Take advantage of GriffinGate, the online advisor

Now that we’ve gone almost an entire semester with the new system and made it through a cycle of course registration, it seems time to address GriffinGate and the effects of that change on the way the Seton Hill University (SHU) community utilizes its online resources.

The switch from Campus Connect and JWeb that was made over the course of this past summer has certainly been marked by its share of hardships, as any change that large would be, especially when dealing with the world of technology. But, overall I would say that the switch to a single application for all students, faculty, and staff for educational, communicational, and administrative purposes was a smart move.

By Lorin Schumacher

Senior Staff Writer

Now that we’ve gone almost an entire semester with the new system and made it through a cycle of course registration, it seems time to address GriffinGate and the effects of that change on the way the Seton Hill University (SHU) community utilizes its online resources.

The switch from Campus Connect and JWeb that was made over the course of this past summer has certainly been marked by its share of hardships, as any change that large would be, especially when dealing with the world of technology. But, overall I would say that the switch to a single application for all students, faculty, and staff for educational, communicational, and administrative purposes was a smart move.

After only a semester, despite the difficulties that always come along when one thing that is familiar is replaced by something unfamiliar, I would say that GriffinGate, on a whole, is used more frequently than JWeb or Campus Connect ever were. Students and faculty seem to be really taking advantage of what it has to offer.

I know I have personally benefited from going onto GriffinGate at least once this semester for every class that I am taking. For several of my classes I have needed to go onto GriffinGate on average of at least once a week.

Now for certain professors who never relied or utilized JWeb much in the first place, the change to GriffinGate has probably had little impact for them. But the uses for students are now versatile enough that it is worth having even if none of your professors use it for their courses.

My favorite new feature that I think makes the whole application worth it, is the “Course Registration and Advising” section. It provides students with an active list of the requirements they still need to complete for graduation. Under the “Students” tab, the “Advising Worksheet” breaks down an individual’s graduation requirements into sections. There is a section based on major and minor if applicable, a section on the liberal arts core requirements, and if needed a section for teaching certification requirements and electives.

The best thing about it is not that it tells you exactly what you still need to take to graduate, especially since I know this feature in no way replaces an official degree audit by the registrar. The best part is that if you click on any specific requirement listed, it brings up a whole list of courses that could be taken to fulfill that requirement. Then you can even check when the course will be available.

I think this feature will be extremely useful to students as they familiarize themselves with it more. In my time here at SHU I have noticed that many students are not very aware of what they need to take to graduate and they rely heavily on their advisor to tell them what to take each semester. To an extent, that is what our advisors are for, but it is a big job to keep track of everything all students need.

Since this job is so large, I have seen many a student unaware of the potential courses available that fulfill liberal arts core requirements. So many students think that for many requirements only one course fulfills that requirement. In reality that is rarely the case. Usually there are several options for courses that fulfill these requirements. Often one of these courses may be more useful to a student, or simply fit into their schedule better than the ones they are aware of.

Also, I have seen students taking courses that do fulfill core requirements, but are completely unnecessary. For example, while it is infrequent, I know students who are not interested in traditional history classes who take a 300 level history course to fulfill the US Cultures core requirement. Not that I expect that everyone should be able to avoid everything they remotely dislike. But I feel it is needless to make a student struggle through a 300 level history course that they get hardly anything out of because they are taking it merely to fulfill a requirement. Especially when there are plenty of options available that might allow them to take a course that they find interesting.

But, an advisor could not possibly memorize all the options that fulfill a core requirement. Nor should they be expected to. The course selection book also lists all the courses within the upcoming semester that could fulfill core requirements, but it can be a little tedious to decipher. GriffinGate allows everything a student could know about exactly what is needed to graduate and gives them all the options available at the click of a button.

This would do two very important things. First, it would take a bit of pressure off of professors in terms of trying to make sure all their students get the most out of their SHU careers, and fulfill all of their requirements. Second, it would give the students an opportunity to take more personal responsibility for their own education.

Obviously, GriffinGate has many more features that make it worthwhile, but I feel that this feature is one of the most significant. I hope that students will utilize this feature and see it as an advantage of the new system.

And I hope that students and staff will continue exploring the new application so that they may get the most out of it. While the inability to use the back button on your browser takes a little getting used to and can be a bit of an annoyance, overall GriffinGate is a great improvement over the previous jWeb and Campus Connect online resources.

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