A pair of new apps to go live on Hinds Community College’s website once it actually starts to feel like spring outside should revolutionize the college experience for all our students.
One has to do with registration and planning classes – two things that have depended on those all-too-fallible human advisers for generations of students, myself included. Another deals with financial aid, another experience of college comparable only to being sent into a minefield during battle. Or, nailing Jell-O to a tree – whichever image you prefer.
Colleague Student Planning, introduced in 2012 by Ellucian, an education software and tech developer, is replacing Web Advisor on the college’s website as the place students go to register for classes online. It’ll help the hundreds of students we have at Hinds who juggle work, school and/or a family figure out on their own which academic and career-tech classes to schedule. If a class doesn’t match a student’s degree plan, the web tool will alert them, allowing the student to put together a road of classes they can ride all the way to graduation. And it’s versatile, too, because a student can modify their virtual planner if they decide to switch majors.
Key players at Hinds plan to have it online here April 5, when students register for summer and fall classes. Its on-screen look is still in development, but you can click here to view a video from Ellucian that breaks it down nicely.
Folks, this is big deal because it’ll help students cut through the haze of curriculum re-writes, missing work to meet with an adviser and myriad other issues that working students face. I have some background in that, both personally and from getting to know a few students here in that category.
I was in college during the modern Internet’s infancy, in the late ’90s. Registration and finding out about financial aid meant long lines down a hallway and out the door. Speaking as someone who juggled low-wage jobs (two of them, at one point) and classes, a tool like would have cut out 90+ percent of my stress – even if had meant waiting on dial-up connections on those old desktops. I’d have run to it faster than the little AOL stick-figure in their old commercials.
On the aid side, the Financial Aid Self-Service tool expected to go live on students’ MyHinds portal by the beginning of March will let students track their financial assistance status. An early look shows it’ll be a simple color-coded system for tracking applications for grants and loans. Yes is green, no is yellow.
Invariably, new students will crowd and gather in bunches during registration time. And, in the face of all this technology, academic advisers still have an important job to do when a student needs face time to manage their degree plan. Still, encouraging students to use the new web tools to track their academic status simply makes sense. It goes double for students already motivated to “make the grade” but could use the resource to help manage life’s other responsibilities.
It also ties in to the college’s Quality Enhancement Plan theme of student self-sufficiency, which is part of a larger effort to renew Hinds’ accreditation later this year. The slogan is “It’s All About Me at Hinds CC.” These tools makes sure it’s about something else, too – their futures.