Counselors can:

  • Adjust the number of units a student takes each semester.
  • Move a course from one semester to another.
  • Enter notes at the course level, semester level, and plan level in a student's plan.
  • Develop "what if" plans with the student.
  • Make a copy of the student's plan, make changes to the plan in conversation with the student, and then "lock" the changes in place, keeping a record of the plan and agreement between the student and counselor.
  • View a previous counselor's notes and locked plans.
  • Move planned classes into Schedule Builder to help the student enroll in those classes.

Note: Counselors are not required to use Degree Planner at this time. Training opportunities are planned for the fall term for those who want to learn how to use Degree Planner.

How can staff and others help students use Degree Planner?

Staff can help students use Degree Planner in the following ways:

  • Help students determine if they have access to Degree Planner. If a student has declared a major that is currently live in Degree Planner, then they will see the Degree Planner link in the Academic Records section in eServices. If a student's major is not active in Degree Planner, then they won't have access to Degree Planner.
  • Share the link to the Degree Planner student video ( youtu.be/bjNS-Udh6VM) and direct students to the Degree Planner information under the Need Help? tab in eServices.
  • Walk the student through the tips in the program.
  • Practice using Degree Planner in a test site in preparation to help a student through the process.
  • Show students how to change the number of units they can take, move a class, validate their path, print a copy of their map, and move their classes into Schedule Builder to enroll.

How can an employee learn more about Degree Planner?

College-specific training sessions are being planned for fall with information coming soon. In the meantime, review the following videos.

If you are having trouble watching these videos, then make sure you are logged out of the VPN tunnel.

Contact

Talk to a member of the implementation team or contact the IT Help Desk for more information about Degree Planner.

ARC Project Team

CRC Project Team

FLC Project Team

SCC Project Team

District Office Project Team