Faced with the struggle of making his college schedule fit his life, Robert Strazzarino did not do as many students might, and either take fewer classes, or take none at all. Instead, the Cal State Chico student decided to lean into the computer science degree he was earning and start coding.
Before graduating, he built an app that allowed him to select the courses he needed, and then block times he needed free for work or other activities. In one click, all of the schedules that met his criteria populated on screen. He could then hone it further and further with additional selections and preferences. He found the schedule he needed. In short order, half of the students at Cal State Chico were also using his Schedule Planner app.
Today more than 3.7 million students have used the app across over 250 institutions, and research is showing it’s increasing the number of courses students take as well as their persistence from term-to-term. “The ability to schedule breaks when needed is critical,” said Strazzarino. “According to Public Agenda’s national survey of young adults, ages 22 to 30, 71 percent of the responding college drop outs cited needing to work as the reason they dropped out, and 48 percent claimed they couldn’t return to college because there were no classes to fit in their schedule.”
Strazzarino recalls one advisor’s story as they were implementing Schedule Planner. The student had contacted the advisor to say she was going to have to drop out because she couldn’t find a schedule to accommodate her needs. She worked from 4 p.m. – 12 a.m. four days a week and could not attend morning or Friday classes. In addition, she could only attend at one of the institution’s several campuses. She also needed two courses that were only offered periodically. The advisor plugged her classes and constraints into Schedule Planner, and with a click found the one (and only one) schedule out of thousands of possibilities that could fit her needs.
In episode 4 of the Catalytic Conversations podcast series, Civitas Learning’s co-founder Mark Milliron talks with Robert Strazzarino about entrepreneurship, his drive to help other students, and the interesting additional outcomes he’s finding as his app helps administrators plan course loads and advisors balance traffic to their offices.
Civitas Learning acquired Strazzarino’s company College Scheduler in January 2016, and retains him to lead the Schedule Planner solution. To learn more, visit Solutions at civitaslearning.com