Decoding the DARS: How I graduated a year early

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

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.

 

 

Author: Hadley Savoldi

Ohio University Scripps School of Visual Communication
Interactive Multimedia // Journalism Minor

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