California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 37, No. 4
June-July, 1997

CSU Mentor Project--Promoting Higher Education Opportunities in California

Technology: Multi-phased project designed to assist students in obtaining college program and entrance information, complete and submit applications, and communicate with college campuses-electronically.

Russ Utterberg, California State University Chancellor's Office

For the past two years CSU has explored aggressively ways to provide an enhanced level of services to students and potential students through the use of technology. As part of its efforts, the CSU formed the Student Friendly Services Through Technology subcommittee to coordinate, guide and expedite the development of a CSU-specific systemwide outreach, admission, and financial aid system that would employ the latest technology. After consultation with the Admission Advisory Council, Financial Aid Advisory Council, deans/directors of admission and records, and directors of financial aid and endorsement by the Executive Council, Technology Steering Committee, a three year contract was awarded to the XAP Corporation to develop, implement, and operate CSU's electronic application and information service. During 1996, the Student Friendly project was officially named CSUMentor™.

What will be the Benefits of the Mentor Project?

There are six features of CSUMentor™, including

Exploration Phase - enables students to gain an overview of California higher education opportunities

Student Academic Portfolio - allows middle and high school students to create a personal academic portfolio, report academic achievement and progress toward meeting CSU entrance requirements.

Preapplication Phase - enables students to retrieve information concerning individual CSU campuses to help select the campus of their choice.

Application Phase - enables students to apply electronically to one or more CSU campuses, pay required fees, etc.

Financial Aid Phase - enables students to receive an estimate of their financial aid eligibility and award amount, and to help provide a simpler financial aid delivery process.

Electronic Mail Capability - allows students to communicate directly with CSU campuses.

Implementation of Project Modules

In September 1996, at the request of the Executive Council, the Chancellor directed XAP Corporation to make available on the Internet the 1997-98 undergraduate and graduate admission application by November 1, 1997. We are pleased to report that as of March 31, 1997, 32,918 individuals have accessed the CSUMentor™ application website and 1,878 applicants have applied on line (1,345 undergrads and 533 graduates).

Through an extensive collaborative process involving campus staff members, XAP Corporation is continuing to build the remaining modules with an implementation date of November 1, 1997.

Tasks Assigned to Campus Participants

Campus staff members have indicated which design committees they wish to participate in to advise XAP Corporation.

In addition to the work of the design committees, directors of Admissions and Records (with copies to the VP, Student Affairs, etc.) have been asked to complete a detailed survey which will be used describe their campus in the various modules. The data to be collected is critical to the information provided in the project modules.

Future Issues To Be Resolved

As the project is developed, campuses have raised important issues and suggestions to further improve the scope of the project. The Chancellor's Office encourages campus participation and input to ensure that the project best represents all twenty three CSU campuses.

It was the intent of the project that applicants be provided the option to use credit cards via the Internet to pay for application admission application fees. Chancellor's Office staff hosted a meeting with campus representatives in February to discuss the issue and is still working CyberCash to ascertain the ability and convenience of applicants and campuses to use this process. Campuses will be kept informed of progress in this area.

Other Steps

In addition to Project Mentor, the CSU is working with the other segments of higher education to develop a statewide website to provide electronic access to every college and university in the state. This web page will link the CSU Mentor to the UC Pathways electronic application for admission procedures as well as linking to each campus home page on the web. A student from a computer with Internet access should be able to tour all of California higher education campuses and programs and then apply to the campus of his/her choice without ever leaving home.

This website is currently under development and, when completed, will provide a single, centralized starting point to the California State University system (teaching and education), the University of California system (research), the California Community College System (trades and vocational arts development), and California private and independent colleges. The website can be accessed at http://www.colleges.edu.

Russ Utterberg is Senior Director, Strategic Projects, for the California State University Chancellor's Office. His e-mail is .

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