Guidelines for MyDegrees Checklist Notes

(pdf of guidelines)

Statement of Purpose:  Advising Checklist Notes

OSU’s academic advising community is dedicated to providing excellent service to students across the full arc of their educational programs.  Encompassing a holistic approach to academic success, academic advising interactions create a critical, individualized connection between students and the University’s policies, opportunities and resources.  MyDegrees Checklist Notes provide important documentation of advising interactions, and the University expects advisors to record notes consistently and accurately to ensure seamless records of students’ needs and plans.

Timely, purposeful entries in the Checklist Notes provide:

  • Documentation of student interactions (face to face or via electronic mediums)
  • Context and history allowing for expedient and productive contacts that minimize unnecessary repetition and redundancy
  • A vehicle to enhance the advising relationship and connection with a student
  • Opportunities to track development and learning, progress toward established benchmarks, and/or noting patterns in behavior or actions
  • Documentation of student navigation within the university allowing for a holistic approach as students work with and move between advisors, departments, campus services, and other institutional representatives.

Privacy of Student Educational Records

“FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This legislation protects the privacy of student records and regulates how information is utilized. Release of student records at Oregon State University is bound by the federal law (FERPA), the Oregon Revised Statutes, and by the Oregon Administrative Rules.” (OSU Office of the Registrar)

As with any document containing information personally identifiable to a student, MyDegrees Checklist Notes are a part of student education records and are thus subject to FERPA.  Training in OSU’s FERPA practices is available through the web-based FERPA Tutorial. Designating a note as “Internal” within the MyDegrees system alters what automatically shows within the student’s view of their Degree Checklist, but be mindful that a student can request to view “Internal” notes under FERPA and they may also be subject to subpoena.

Also, please note that MyDegrees Checklist Notes are viewable by anyone with access to the Student Data Warehouse.

General Content & Practice Guidelines

In preparing to enter Checklist Notes in MyDegrees, ask yourself how the notes contribute to the holistic record of a student’s academic and career pathway while maintaining appropriate levels of disclosure.  Fact-based, descriptive notes help to convey the unique dynamics of each student advising contact.  Narrative notes are encouraged for readability and nuanced circumstances, but bulleted summaries can also be effective and readily skimmed in preparation for an appointment.

The following section presents items for consideration and potential inclusion in MyDegrees Notes.  Note that not every item will apply to all circumstances or advising conversations; these are intended to be guidelines for determining what is necessary or appropriate for each interaction.

  • Focus on facts and events. Summarize conversations. Provide information that would/will allow a campus colleague to contextualize the student’s circumstance and the related advice offered.
  • Include relevant information regarding student’s progress towards degree or career goals, university benchmarks (e.g. 1st Year Skills Courses), prerequisites, or major components.
  • Comment on recommended courses or alternative courses discussed and how those courses will likely affect progress towards degree completion and/or major exploration (especially if your unit is not in practice of utilizing/locking plans in the MyDegrees Planner function).
  • If you speculate about an outcome/impact of an action or decision, be clear with the student (and in your note) to acknowledge the hypothetical nature of your conversation. Make no overt promises if you cannot guarantee the result. Keep in mind that almost no results are guaranteed.
  • Document discussions of university policies and academic regulations.
  • Cite actions that were requested of the student and require follow-up.
  • For referrals, include context to allow the third party to act with clarity and purpose in their interaction with the shared student.
  • Document communications outside of advising appointments that are relevant to student’s academic record (e.g. a reminder about how to access/utilize systems such as MyDegrees; a phone call about how to withdraw from a course; a query about an Academic Regulation).
  • Note transitions (e.g. transfers in/out of a college or the institution; Withdrawal for the University (W/U for the term); decision to take a leave of absence).
  • Note exceptions granted including why and on what basis they were approved/implemented, as well as who approved the exception (if approval was needed).
  • Note stated opinions or decisions pertaining to recommendations made during a current or prior advising appointment (adoption or rejection). 
  • Note opportunities suggested to or queried by the student seeking to augment in-class learning and engagement (e.g. volunteer experience, leadership experience, internship).
  • Document attributes disclosed by the student that may assist with reference letters or scholarship letters and add value to the advising relationship and future interactions (e.g. student’s interests, student’s aspirations, student’s involvement, or student’s experiences).
  • Note reminders for future term considerations.
  • In case of a substantive email contact enter a summary in Checklist Notes or, if the entire message is relevant to academic record, copy the content into the Checklist Notes (this practice may shift if/when NOLIJ becomes accessible as repository). Please note that an individual MyDegrees Checklist Note only accepts a finite amount of information. 
  • If noting a change in behavior or concern, report through observation, not accusation or judgment. Subjective comments or opinions speculating about student’s motivations, concerns, or abilities are not appropriate inclusions.

Areas of Concern & Increased Sensitivity

  • If recording student’s comments about coursework, perceptions, experiences, etc., employ phrasing to the effect of the student “reported,” “stated,” or “expressed.”
  • Information about other students should not be included.
  • If recording information, conversations, or referrals of a highly personal or sensitive nature exercise care with the language employed; report academically relevant facts. Focus on steps already taken or steps that are necessary to address the circumstance. Do not diagnose, assess, or offer judgment on the student or circumstance. Consider merely listing the office involved (CAPS, DAS, SHS, SCCS, OEI, etc.) as a prompt for future follow up or check-in without recording details.  Alternately, you might elect to employ a generic statement (e.g. “Student reported facing challenging circumstance. Referred student to [name of department/office].”)
  • Be sure to document whenever you do refer a student to other offices on campus (academic or non-academic, including for example, Counseling and Psychological Services, Disability Access Services, and Student Health Services).
  • Regarding employability, speak and notate only in generalities. Make no specific promises regarding employability. Notate discussions of referrals to in-house literature and/or web-based career resources.
  • Regarding financial process or cost information, make no promises if you cannot guarantee the outcome. Include general summary of discussion and note informational and/or office referrals (e.g. “Showed student where to find Tuition and Fees Information on the OSU website” or “Suggested a proactive contact with Fin. Aid office.”)
  • Child Abuse, Sexual Harassment/Sexual Violence (Title IX), & other legal issues – Any mention within MyDegrees Checklist Notes should follow cautions above regarding highly personal or sensitive matters. Use extreme discretion with any notes made (e.g. “Student involved in legal matter. Student reported impact on her normal class preparation and attendance.”) Reminder: Do not promise confidentiality to the student. Related information:
    • Remember that as employees of an Oregon institution of higher education we area subject to mandatory reporting of child abuse
    • The Office of Equity & Inclusion (OEI) identifies Employee Responsibilities related to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 as the following: “We each have the responsibility to treat others with respect.  The most important thing you can do is to refrain from engaging in any harassing behavior and not tolerate such behavior from others. If you stay aware of your responsibility and assert your rights to a respectful work or learning environment, you will have taken an important step toward eliminating sexual harassment.  Additionally, each of us can assist the university in taking corrective action by responding appropriately when we learn of situations that may be harassment.” OEI provides Employee Guidance for Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence or Harassment among its information on assistance, reporting contacts, responsibilities, sanctions, and education/outreach opportunities.

Compendium of Common Campus Abbreviations for Notes Items

Colleges + University Exploratory Studies Program

CAS = College of Agricultural Sciences
CEOAS = College of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Science
CLA = College of Liberal Arts
COB = College of Business
COE = College of Engineering
COED = College of Education
COF = College of Forestry
COS = College of Science
PHAR = College of Pharmacy
PHHS = College of Public Health & Human Sciences
UESP = University Exploratory Studies Program
UHC = University Honors College
Vet Med = College of Veterinary Medicine

Frequently mentioned Campus Services/Offices

ASA = Academics for Student Athletes
ASC (in context) = Academic Success Center
CAMP = College Assistance Migrant Program
CAPS = Counseling & Psychological Services
CCE = Center for Civic Engagement
CLC = Collaborative Learning Center
DAS = Disability Access Service
DOS = Dean of Students
EOP = Educational Opportunities Program
Fin Aid = Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships
HSRC = Human Services Resource Center
IDEA = International Degree & Education Abroad
ISS = Intercultural Student Services
MLC = Math Learning Center
NSP&FO = New Student Programs & Family Outreach
OEI = Office of Equity & Inclusion
SCCS = Student Conduct & Community Standards
SHS = Student Health Services
SI = Supplemental Instruction Study Tables
SSS = Student Support Services
URSA = Undergraduate Research, Scholarship & the Arts
WC = (in context) Writing Center
WC = (in context) Women’s Center

Academic Status of Faculty Senate Committee

AW = Academic Warning
PR = Academic Probation
AS = Academic Suspension
ARC = Academic Requirements Committee
ASC (in context) = Academic Standing Committee

(Acknowledgments to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Utah)