New tool will enable PSU students to chart a path to a degree and a career
Author: Christopher Broderick
Posted: October 23, 2017

Portland State University has partnered with Barnes & Noble LoudCloud to develop a personalized web tool that will allow students to chart their pathway to graduation, track progress, understand the impact of their choices on financial aid and adjust plans if they change majors. 

“We can minimize silos that send students running around campus, and we can create more transparency with costs and financial aid,” says Sukhwant Jhaj, PSU’s vice provost for innovation, planning and student success. “The degree planning platform will be transformational in helping students save time, save money and reduce stress.”

Creating the virtual advising tool follows extensive research by PSU that included interviews with students and analyzing data to determine what obstacles slow graduation rates. A team from Barnes & Noble Education LoudCloud worked with PSU to build a virtual degree planning tool that will help them streamline their academic path and chart a course toward a career.

“This partnership lays the foundations for degree planning to tackle a number of student challenges, such as how to link degree paths to an ever-changing job market and how to provide a clear credit-taking path from community colleges to universities,” says Kanuj Malhotra, chief operating officer of Barnes & Noble Digital Education.

Developing a personalized degree planning tool is one of the primary goals of the reTHINK PSU initiative is to improve the student experience. Funding for the project is in part provided by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities.

“Over time, this tool will help bolster PSU’s retention and graduation rates and ultimately will reduce costs for students by enabling them to stay on a more efficient course to graduate,” Jhaj says.

The new student web tool will be phased in over several months in 2018. Details will be announced later this academic year.

Portland State has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top 10 “Most Innovative” universities for three consecutive years. The reTHINK PSU projects that bolster student success are among the innovations behind the ranking.

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