What is a Degree Audit?
It is an analysis of a student’s progress toward their desired degree that is generated by the university. It shows which requirements have been fulfilled, both for the student’s major and for general graduation, and lists potential courses that students can take to fulfill their remaining requirements. Typically, a degree audit can be requested through your mentee’s student portal.
Many of the students we work with attend the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Click here for a minute-long tutorial that shows you how to run a degree audit.
Why is it important?
A degree audit shows a student’s progress toward graduation and the steps they need to take next. By looking at this ahead of time with the help of their mentor and their academic advisor, they can ensure that they are completing requirements in a timely matter. Failure to complete coursework on time may result in changes to financial aid or scholarship, which could impact the student’s capacity to pay for their education.
You can also use the degree audit to make sure your mentee is setting themselves up for success when choosing courses. Taking several upper-level courses at once could make for a challenging semester, so encourage your mentee to spread out lower-level requirements to give themselves a break.
When should your mentee check their degree audit?
There are several points in the semester when your mentee should consult their degree audit to make sure they are on track. Here, we’ll go over a few of those key moments.
When registering for classes
Before your mentee selects new courses for the following semester, they should be aware of what requirements those courses will need to fulfill.
After registering for classes
Most universities allow a short, no-penalty drop period after course enrollment. Your mentee should check their degree audit to make sure they are taking the right courses.
When grades are posted
This is a good checkpoint to examine their progress. If they failed or dropped a course during the semester, they can use their degree audit to plan their next move. Also, grades can effect eligibility for financial aid and scholarships.
At the end of the add/drop period
Is your mentee having an easier time with Bio than expected? Are they failing their history class a couple weeks in? Using their degree audit, you can help your mentee plan their next move if they want to make changes after the first few weeks of the semester.
Anytime you make a change to your schedule
Changing the schedule impacts students’ progress toward their degree, so they should check their degree audit after making any changes.
By using the degree audit and partnering with you and their academic advisor, your mentee can work to fulfill the requirements for their degree quickly and graduate sooner. This saves them both time and money.
Degree Audit Example
Below is a degree audit from UMass-Boston. Let’s take a look at the specific components of a degree audit and a few more ways we can utilize this document.
Complete the content above before moving on.
Interpreting your mentee’s degree audit
Now that you are familiar with what a degree audit looks like, let’s look at a few ways in which you can use the degree audit to help guide your mentee’s choices for their upcoming semester.
For each course they have dropped after the add/drop period, your mentee’s degree audit should show a W. If they are retaking the same course next semester, ask them about why they dropped the course before and encourage them to develop a plan so they can succeed the second time.
If your mentee is further along in their degree track, be conscious of time. For example, dropping a 100-level course means they may not be able to fulfill higher-level requirements the following semester.
Read the fine print!
In the video above, we saw that some major requirements ask for specific courses and do not accept other courses, both of which were listed on the audit. Make sure you read carefully before advising your mentee to pick a certain course. If you’re unsure, tell them to double-check with their academic advisor or the College Success advisor.
Keep it official
Remember that the degree audit is not an official document, but rather a tool to help students track their progress on their chosen course of study. If your mentee says something on their degree audit is incorrect, encourage them to double check with their other records and have them reach out to their academic advisor to determine the next steps if corrections need to be made.