Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success University Advising Center

Degree Planner after-action report and advisor incentives announced

Degree Planner was introduced to students at the end of the Fall 2022 semester as a tool that supports the SMU in Four – SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) –SMU’s comprehensive approach to improving retention and four-year graduation rates. 

The Degree Planner in the my.SMU Student Dashboard is a powerful tool that can provide students with a personalized, pre-populated degree plan to help them on their journey to graduation. This degree path provides a sequence of courses that will fulfill degree requirements and can be adjusted regularly to fit their future plans. This differs from the Degree Progress Report (DPR), the authoritative source for graduation requirements. 

Initial adoption efforts focused on the 5,348 Common Curriculum students who matriculated in the fall 2020 semester or after (213 Spring 2023 graduating seniors were excluded). Students received outreach on Degree Planner’s purpose, support with completion, and notification of their progress in a variety of ways: 

  • 1,201 students completed their Degree Planner for all remaining terms.  
  • 1,484 students completed their Degree Planner for the Fall 2023 semester. 
  • 8 Degree Planner Support sessions were held (4 in Caruth, 2 in Hughes Trigg, 1 in Meadows, and 1 Zoom Session)  
  • 7 Blog posts were written introducing Degree Planner, sharing progress, announcing raffle winners (on 2/2/23, 2/13/23, & 3/16/23 ), and general information on Degree Planner  
  • 7 Student emails were sent   
  • 130 Winners were selected in raffles to win prizes for completion of Degree Planner.  
  • To-do tasks were added to students’ My.SMU accounts. These to-do tasks were updated and removed weekly. 

We want to reward the following advisors with $100 Amazon gift cards for having the highest number of advisee completions University-wide: 

  • Dorie Beitchman 
  • Misti Compton 
  • Maria Crouch 
  • Christopher Logan 
  • Jennifer Malone 
  • Barbara Morhle 
  • Jeanene Renfro 
  • Caroline Rydquist 
  • Alyssa Wong 

Special Acknowledgement is also given to Janet Stephens and Alyssa Wong for their efforts in encouraging student completion and advertising our student support sessions.  

Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success

SMU in Four announces final Degree Planner raffle winners

Let’s give a big round of applause to all 758 students who completed Degree Planner before the final raffle deadline! 

For your Degree Planner to be considered complete:  

 Fifty winners were randomly selected to receive prizes courtesy of SMU in Four: 

Amazon Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Target Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Starbucks Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Visa Gift Card 

($25 value) 

SMU Flex Dollars  

($25 value)    

SMU Swag Bag 

($50 value) 

 Skyler H.  Michael G.  Breanna S.  Aaliyah A.  Grace B.  Steven B. 
Sarah B.  Spencer B.   Maya C.  Ria D.  Humberto O.  Daniele D. 
Mirana E.  Sofia G.  Jack G.   Arin J.  Eden C.  Annabelle L. 
Jack L.  Karen L.  Anna M.   Mason M.   Lily L.  Lucy M.  
Regina N.   Abby R.  Riley T.   Carina K.  Ava S.   
Alexander B.  Katie F.  Emma G.  Gracie H.   Tulsi L.   
Karis P.  Megan R.  De’Anna W.  Jaena Z.     
Oscar C.  Braden C.  Ella D.  Savannah H.     
Alexa L.  Matthew M.  Lily S.  Jess S.     
Natalya T.  Owen T.  Sydney B.  Remonda H.     

 Winners can come and pick up their prizes from the Office of General Education, Laura Lee Blanton Suite 100, from Monday, March 20th– Monday, March 27th.   

All Common Curriculum (CC) undergraduate students must complete Degree Planner by March 20.   

Visit for help getting started. 

Office of General Education SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success University Advising Center

SMU in Four announces 2nd-round winners of the Degree Planner completion raffle  

Forty winners were randomly selected from the one-hundred and eighty students who have fully completed Degree Planner.   

 In order for your Degree Planner to be considered complete, you must have:  

 2nd-Round Winners are: 

Amazon Gift Card 

($25 value) 

SMU Flex Dollars 

($25 value) 

Starbucks Gift Card 

($25 value) 

Visa Gift Card 

($25 value) 


Winners can come and pick up their prizes from the Office of General Education, Laura Lee Blanton Suite 100, from Tuesday, February 14th – Friday, February 17th.  

Still, working on your Degree Planner? No need for FOMO! You have one more chance to win some fantastic prizes! Prizes include $25-50 Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, Target, and Visa gift cards. You can also win Flex Dollars and SMU swag, such as baseball caps, sweatshirts, hoodies, and more!  

The deadline for the final raffle is March 10th at 11:59 pm! 

All undergraduate students on the Common Curriculum (CC) are required to complete Degree Planner by March 20.   

Visit for help getting started. 

Office of General Education SMU in Four University Advising Center

Known issue with Schedule Builder in my.SMU Student Interface

SMU in Four, Office of General Education, and the Registrar want to raise awareness of a newly discovered bug in my.SMU student interface called Highpoint.

When adding a class with a related component (lecture/lab combos) in Schedule Builder, the required component is not being pulled into the shopping cart or the enrollment transaction when directly enrolling from Schedule Builder.

Other institutions have already reported this to HighPoint, the software vendor of the Schedule Builder tool, and SMU has also added a note to the published issue that we would like a patch to fix this as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, the Registrar has developed a workaround for SMU students to utilize:

Option 1: If the student manually adds the classes to their shopping cart from Class Search, it will work.

Option 2: Workaround steps to follow within Schedule Builder.


  1. Go to Advanced Class Search
  2. Search for the course with lecture/lab combos like SPAN 1402 for Spring 2023 in Class Search
  3. Select the section you want to enroll in by selecting the 3 dots
  4. Options will appear. Select Enroll from the dropdown list
  5. The related Class menu page will load. Select Required Laboratory Section. Once you select the required laboratory section, the continue button will no longer be greyed out. Select Continue

Confirm enrollment options for the waitlist and select save.

We apologize for the need for a workaround during the enrollment period. Our hope is to work with the vendor to address the software issue as soon as possible. Should you have any questions, please reach out to your academic advisor.

SMU in Four

Academic departments asked to complete Common Curriculum Degree Plan review and verification

Department Chairs, School Records Offices, Directors of Undergraduate Studies, and SMU in Four School Implementation Team Members:

As part of SMU in Four, we are implementing a new tool to assist undergraduate students on the Common Curriculum in planning their path to timely graduation. You have been identified as a key stakeholder in the implementation of the new HighPoint Degree Planner tool available to students and advisors on November 29, 2022. A tentative timeline of this new tool’s rollout to campus is:

  • October 5: Request to academic departments to begin degree plan validation
  • October 24: Introduction video released to campus
  • October 31 – December 9: Campus training for advising staff
  • November 4: Degree Plan validation by academic departments complete
  • November 7-11: Updates to degree plans from departmental feedback
  • November 29: Security enabled for students and advisors
  • November 29 – December 15: Communication and training for students

As part of the HighPoint Degree Planner rollout, each academic department’s degree plan(s) must be verified for accuracy so that the plan fulfills all graduation requirements. SMU in Four School Implementation Teams are included in this communication to support verification efforts by academic departments.

To review the process and to complete the degree plan validation, we are holding five, identical Degree Planner Overview sessions between October 11 – October 13 to give each academic department and/or college designee(s) instructions on how to complete this task. You and/or a designee need only sign up for one time. Overview sessions are scheduled for the following days/times:

  • October 11 at 3:00pm
  • October 12 at 11:00am
  • October 12 at 3:30pm
  • October 13 at 11:00am
  • October 13 at 2:30pm

Register for a Highpoint Degree Planner Overview Session.

In advance of the Degree Planner Overview Sessions, security will be automatically granted to the department chair, school records office staff, and DUS (where applicable). If others need to be granted security, please email Weston Simmons ( to have security established. Security will be given to any staff who need to review the Degree Plan.

If you need further assistance after the overview session, you will be able to schedule individual meetings or come to a Degree Planner Drop-In sessions between October 17 – November 4 so that you can get your questions answered or receive one-on-one assistance with completing verification. Request a Highpoint Degree Planner Drop-In Session.

Please note that anyone with knowledge with your department’s academic plans is welcome to attend the session. Please forward this email; however, we will only be communicating reminders to the named audience on this email. For security, individual meeting information or for additional information about the HighPoint Degree Plan validation effort, contact Susan Flanagin ( or Weston Simmons (

Thank you for your investment in this process,


SMU in 4 Co-Chair

Dustin K. Grabsch,  PhD
Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education & Academic Success

O: 214-768-4887

Student Academic Engagement & Success
Office of the Provost
6185 Airline Road
Dallas, TX 75205

Click here to book an appointment

SMU in Four

Year-one progress and Common Curriculum degree planner


September 9, 2022


Dear Campus Community –

Welcome back for the fall semester! We’ve completed the first year of SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), SMU in Four, our comprehensive initiative to improve four-year graduation rates and retention. Thank you all for your contributions to important aspects of the QEP. We could not do it without you, after all, retention is a collective effort. We write with updates on the initiative as we look ahead to year two.

Leadership & Membership: First, the initiative is now co-directed by Dr. Molly Ellis, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Office of Faculty Success, and Dr. Dustin Grabsch, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education & Academic Success.

Next, in preparation for the new year, we would like to share the year-two membership rosters for all SMU in Four pillars/teams. For the 2022-2023 Academic Year, the chairs of each SMU in Four Pillars and Teams are:

  • Early Alert Pillar: Dr. Sue Bierman & Audryanna Reed
  • Academic Advising: Josh Beaty
  • First-Year & Gateway Courses: Dr. Paige Ware
  • Faculty Steering Committee: Dr. Paige Ware
  • Student Steering Committee: Dr. Dustin Grabsch
  • Technology Team: Curt Herridge
  • Assessment Team: Dr. Molly Ellis
  • School Implementation Teams: Dr. Sheri Kunovich

Join Us for a Progress Presentation: We will all gather at key moments throughout this five-year initiative. Our first will be the SMU in Four Year-One Progress Presentation for the SMU campus community on September 28, 2022 from 3:30 – 5:00 pm. Please RSVP and join us in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Auditorium. We will update the campus on our progress and goals for year two.

Undergraduate Degree Planner is Coming: To aid undergraduate Common Curriculum students in their progress toward degree, the SMU in Four Technology Team is developing a new tool called HighPoint Degree Planner within my.SMU. This tool will help students and advisors develop and sequence a personalized path to on-time graduation. HighPoint Degree Planner will not only benefit students and advisors but will aid academic departments in data-driven course scheduling and seat capacity planning. The new tool will launch to students on the Common Curriculum in November 2022.

In preparation, SMU in Four School Implementation Teams will be asked to work with academic departments to verify their degree plans within the HighPoint system. Instructions will be sent to department chairs (or a designee) to verify in September/October. Training and support sessions will be provided to the campus community and by request. Read more about the Common Curriculum HighPoint Degree Planner.

If you would like to stay abreast of updates related to SMU in Four, we invite you to subscribe to our blog or check out our updated website.



Molly Ellis

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Office of Faculty Success, Office of the Provost


Dustin Grabsch

Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education & Academic Success

Student Academic Engagement & Success, Office of the Provost