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The Graduate Handbook: A Tool for Enhancing the Quality of Graduate Advising

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Morgan Swartzlander

on 12 January 2016

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Transcript of The Graduate Handbook: A Tool for Enhancing the Quality of Graduate Advising

Morgan Swartzlander

Academic Advisor Sr. for:

East Asian Languages & Cultures
French & Italian
Germanic Languages & Literatures
Slavic Languages & Literatures

Advise students and faculty on University and College policies and procedures, and provide administrative support for the graduate program.

Also a COGA team member, providing training to Graduate Support Staff in the College.
Project Background
What We've Created to Help You Get There
Handbook Guide: "What to Include in a Handbook"
A Tool for Enhancing the Quality of Graduate Advising
The Graduate Handbook:
Document not easily accessible.
Program policy and requirements clearly presented and up to date for the most part.
What we found...
Difficulty keeping up with name changes e.g. "Graduate School", "FLORS"
Discontinued policies still present, e.g. master's students ineligible for LOA, 5 years may elapse before discontinued
Newer policies not yet integrated, e.g. Physical presence rules for committee members during exams (Skype rules)
Duplication of complex University policies caused some to end up incomplete, e.g. 18 hour post-comp enrollment policy
University policy and program requirements presented seamlessly without indication of ownership or origin of policy.
COGA looked at all College program handbooks available online
Looked at handbooks at other institutions
DGS Survey
What you reported...
Wide variation on among departments:
Most, 85%, have a graduate handbook
Lack of time and administrative support to keep up with the pace of change in University policy.
Traits of an Effective Handbook
Ideal reflection of your department or program brand and culture, to current AND potential graduate students.
Stronger and more accurate advising and mentorship.
Emphasizes detail of procedures, processes, timelines and expectations beyond what is provided in the Academic Catalog.
Easy to update.
Clearly presents what the program requires of a student versus what the University requires.
More detailed template that includes examples of well-presented material across departments. Everyone was doing something really well!
"Do's and Don'ts" for a Graduate Handbook
DON'T duplicate University policy, DO provide direct links to the policy in the policy library (or just use the University Policy template section!)
DON'T provide print copies, DO make it an online document, update the online version and direct students and faculty to that version before all graduate milestones or exams.
DON'T provide the name and phone number of contacts in another office, DO describe the role of that office, a list of reasons you may contact them, and then a direct link to that department's website.
DON'T highlight maximum time limits for completing degree, DO tell students what normal expectations are and then refer them to the time limit policy online.
Entire guide will be available on COGA website early June.
Follow up Summer 2015
Morgan Swartzlander
Separate "University Policies and Requirements" section
complete with direct links to every relevant policy or office.
it updates itself!
University or College policy in many cases out-of-date, incomplete, misleading or missing.
75% said at minimum the DGS consults it regularly for advising, and students are referred to an online version regularly.
Other institutions seem to be doing a better job of explaining the services and role of other relevant offices on campus and taking advantage of the online medium to link to those offices.
amount of content, e.g. only 55% reported including RSRS (as opposed to FLORS), 52% provide information about University petitions.
who uses it and when, only 32% indicated faculty other than the DGS use the handbook.
procedures for updating, mostly ad hoc and at initiative of DGS
Full transcript