Reviewing their status regularly will help a student graduate on time.

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Most colleges require a student to conduct a degree audit with their academic adviser or the Registrar’s office in their senior year to ensure they will meet all their graduation requirements. But students can access this information as early as freshman year and continue to do so throughout their college career to make sure they are on track to meet their program requirements.

A degree audit Different than an official transcript, which focuses on completed courses and grades, a degree audit is a report that provides a clear picture of where a student stands in terms of meeting their graduation requirements. They can see how many credits they’ve earned and how many they still need to graduate. Most important, a student can review how the courses they’ve taken have been applied toward their major, minor and general education requirements, as well as the list of courses they still need to take to earn their degree. By looking at this information before senior year, a student will have a good idea of their path toward graduation.

Accessing a degree audit Most colleges make the degree audit available online. A student can usually access their degree audit any time they want by simply logging into their student account and making a few clicks on the right tabs. The information automatically updates, so a student will be viewing the most current data whenever they log in.

Understanding the details The degree audit provides a student with a full view of their academic record. Here they will find the number of credits they need to graduate and how many they’ve earned toward that degree. Also included is their current GPA, the courses completed, course requirements met and not yet met in their major and minor (if applicable), any incomplete courses, transfer credits, current courses and courses not assigned to a specific requirement.

A key or legend should explain what the various symbols mean, like a “+” sign for a course that’s been completed and an “-” for one still to be taken. A degree audit will help a student see if any changes have been made to their program requirements, like the number of credits needed to graduate, or additions or subtractions to the required courses list.

The “What If” option Many colleges allow a student to explore changing their major (or minor) through the “What If” option on the degree audit page. They can see how the courses they’ve already taken would be applied toward that new degree and how many more courses and credits would remain. This is a valuable tool to help a student evaluate whether to change their major. Any student considering changing their major, or adding another major or minor, should perform a degree audit and use the “What If” option by the end of sophomore year.

How often to check Conducting a review audit before registering for next semester’s classes provides a student with the most up-to-date list of still-to-be-completed courses. This will help when they meet with their adviser to discuss which classes to register for in the upcoming semester.

Checking at the start of each semester gives a view of how last semester’s courses were applied and an opportunity to check for any mistakes, like a course being incorrectly credited or assigned to a requirement.

Correcting errors If your student finds a course was wrongly assigned to a requirement, or not credited, they should first meet with their adviser and then contact the Registrar’s office. This might also be necessary if they took a course they expected would count toward both their major and minor, or fulfill both a general education and major requirement. Changes to the list of required courses also warrant a visit to their adviser to see how this will impact their path toward earning their degree.

A degree audit is a helpful and important tool to keep a student on track to earn their college degree in the time they expected. Ultimately, reviewing a degree audit at least once a semester will save time and money.