Penguin PASS Plans for Academic Student Success


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Penguin PASS – or Planning & Academic Student Success – is a degree audit system and a new tool for Youngstown State University students and advisers. It is designed to give students easy access to their academic paths, help them understand degree requirements, and deliver the next steps to graduation

This system provides a comprehensive view of a student’s degree program and the ability to head off challenges in the way. Penguin PASS can help a student find the right degree and program to match career and life goals.

This summer we migrated from a different degree audit system to implement Penguin PASS. There were many compelling reasons to make the change. First, Penguin PASS features a responsive dashboard that can quickly point out criteria met and criteria needed for a degree. Second, it offers reporting tools to our colleges that will provide timely information regarding course offerings based on enrollment. Finally, the product we chose is one of many modules from our student ERP (enterprise resource planning) system; allowing real-time integration between the systems and providing the most accurate information regarding degree requirements.

Penguin PASS is now available to all current students, faculty, academic advisers and support staff. It is easily accessible via the Penguin Portal. Before implementation, we dedicated over a year working with the core implementation team, academic advisers and academic departments to build our degree requirements – and test, and test and test. Many thanks to YSU personnel who dedicated endless hours into making this implementation a success.

Beginning with the 2019-2020 year, we built curriculum rules in Penguin PASS for each subsequent year. Students will follow the rules of either their initial academic year, or the year a new major was declared. Each year there are changes made to degree requirements, enhancing specific programs and making our curriculum rules more effective.

Because the Penguin PASS requirements match the catalog year, the academic advisers reviewed the catalog year of our students, and made appropriate adjustments to ensure they are following the most beneficial catalog curriculum. In other words, we have taken the time to ensure our students are following the most efficient curriculum path based on the major.   

YSU students will benefit from using Penguin PASS in a variety of ways. It assists with planning the requirements needed to complete a degree; determines which courses have been taken or transferred; and which ones count as electives. A student can easily view transfer credits, and exemptions applied toward degree. Using the ‘What If” option, students can see how coursework can be applied toward another major. It also provides the ability to estimate how many semesters it will take to graduate.

YSU faculty and academic advisers will likewise benefit from using Penguin PASS. The system is intended to assist academic advisers and enhance the advising experience between adviser and advisee. The system is designed to support real-time delivery of academic advice through intuitive web interfaces; minimize errors through consistent degree plans; and reduce paperwork and manual program check sheets. Penguin PASS allows advisers to search for students by school, degree, and/or major to view degree progress.

This July we focused on training faculty and staff. To date, over 70 faculty, advisers and support staff have attended a training. In addition, Rosalyn Donaldson, director of IT training services, has provided step-by-step documentation on how to use Penguin PASS. With registration for spring semester about to begin, we want to make sure all students run a degree audit.  

Our next challenge is to implement the Student Educational Plan. This is a feature of Penguin PASS that allows advisers to build a customized degree plan for each student. Using courses already completed, together with unmet requirements, students will have a semester-by-semester plan of which course to take and when, providing them with a clear path for graduation.