Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Secret Weapon to a Timely Graduation: APEX

Written by: Chelsey Duncan, Marketing Intern

            Many students know the courses they plan on taking next semester, but what about next year? The next two years? Senior year? The truth is, too many students rely on the semiannual advising appointment to find out which courses to take next. Although it may seem far off, that “distant” semester will arrive sooner than later, and it’s a good idea to have a framework laid out to keep graduation in sight and on time. As it so happens, UK offers a program for students to do just that. It’s called APEX, and access is as easy as logging onto the MyUK portal.
            APEX stands for “Academic Program Evaluation and eXploration.” Not only is it a valuable resource for evaluating progress of current and past courses, but it also allows the exploration of future classes and their usefulness towards a particular degree. This assessment can be applied to the student’s chosen degree program or possible minors, second majors and second degrees.
            Along with reassurance of being on track, APEX can make those semiannual advising appointments much more productive. Instead of spending time discussing required courses, students prepared with APEX can maximize advising sessions to examine possible electives, internships and career goals. In addition, students’ academic standing is easily reviewed and academic issues such as course pass/fail eligibility, duplicate credit and repeat options are addressed.
Students aren’t the only ones using APEX. In a Q&A with George Scott, the Robinson Scholars Program college services coordinator and advisor, he shared how APEX helps with advising sessions and how it benefits his students’ academic careers.

What advice do you have for students to make the most of advising appointments?
To experience the most positive and beneficial advising experience, the student needs to recognize that they need to be their own advocate.  The advisor does not exist to take care of everything for the student.  They are there to help, guide, and assist when needed.  Students need to prepare their schedule before their advising appointments, have an idea of what they want to do or where they want to go, or at least be prepared to have that kind of conversation with their advisor.  I’ve had students come in and say “You need to do this,” and that is the wrong approach.  Understand that the advisor is there to guide you and make sure you are on track for your graduation and requirements, so have the right mindset before going into an advising appointment.

What do you wish students did to better prepare for appointments?
As mentioned earlier, I have had a lot of great advising appointments with prepared students eager to learn and understand their program, but I have also had those who have put no thought into their college career, their schedules, or any other facet of their academic life.  These type of students need to develop a new attitude toward advising and the advisor, and recognize that they are just as much a part of the advising process as the advisor.  They need to contribute and indulge themselves in the conversation.

How important do you consider the APEX program to be and why?
APEX is very important.  Mike Shanks and the team within the University Registrar have spent a lot of time and effort to make APEX a wonderful tool for students to use to plan out their college careers and schedules.  It’s a great way for students to get an idea of what they need before they go into an advising appointment, that way they are prepared, and instead of wasting time in the appointment picking out classes, can actually discuss the major and the classes that the student has already learned about in APEX.  For an advisor, APEX is very important, in that it helps us keep track of what has or has not been completed, how many hours are left for a student to graduate, and how close they are to graduation.  APEX is becoming the number one tool on campus to review regarding students’ graduation.  Students want to make sure their APEX is correct, that they are doing what they are supposed to do, because it could affect their graduation later.  APEX can tell you not only what you’re doing, but you can also run multiple audits regarding other majors, in case a student is thinking about switching majors or just seeing how far off they are from minors.  APEX is very important and it is something I definitely spend a lot of class time in UK 101 teaching the students, so they are prepared for how to schedule, see what they need, and learn how to be their own advocates.  

As an undergraduate advisor, how useful is it for students who are considering different majors?
For students considering different majors, APEX is the ultimate tool.  A student can run any audit on any program in any college, even minors.  Students can see how far off they would be if they would want to switch majors or how close they are in another program, or even how easy it would be to double major.  APEX is an awesome source of information that can basically answer any questions regarding programs, majors, minors, paths, and options within those minors and majors. 

How do you use the program/how does it help you do your job?
APEX is very important to me as the Robinson Scholars advisor because, while my students are still mandated to see their primary advisor, I am their secondary advisor, and I see them on a daily basis.  They are constantly asking questions and want to keep up with their scheduling and programming, and without APEX, it would be a huge undertaking on my part of memorize and learn every piece of every curriculum that is out there.  I have so many students who are in so many different programs I am certainly not the expert on each and every one.  Thanks to APEX, I am able to look with my student at the requirements, the time it would take to graduate, the different tracks to graduate, and to help figure out majors and possible minors for the student.  I am a huge advocate of APEX, not only for advisors in signature programs like mine, but also for everyone on campus.

What advice do you have for students to stay on track and graduate on time?
Continue to meet with your advisor even if you think you know everything, because trust me, things can go wrong.  Sometimes APEX isn’t as accurate as you think, or sometimes it can be nuanced.  Trust your advisor and never think you know it all, because I have been a part of many situations where something was misread or misinterpreted.  In order to stay on track to graduate, do well in class and constantly meet with your advisor.  UK is home to the Advising Network.  We all talk, communicate, and truly care about our students.  There are great advisors everywhere on campus that want to see our students do well. 

Anything else students should know about advising appointments, graduating on time or APEX? 
Use it!!!
How to access APEX:
·         Go to
·         Login
·         Click Student Services tab
·         Click Degree Planner (APEX) tab
·         Select Primary Program Audit or What-If Feature
·         View Audits - Refresh List (if needed)

Go to to learn more.

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