As if new student orientation wasn’t busy enough, the University of Oregon registrar’s staff was faced with processing thousands of pieces of paper containing Advanced Placement test scores that had arrived not long before the arrival of eager freshmen.
Because Oregon operates on the quarter system, orientation sessions are held throughout July, after AP scores are mailed to the school. That tied up personnel who had to manually enter the scores into Banner and pull files so that each session’s students could be properly advised on which courses to register for.
“It was just a real scramble,” says Jim Bouse, associate registrar for technology. “It took 400 hours in that month of orientation programs in the summer. With new students coming in and going through advising trying to get classes, we were always behind trying to get AP scores done to allow them to meet prerequisites to get into classes they needed to take. The students weren’t getting served as well as they should have been.”
A two-step process helped Oregon turn what had been a time-consuming, tedious, and error-prone process into something smoother and more effective. First, the registrar’s office took advantage of the College Board’s electronic transmission capabilities to upload AP scores directly into Banner, which automatically populated the school’s student information system with the data. Second, university staff wrote a program to automatically assess the test results and award students the appropriate number of college credits their scores had qualified them for.
Automated uploading of AP test scores freed up staff, improved academic advising, and boosted customer service.
The process has saved Oregon hundreds of hours of staff time annually and vastly reduced errors. Because students can view their AP credits in a more timely fashion, they can have more effective discussions with faculty advisors about course selection and degree planning. And sorting out which credits serve as prerequisites is now an automated process.
“We are at an extreme advantage with being able to upload these scores before students come for their orientation sessions,” notes Brian Lowery, associate registrar for operations. “This information is also available to them before they even get here. They can view this in their self-service portal. They can have an idea of what they’re doing, where they’re going, and they can share that information with their parents and start planning before they get here.”
Oregon officials credit their new process with allowing them to serve students better. The prior notification of students and families of credit availability “was timely and very good customer service” on the front end, University Registrar Susan Eveland says.
“On the back end,” she adds, “our orientation month is a very crazy month, and having less manual data entry to do during that time freed up staff to interact with families on campus, to help out with registration and be able to spend a little more time with students. That’s the second big win in this.”