Tracking Academic Minors Time-Consuming for Some Departments

Jacob DeCarli ’22, Associate Managing Editor

Some teachers are burdened by having to track academic minors in their departments without help from Dickinson’s registrar’s office. 

Depending on the size of the department and the number of minors, tracking can take up a lot of time. Women’s, gender, and sexuality studies (WGSS) always faces many minors, sometimes even more than majors . The department is “disadvantaged by the college’s policy to not track minors,” said Megan Yost, associate professor and current chair of WGSS.

The department manually tracks “student’s courses, study abroad plans and internship plans” for advising purposes, and they track student’s completion of required courses, according to Yost. 

The Degreeworks system, which can be accessed through Dickinson’s Gateway, lists students’ completion of graduation requirements and major requirements, and reports their grade point average. Professors do not have access to any of this information for minors in their departments, however, said Katie Oliviero, associate professor of WGSS.

The process of manual tracking without Degreeworks online has led to WGSS department “spending more time working with minors than we are with majors,” Yost said. 

The inaccessibility of Degreeworks forces the department to “hand code” the students’ courses and requirements, said Oliviero. “It can take me twice as much time to advise minors as it does a major,” she said. 

Oliviero said the work put into tracking and advising minors is “equivalent” to the labor required for majors, especially when some semesters have “double the amount of minors than majors.”

The WGSS minor is important to the department. It’s “attractive” to prospective WGSS students and is “one of the ways that they’re able to develop a reasonably concentrated and comprehensive study of the field,” said Oliviero. 

“For small departments like us, we want to be cultivating knowledge of the field in a range of sectors,” said Oliviero.

Even though the department is relatively small, the tracking work is distributed to a smaller number of faculty. “In some ways, this creates an outsized burden for smaller departments,” Oliverio said, “because we are all committed to providing a quality experience to our students, as professionals and people who have personal relationships with students, we will just add it onto the other things we are doing.”

One of the reasons why the college does not track minors, according to Yost, is to devote available resources to guarantee tracking of majors. 

WGSS chairs frequently approach the Dickinson faculty, Library and Information Services, and the registrar to start tracking minors, according to Yost. “We are always told the same thing,” Yost said, “‘the system can’t handle it, there is not enough administrative staff to provide this support…’ from the WGSS perspective, these are not good arguments.” 

Yost also said that the college does not track minors to avoid the implication that students are “entitled to minors.”

Other departments with fewer minors have an easier time tracking, but would still benefit from some help. Alyssa DeBlasio, associate professor of Russian, said the department only has three to seven minors per year so it “doesn’t take up a lot of time on our end.” Still, DeBlasio said that it would be “beneficial to have that information in the system.”

Currently the college only tracks majors and minors in departments that do not offer majors, like astronomy and arabic, according to Mary-Ann Leidigh, the college’s registrar. 

The registrar’s office verifies any minors that students complete in their final semester. These are recorded on students’ transcripts along with majors and certifications. “Continually maintaining information on all minors would create a significant workload increase for the staff in the Registrar’s Office,” Leidigh said, “our focus is on making sure students have the courses they need for their majors and graduation requirements.”