Online navigators will guide students

“New online tools” will help Washington state community college students choose courses, register on time, check their financial aid status and pay tuition and fees, reports the Seattle Times.

Navigating the state’s community-college landscape can be a bureaucratic nightmare for students — one made all the more maddening by an antiquated computer system.

Though the state’s 34 community and technical colleges make up a unified system, the computer network is a patchwork, lacking anything remotely resembling one-stop shopping for students wanting to manage their education online.

Many parts are 30 years old and students often must log into different applications or sections of a website to accomplish different tasks. Those challenges are intensified for students who attend more than one community college over the course of their education or start and stop it due to the demands of work or family.

Starting in August, a new web-based system, ctcLink, will create an advising center to help students “check registration dates, enroll for classes, review their academic plan, check on financial aid, pay tuition, request a transcript and contact an advisor,” reports the TimesCommunity College of Spokane and Tacoma Community College will pilot the new system.

In addition, the University of Washington is developing a new academic planner that will help community college students see how their credits will transfer, apply for a major and plan their four-year degrees.

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