Decoding the DARS: How I graduated a year early

The hardest part is over. You’ve applied, been accepted, and are ready to begin life as a Bobcat. Aside from all the excitement of giving your dorm room that personal touch, bonding with your roommate over  your newfound independence, and binge eating during that first trip to the dining hall, you suddenly realize that you’re here to obtain a degree. Enter the Degree Audit Reporting System, or DARS, and welcome to the Bible of your college career.

DARS Cheat Sheet. Use this to help decode what each symbol on the stars means.
DARS Cheat Sheet. Use this to help decode what each symbol on the stars means.

According to Ohio University, your DARS report is the official tool for tracking your academic progress, which analyzes degree requirements for a major, minor, or certificate according to the catalog year in which you entered the program. DARS reports are the printed results of the analysis. The DARS report displays the courses from which you must select in order to complete degree requirements, and it shows how the completed courses apply toward those requirements. In in simpler terms, the DARS is a report that tracks your progress to graduation based on the academic track you’ve chosen to embark on.

I’m going to explain the DARS step by step, because whether we like it or not, this little document full of random course titles and confusing phrases is the key to graduating. Uncover what those requirements mean, which options best fit you, and how to successfully turn each section from red to green.

  1. Locate the DARS 


2. University Requirements


3. Tiers


4. Course Requirements


5. In Progress Classes


6. Course Offerings


7. Free Electives 


8. Course Record


9. What-If DARS 


Go ahead and take a deep breath. You are now on your way to becoming a master of the DARS. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to your advisor, set up a time to meet, and relish in the comfort of knowing how to stay on track to graduation.


Recap: Advice From Advisors 

  1. Read your DARS carefully. Take time to sit down and read through your entire DARS.
  2. Plus (+) and minus (-) symbols appear next to each section on your DARS and provide a guide as to what you have completed and what you still need to complete before you can earn your degree.
  3. Also, pay attention under each area where it says NEEDS.  This is telling you exactly what you still need to complete, whether it’s a specific course or set of courses, or a certain number of credit hours.
  4. It’s always important to email your academic advisor if you have questions.  You can find your academic advisor in two places: 1) In your MyOhio Student Center portal and 2) on the left side of the first page of your DARS, located just beneath your GPA.
  5. If you need an appointment with your academic advisor, always be prepared for your appointment.  Print and bring a copy of your DARS if you can, come with a list of your questions and concerns and bring a paper and pen to write down the information your advisor gives you.
  6. Use the course catalog to look up required classes for every major, minor and certificate.  This is also a great way to check requisites for classes, so you can be sure you’re eligible to enroll in the class yourself.


Other Resources

Ohio University offers advising help in the Allen Center on the fourth floor of Baker Center Monday–Thursday, 8 a.m.–7 p.m and Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Other majors also offer walk-in advising during a specific block of time once a week, no appointment necessary. Check with your advisor for details.



Capstone meeting shows some soul

They say for every credit hour you’re enrolled in, you should spend double the time on that class additionally. What they don’t say is that your capstone is actually the one class that is not included in this equation. Instead of multiplying the average time by two, your capstone multiplies it by 24/7.

I am the project manager for Soul of Athens, an interactive multimedia capstone production. This year, we’re creating a website focusing on Appalachia, from content production, to user testing, to coding. Oh, and did I mention we only have 15 weeks from conception to birth?


Because of the time frame everything runs on a tight schedule, which naturally requires additional meeting times outside of class. Our designated class time falls on Tuesday and Thursday for an hour and 20 minutes. Our other meetings range from one to five hours on Monday, Friday and even the weekend if necessary.

It’s definitely a time commitment and I sometimes think to myself, what have I gotten into? But we all work together really well and I know we will have something beautiful to show for it in the end. – Elaina Duti, website developer

Every Friday we meet in the second floor conference room of Schoonover Center for four and a half hours to decide story directions, sketch wireframes and discuss frameworks. Accompanied by Donkey coffee and off brand chocolate chip cookies, each content team met with the interactive side about the heart of their narrative and how they envision it to be portrayed. Upon bouncing ideas off of each other, we all began to see a common desire of how to best tell the story of Appalachian land though its people, our theme for Soul of Athens 2016.

As concepts continue to blossom and evolve, there is only one theme that remains concrete as of now: do not recreate Snow Fall. We don’t want our site to look like a plug and play rip-off of something that has already been done before. I guess we could consider it our team motto since I literally hear the phrase “Snow Fall” 10 times a day.

We will NOT be mimicking Snow Fall…SOA 2016, like you’ve never seen before. – Melissa Riggs, creative strategist

Emily Rich, SOA designer, sketches website layout ideas during the meeting. Rich is an Interactive Multimedia major at Ohio University.
Emily Rich, SOA designer, sketches website layout ideas during the meeting. Rich is an Interactive Multimedia major at Ohio University.

Although we still have many meetings to go before our launch date, the ample amount of time spent on this website will be worthwhile, I think. I’m gaining valuable knowledge about how large team productions work while remaining in the small bubble of Athens, OH. Hopefully the experience won’t leave me soulless in Athens instead.

Soul of Athens will launch April 19, 2016. In the mean time, come watch the journey unfold with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and learn more about the team behind it all.




Victoria Goss: Taking a chance

Victoria Goss
Victoria Goss, owner and creator of Last Chance Corral in Athens, OH has a passion for rescuing horses, primarily nurse mare foals. Goss believes that she can do the most with the least as long as she is saving innocent lives.

“It didn’t occur to me what I was doing at that point, but I started once in a while taking in a horse temporarily and dealing with it and then passing it along. Even when I started the Last Chance Corral 35 years ago, there were not horse rescues. There was the SPCA and that was it. This was an original idea that I came up with knowing that there were so many [horses] and they didn’t have any place of asylum. They didn’t have an option besides sure and certain death. That’s all they had.

There’s only one thing that’s yours and yours alone, and that’s your reputation. You’re the only one who can make it what it is and hold it to a certain standard. If you’re going to be successful in this world people have to trust you. People are not going to trust you if they feel you are not credible. And you are the only one who can make that happen. No one’s going to give it to you. And they can’t take it from you. They certainly can try and we all know about that. But that kind of being able to visualize your future and the necessity of being true to your ideals, that’s immeasurable.” #PlanetAthens


In my place: Alden Library

The view from behind the Learning Common's Desk. As a Multimedia Specialist at Alden Library, Savoldi assists patrons with everything from printing to checking out books.
The view from behind the Learning Common’s Desk. As a Multimedia Specialist at Alden Library, Savoldi assists patrons with everything from printing to checking out books.

I hate Ohio University.

Yes, you read that right.

This is no home away from home for me. I knew from the moment I arrived freshman year that this was not the place I was meant to be. From the party scene reputation to the small town vibe, I just don’t fit in here. After considering transferring, I decided on graduating a year early and staying busy with work in the meantime. So then began the journey to find a job, but little did I know that this job would actually end up finding me.

I started working at Alden Library as a Multimedia Specialist in September of last year. Every day the tasks remain the same: addressing printing issues, checking items out to patrons, making sure the supply table is stocked, answering online chat questions, the list goes on. Some may think I’m crazy for enjoying such a mundane line of work; however, it’s the morale of Alden’s Learning Commons that invigorates each shift.

This job is more than just a place where I clock in and out. It’s allowed me to meet some of my dearest friends while also gaining valuable experience to build my resume. Not only do I get to interact with my fellow coworkers, but I also get the pleasure of helping fellow Bobcats discover the tools they need to better their studies.

Every time I walk through those double doors, I forget about the melancholy Athens brings me. Whether it’s a hectic Monday afternoon or late night Friday shift, the positivity never fades. Alden has given me the ability to see my potential, find my passions and ultimately recognize the radiant person I’m supposed to be.

Although hate may be a strong word, so is love and I absolutely love my job at Alden Library. It’s my favorite place to be.