Spring semester is in full swing with advising and registration approaching quickly. The question is whether MSUM students feel they have the tools to guide them on the tedious journey of scheduling.
Schedule Planner, a “software for the students,” is the newest software available to MSUM students according to registrar Heather Soleim.
Soleim and her team found the software at an annual registrar conference where vendors show everything from diploma papers to curriculum software to different university representatives. Recently, Soleim found something with a lot of potential.
“It was actually invented by a college student,” Soleim said. “He was at college and was trying to figure out his schedule; it was driving him crazy.”
Inventor Robert Strazzarino originally used a piece of paper with dates, times and boxes to write out possible schedules, but he eventually created and sold his own program version of the idea.
Implemented back in the summer, Schedule Planner is now offered to all students at MSUM.
“We used it very limitedly (in summer), and then we rolled it out for everybody in the fall,” Soleim said.
Soleim had a good feeling about the program, saying it has been “all the rage,” and MSUM transfer student Marisa Aranda agreed.
Aranda, a sophomore majoring in elementary inclusive education, said she has used it three times, including this semester.
“Right away I was really confused because no one really helped with it,” Aranda said. Although things started a bit rocky with Aranda and the software, she has had success since. “When I came (to orientation), it was a bunch of transfer students, so they tried to introduce it to us, but they did a really poor job at it. Last semester when I used it for this semester, it was nice to know that I could plug in the breaks that I needed or if I wanted to work.”
Because of this, Soleim believes the system is doing very well, and she has the data to prove it.
“I went to present to the Dragon mentors for the learning communities, and there was a Dragon mentor in the room who knew how to use the system better than me,” Soleim said.
The online registration numbers for the program have also been strong. The 2017 fall semester had 6,259 log-ins and 2,142 new users rate it positively. The following spring semester has already had 1,171 log-ins and 299 new users, even though registration windows are not even open yet.
However, faculty members have been more hesitant.
“I think that a lot of our faculty and staff might have had a hard time realizing what it can and can’t do,” Soleim said. “One of the frustrations has been that it doesn’t automatically register you—you still have to use eServices.”
Since eServices is used by the entire Minnesota State system, they aren’t allowing the Schedule Planner software into eServices.
“That was one of the things that has been a little bit of frustration, but that’s not the point,” Soleim said. “To me, the way the students have embraced it is the important thing. That’s why we bought this software for the students. This isn’t to make the faculty and staff’s lives’ easier, it’s so that students have an easier way.”
Soleim believes that software is all about what’s new, and this one in particular is always working on new developments.
“This is a very up-and-coming software. They have tons of ideas and they are always talking about new things,” Soleim said. “They are all young professionals who have all these ideas, so we’re actually very excited about where they want to take it next.”
Soleim said they received a lot of calls and emails from other universities about the latest addition to their system, and she welcomed it.
“What I’m really proud of is that we are in the early institutions that got on board, and I think that that’s really exciting,” Soleim said.
Still, a large portion of the student population has not yet been exposed to the new tool. Aranda figured the program out by herself, but she has a friend who has never even heard of it.
“(My friend) never used it, and it’s probably because she was never introduced to it. They need to do a better job at introducing it to students,” Aranda said.
Aranda believes the university should push it more onto upcoming freshman during their orientation. Soleim said they did do signage and list serves, but Aranda proved they have not reached all students.
Regardless of the number of students who use Schedule Planner now, Soleim is excited for its future.
“We are about to go to our annual conference on Saturday, and I can’t wait to see what they are coming up with next.”