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Academic Plan Templates

CONTENTS

Students need the structure of prebuilt degree sequences (templates) to follow in creating their own plans. Templates formalize your institution-specific guidance on which courses to take and in what order, so that students can complete their degree path on time.  

Template Library

The Plan Templates library (select the blocks icon on the sidebar) manages templates centrally for your entire institution. This central library lets your advising team keep the templates up-to-date, view their details, and share them directly with students.

Tip: All columns are sortable. Select a column heading, such as Major, to sort the templates alphabetically by that column; select the heading again to sort them in descending order.

Search — Use the search box next to the New Template button to determine if the template you need exists yet. Use search terms that appear in the template's Title. 

For example, if you know the template is for the college of Agriculture but that word doesn't appear in the template title, searching on "agriculture" won't list it.

Status — Use the Status column to determine whether the template is available for student planning:

  • DRAFT — Blue means the template is writeable but can be seen only by its creator. 
    This is the only mode in which edits may be made to a template.

  • PUBLISHED — Green means the template is visible and read-only, available for you to APPLY to student plans. If changes are needed, select COPY.

  • ARCHIVED — Gray means the template is visible and read-only for staff members only. You cannot APPLY it to student plans, but you can COPY.

Building a Template

Adding a plan template lets you share the same plan with any number of students without recreating it over and over again. If you have the Manage Template permission, you can build a plan that can be reused throughout your institution as a template.

You create templates one of two ways:

  • Bulk import existing templates during implementation

  • Manually build templates using the template builder provided (the NEW TEMPLATE button)

When you create a new template (or copy and edit an existing one), you work with these elements:

Details

On a template, select the details (such as College, Degree, Major, Minor, as configured for your institution) to clarify the scope and use of the plan.

Tip: The Description field is optional, but it is a good opportunity to capture context and motivation, such as to explain how a B.A. alternative differs from the B.F.A. degree and why you might choose it.

Double Majors — You can design plans for multiple majors and multiple minors. These are separate plans, not additions to an existing template. This means that if, say, Economics requirements change, you might need to update both an “Economics” plan and an “Economics/Mathematics double major” plan.

Plan details, showing double major

Term

On a template, you add the ordered set of semesters or sessions that are being planned out, including blocks that might need to be scheduled, such as Summer and Winter terms. 

If it’s common at your institution to have similar but slightly different templates for different start terms, create templates for both scenarios and use a naming convention such as “Art History- Fall Start” and “Art History - Spring Start”. You do not need to build each from scratch: Build your first template, such as “Art History - Fall Start”, then click Copy to create another version. Edit the copied version and publish.

Course

On a template, you add a course to a given term by clicking Add item on the planning canvas and typing values to look up active courses from your catalog.

Auditing — Currently, plans do not reconcile against degree requirements, nor do catalog lookups filter by them.

Locking — On both templates and individual plans, you can lock and unlock specific courses. Students cannot delete or move a locked course. Locking can help prevent errors, such as when moving a course from a term would jeopardize the timing of subsequent courses.

Troubleshooting: You cannot add a course unless it's "active" in the catalog (effectiveStatus = 'active' AND catalogPrint = 'true'). If you see problems with course availability, contact your implementation lead or support@civitaslearning.com.

Non-course item

Create a non-course item by clicking Add item on the planning canvas and typing your own entry.

  • On a template, add non-course items to hold cohort-wide suggested activities, such as internships and program applications. 

  • On an individual student plan, use these to record the student's own scheduling requirements, such as extracurriculars, practices, or work-study jobs.

Placeholder

Placeholders are visual flags to prompt the student to take action and select an appropriate course option. When the student clicks the placeholder, they can type to search the course catalog.

On a template, turn a non-course item into a placeholder by editing its details and clicking the Is placeholder checkbox.

Locking — On both templates and individual plans, you can lock and unlock placeholders. Students cannot delete or move a placeholder; as with all locks, they must discuss it with you and have you release it.

Comment

On a template, comments are for general advice, reminders, and cautions. Template comments cannot be deleted from a student's plan.

On a student plan, comments let you communicate directly with the student in a way that is visible to everyone involved with that student's plan. 

Important: Never put possibly sensitive information on a student plan: restrict that to Advising notes for the student.

Managing Templates

If you have the Manage Template permission, you can edit, manage, and view all templates (draft, archived, published) across all users. This makes it possible for stakeholders to review changes before publishing.

Status — Because templates must not change mid-stream on students, the library only allows changes to templates in DRAFT mode. This means you will never edit an existing PUBLISHED or ARCHIVED template. Instead, you select COPY and make your changes on a new draft, which will replace the old one.

Naming — Because Search depends on the template's Title, use a template naming convention that is comprehensive enough to be self-explanatory and findable. The best practice is to order from general to specific (degree > major > minor > concentration) using the terminology of your auditing system (B.A. English, Technical Communication).

Sample Workflow

Steve needs to update the template for the B.S. Biochemistry degree. He searches on "biochem" and locates the template. He opens it and selects COPY. In the popup "Template copied successfully", he clicks VIEW. He makes the corrections to the foreign language requirement that the college reported as being wrong. He leaves the template in draft mode until he can complete it. Once he verifies the requirements from the auditing system, he selects PUBLISH. He then opens the prior version and selects ARCHIVE, so that advisors cannot accidentally send out the old one.

Applying Templates

You can apply templates for individuals or for groups of students, whenever needed. You can also add personal messages for the student to see on their plan:

Advisors can add a personal message to the top of a student's plan

Good to Know 

  • Templates populate terms according to their calendar pattern: if the template starts in a Fall term, the possible start terms must be Fall terms.

  • Applying a template is non-destructive: the student’s current plan is saved, and your template populates their new Primary plan. 

  • To undo applying a template, restore the prior plan to being Primary and then delete the new one.

  • Plans are not retroactive: the Apply Template wizard will prompt you for the Start Term (current or future only), which is where it will begin populating the plan. 

  • If you are trying to apply a template with a course that is no longer active (effectiveStatus is NOT “active”), you will be alerted so that you can update it.

Look Up Students 

While viewing the template you want to use, select the Apply button at the top right, and select your student by looking them up by name or ID in the search box. You can look up additional students as needed. 

Look up a student by name or ID by typing in the field

Finish the wizard: Select the Start Term, confirm your entries, add a message, and select Apply Template.

When you apply a template to a student and confirm, it shows the dismissible message the student will see

Upload Students

It's no harder to push out new templates to groups of students. Although you can look up students one at a time, take advantage of the uploader:

  1. From an Advising student list or another source, collect the IDs of the students whose plans you need to update.

  2. Paste them into a text file (one ID per line), and save it as a .CSV file. 

  3. Double-check that the IDs you have are correct; the system does not validate the IDs during the upload step.

  4. Select the Apply button at the top right, and browse to or drag your .CSV file to the Select Student pane.

  5. Finish the wizard: Select the Start Term, confirm your entries, add a message, and select Apply Template.

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