Ayres, Baalman reevaluate academic advising platform


Kansas State students meet with their advisers a minimum of one time per semester to enroll, and the student body president and vice president-elect ran on a platform to make the advising process more efficient, personal and interactive.

Jack Ayres, junior in chemical engineering and candidate for student body president, and Olivia Baalman, junior in computer science and candidate for student body vice president, ran on three platforms: Your Degree, Your Campus and Your Voice.

As previously reported by the Collegian, the pair campaigned on improving advising standards across the colleges, updating academic advising technology and initiating a “Finish in 4” campaign under their “Your Degree” platform.

Improved advising standards

Consistency across colleges and departments, communication between advisers who have the same advisees and better focused conversations are ways Ayres said they can improve the university’s advising standards.

“Part of it is I think there is a lack of an institutional standard,” Ayres said. “Not like a standard of excellence or accountability, but we don’t have a standard on the way advising is done.”

Ayres said while he understands different degree programs might have different needs, he is committed to consistency in advising.

“Even if it’s consistently inconsistent, that’s better than what it is now,” Ayres said.

From the various advising programs that are currently implemented on campus, such as one-on-one advising, group advising and lecture hall advising, Ayres and Baalman said it will be important to look at what styles are most effective to students.

“I don’t want to say all group advising is bad, but I do think it’s important to look at the specifics of it in making sure it is still effective for the students,” Baalman said.

Updated advising technology

Also under “Your Degree,” Ayres and Baalman said they hoped to make DARS reports interactive and more beneficial to students.

According to the K-State Office of the Registrar, the “DARS report is an individualized analysis of a student’s academic progress toward a specified degree.”

The report can be used to check degree requirements, how transfer credits and K-State credits fit into a specific program and what requirements have not been fulfilled.

“Currently DARS is more of an adviser resource than a student resource,” Ayres said.

To make the report more student focused — when campaigning — Ayres and Baalman said they hoped to make DARS reports more interactive with the ability to run “graduation checks,” which would allow students to test different scheduling scenarios to ensure it is efficient for a four or five year graduation plan.

Prior to the March 7-8 election, Ayres and Baalman spoke with the Office of the Registrar to make this interactive report possible.

After their meeting with the registrar, the pair found out these interactive features already exist on KSIS.

On the same page where students can request a PDF version of their DARS report, students can also request one in HTML format, which is interactive.

Students can also request a “What If” report, which allows students to see what their course progress would look like if they switched their major. A “K-State 8” progress report and “incomplete requirements” report can also be downloaded.

Ayres said each of the reports takes about six clicks.

“There are a lot of features on the DARS reports now that one, students don’t know about and two, don’t know how to access,” Ayres said.

Now that the pair knows these features exist, they plan to make students more aware.

“Nobody knows about these clickable links,” Ayres said. “So even if the look of the report doesn’t change, we can make massive headway in working on that request screen. Make that easier, make more instructions for students and make that the user-friendly component we want to work on.”

However, with the Office of the Registrar’s plans to upgrade KSIS by fall 2017, they are not yet sure on the best time to begin making those changes.

‘Finish in 4’ Campaign

Ayres and Baalman also found out by talking to the Office of the Registrar that their plans to create degree program flow charts to help students “Finish in 4,” might not be possible.

“There’s been some concern from the registrar — we’ve heard it from a couple people — about how it’s difficult to have flow charts for every major just due to the nature and characteristics that some of the programs work,” Ayres said. “I’d be interested in continuing to look more into that. Even if we don’t have it standardized across the board … maybe there’s a way we can encourage departments to graphically represent (their degrees).”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct when Ayres and Baalman met with the Office of the Registrar.

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!