Students can use the registrar’s degree audit tool on the Lehigh Banner to see which course requirements they need to fulfill and how close they are to graduating.
Minor discrepancies and misinterpretations of this tool, however, have created confusion and caused students to be more careful when planning their schedules.
Over spring break of 2017, Ashley Baker, an associate registrar, said the degree audit tool was upgraded to provide a better interface, which may have changed how some graduating seniors use the tool compared to previous years.
Sophie Bysiewicz, ’18, an IDEAS major, said her degree audit displayed a lot of red, which made her think she hadn’t fulfilled the requirements to graduate. The degree audit tool uses green, red and blue to show whether requirements are complete, incomplete or in progress respectively. Bar and pie charts are used to show the distributions of credit hours.
“(The tool) will say I have 20 percent complete when my adviser says it’s fine for me to graduate on time,” Bysiewicz said.
Baker said integrated programs like IDEAS can cause students to misinterpret the degree audit.
“Because IDEAS is so self-designed with the student and the adviser, there isn’t a standard for those students,” Baker said. “In those instances, the degree audit isn’t as beneficial to them.”
Michael Lessel, ’18, said he’s had a relatively positive experience with the degree audit tool. However, there were a few instances where he took technical electives and his degree audit did not count them toward his degree. He said he had to email and visit the Registrar’s Office to resolve the issue.
Baker said the degree audit, which was first developed in the late 1980s, was built in accordance with the course catalog.
Special topics or provisional courses being tested out by a department might not be considered standard for a specific degree, but the department will still count them toward a student’s major. In these cases, Baker said the audit won’t update automatically and the department has to approve these courses as exceptions.
Baker said courses can also be misrepresented on the audit. In other words, a student might take a course intended as an elective, but on the audit it could appear to fulfill a different requirement. This happens because the audit looks at the order in which students take courses and enters them into the first requirements they would meet.
Baker said students should be able to rely on the tool, but the course catalog is the ultimate source to see how a degree can be completed. She said students should regularly review the tool from the time they first enroll at Lehigh until they graduate to avoid surprises and unfulfilled requirements.
“Don’t wait until your final semester to take a look at (your degree audit),” Baker said. “If there is something that needs to be fixed, we want to have time to adjust it.”
To plan for the semester, Lessel said he used the degree audit in accordance with his adviser and mapped out his schedule with the course catalog.
Lessel said he noticed the GPA calculator for overall and major-specific GPA was new. He said the way in which the tool breaks down his major and the colored charts and check boxes were helpful in understanding the requirements for his degree.
“I think everyone should take some personal accountability with their schedule and not just rely on the degree audit,” Lessel said. “It’s a tool, but at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your own schedule.”