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Transforming the Student-Advisor Relationship with Appian Cloud

Staff, Appian
September 30, 2015

Everybody loves college. There's a reason it's called the best four years of life.

With the onset of a new college football season each fall, I am fortunate enough to get back to my Alma Mater for a few games. And each trip back I find myself saying, "man, what I would do for another year."

But I'll tell you what I certainly don't miss: Student Advising.

Talk about a bear! Scheduling classes, sending emails to your advisor that seem to get lost in a black hole, where I stand with major credits, you name it!

Many a times I wished there was a better system in place that would make things a whole lot easier for those hurdles along the path towards graduation.

And that is exactly what has taken place within the University of South Florida's College of Public Health.

To address cumbersome and paper-driven processes for similar issues, USF COPH partnered with Appian to migrate its student advising system to a cloud-based app that is accessible via mobile device. This new approach aims to bring everything together in one place for everybody to see, allowing faculty and students to quickly access not only degree requirements but also when mandatory courses are scheduled and in what semesters.

"The old paper-based system required students to know what courses they needed to take and to make their own suggestions about when to take those courses," said Jay Evans, Associate Dean of Finance, Operations, and Human Resources for COPH.

Appian's application platform was put in place to create a custom application that Evans likens to Facebook in terms of user experience. Optimized for mobile devices, the platform ties into the school's single sign-on process know internally as BANNER. USF COPH will test the new system with its approximately 900 graduate students starting this October before rolling it out to the entire school.

"The app is customized to our specific needs," explained Evans. "Appian gives us a toolbox to play with, but it's up to us as the customer to figure out our priorities."

With data stored in the cloud, the new approach reduces the demands placed on the college's IT department, while facilitating the school's desire to make services available from anywhere at anytime. "The goal is to make the student's life easier," said Evans. "What we're really trying to set up is a one-stop shop for students."

Looking to future deployments, USF COPH anticipates adding predictive analytics and dashboards to make things even easier. The school has also digitized the process for allowing students to request a different advisor, a process that used to take up to 10 days to complete.

Want to learn more about the USF COPH success? Follow news from next week's Gartner Symposium/IT Expo in Orlando, Florida, where USF COPH Chief Information Officer SidneyFernandes will share insights into the College's use of Appian's cloud platform.

-Mike Ingrisano, Media Relations Manager