Florida Polytechnic University enters its next chapter with improved student success and efficiency

Florida Polytechnic University – the state’s only all-STEM public institution – has rapidly become an innovative leader for accessible education in engineering and applied sciences, so much so that the incoming class is expected to substantially increase in the Fall of 2024. 

Since it opened its doors in 2014, Florida Poly has been iterating on its processes to enhance student success and support its growing enrollment – all to realize the vision of becoming the academic leader in building Florida’s tech economy, as stated in their strategic plan

“We’re a young institution.  There's a lot that we've been developing over the years. Improving student success, our business processes, and the way that we manage our students, have been key focuses.” - Andrew Konapelsky, University Registrar 

To make comprehensive progress in those areas, Florida Poly elected to implement Stellic. Today, the platform is helping 80% of students to create an optimal degree path – and at the same time, it’s helping advisors and the Registrar’s Office earn back the efficiency that’s needed as the institution moves into its next phase.

“We requested a Stellic demo, and the rest is history. It’s been a dramatic improvement in how we manage things.” - Andrew Konapelsky, University Registrar

Below we share their story and the impacts that Stellic makes to Florida Poly’s unique institutional profile.

Scaling infrastructure to support Florida Poly's growth

Establishing a new institution is an enormous undertaking – involving everything from accreditation and recruitment, to crafting a cutting-edge curriculum. 

Because of these factors, many of Florida Poly's systems were not meant to scale with the institution. For degree audits in particular, the Registrar’s Office used to manually update Excel spreadsheets for each student every semester, a method that was time-consuming and increasingly impractical as the University expanded.

For students, this meant printing their latest degree audit, marking classes, and meeting with an advisor to map the rest of their academic journey. Without real-time information, advisors couldn’t get a full picture of a student’s past to offer suggestions for their future.  If you were a student with transfer credit or withdrew from a class, it wasn’t easily captured in your spreadsheet. 

The school's next milestone was clear: replace outdated manual spreadsheets with a modern degree audit system, and dramatically improve student success through degree planning and advising tools. Stellic emerged as the solution to achieve these objectives and has since become the cornerstone of that transformation.

Unlocking real-time degree progress data

The accuracy and real-time visibility of a modern degree audit have delivered a fundamental difference to Florida Poly. There’s now a clear medium for students to understand their progress, and for advisors and administrators to track student progress in bulk – marking a huge shift from their previous state. 

“Stellic is programmed to be accurate, which means we're working with a clean slate moving forward. No more missing requirements that we didn't realize were missing because of a mistake in the paper audit and having to tell students who were three or four years in that they couldn’t graduate when expected.” - Andrew Konapelsky

Putting students in the driver's seat

Florida Poly students are hungry to find their best-fit path to graduation so they can dive into the state’s booming tech workforce. Today, they are in a much better position to do that. 

Nearly every Florida Poly student is dragging courses that satisfy remaining requirements and match their interests, and dropping them into a multi-term planner – all in a way that accounts for their goals and current progress. 

“The whole user experience makes it easy for students to take ownership, because now they can assess what’s possible given where they stand. They can answer questions for themselves like ‘how am I going to graduate?’ or ‘can I graduate early?’” - Jay Hoying, Associate Registrar

Beyond showing students what coursework they have left, the platform helps students understand the ramifications of decisions about their journey and empowers them to act accordingly. 

“A student can put their mouse over a course or program and [the platform] highlights all the classes where pre-reqs and requirements have been met. It's a good way for them to decide to study more and work a little harder to stay on track or take a lighter schedule to focus more on rigorous curriculum.” - Andrew Konapelsky

Using accurate data to meet student and enrollment needs

“It’s really beneficial being able to use real live need data to predict our schedule offerings. That alone was a huge need for us.” - Andrew Konapelsky 

No two years have looked the same in Florida Poly’s history. Each incoming class outnumbers the last and the curriculum is constantly being refined, just to name a couple of variables. 

Those variables made it challenging to forecast needs like course offerings and sections, and those decisions inevitably involved a combination of guesswork and spreadsheet manipulation, which often took weeks. 

Stellic has brought this process from weeks to hours and has introduced greater accuracy. The improvement comes at a critical moment given their enrollment expectations for the future. 

“Our incoming Fall 2024 class is expected to significantly increase. I've been tasked by the provost to forecast what the new infusion of students is going to mean for our course schedule while balancing it with what our continuing students still need to take.” - Andrew Konapelsky 

Unlike most institutions across the U.S., Florida Poly doesn’t have 25+ years of data to inform decisions about the course schedule. So, the platform’s ability to aggregate data from students' degree plans and audits – offered in a clear and versatile way – is put to direct use.

“Even this week, I'm taking the estimates, and going into Stellic and seeing how many students will need each course so we know how many sections to schedule, and in turn, how many faculty members our departments need to secure.” - Andrew Konapelsky

Not only can the Registrar’s Office leverage these insights, but the data is democratized so that any administrator with permissions can make informed decisions regarding their curriculum and courses. 

“Our program directors and department chairs really love that we can deliver them information quickly. They crave data to make decisions, and Stellic produces it accurately.” - Jay Hoying 

Deepening the impact of advising

While Florida Poly students can take more ownership over planning, the stage is set for impactful advising from their success coaches and department advisors. 

In the past, spreadsheets and PDFs always involved a risk that some important information would fall through the cracks, which was a source of anxiety during and outside of advising sessions. 

By comparison, Stellic is now the single source of truth that gives both parties the clarity and confidence needed for impactful advising sessions.

“Now that everything is updated within Stellic, everyone has more confidence in the data they’re seeing in the platform than what they may have seen on a paper flowchart or advising sheet in the past.”  - Andrew Konapelsky 

Rather than using a session to double-check that everything is being accounted for, students now collaborate with advisors in a thought-partner capacity. The platform underpins those deeper conversations, such as the pros and cons of taking certain courses, or even helping students who want to graduate in less than four years to figure out their path. 

“Our advisors can now offer advice like ‘instead of doing 15 credit hours next semester, you should only do 12 because this one course in your plan is intense’. It's a very good tool to use for sparking those kinds of conversations.”  - Andrew Konapelsky 

Florida Poly success coaches and faculty are making heavy use of notes  – all of which are linked to a student's profile and can be shared between advisors. In under a year, advisors created nearly double the amount of notes than there are students at Florida Poly.  

“Notes have been a game changer. Just being able to keep track of what was said and when makes a huge difference. It’s one single source of truth for everything that everybody (with permissions) can see.” - Andrew Konapelsky 

Reinvesting into the future

“Since we’re not heads-down in data input every semester, we can collaborate with other areas on campus, work on other strategic projects, and even proactively identify potential improvements to our curriculum.” - Jay Hoying

The implementation has had a deep effect on Florida Poly’s efficiency as a whole. The Registrar’s Office in particular is reinvesting the resources that would’ve been spent on degree audit spreadsheets into more high-impact projects – many of which are crucial for Florida Poly’s next chapter.

The University is currently in the process of implementing an ERP, which will uplevel how they engage with student information. Now that their degree audits are easy to modify at scale, the Registrar’s Office and other departments identify exactly where the curriculum needs improvement, and can enact changes without fear that students and advisors will encounter unintended consequences. 

As they embark on new critical milestones, the Registrar’s Office – which oversaw the procurement and implementation – took a moment to celebrate their strides so far.

“Because of our implementation of Stellic, we were able to show our Board of Trustees that we’ve improved student progression term over term. Being able to achieve what we said we would achieve is a source of pride.” - Andrew Konapelsky

And they’re not stopping here. They plan to leverage other functionality in Stellic to support their students and stakeholders even further. 

Specifically, they aim to leverage Workflows to help streamline approval-based processes like course withdrawal and substitution requests, and leverage Stellic’s reporting for financial aid purposes. They also plan to use referrals, allowing advisors and staff to reroute students to support avenues like disability services or tutoring. 

Looking at the big picture, Florida Poly’s implementation of Stellic marks a milestone along their journey toward being the academic innovator behind Florida’s tech economy.

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