Loyola launches new students records system


Screen grab of a LORA error page.

Brendan Heffernan, Life and Times Editor

LORA, the software system that has housed Loyola students’ course registration, tuition, and financial aid records since 1979, is older than some Loyola professors.

But this semester Loyola is beginning the transition to Colleague, a cloud-based student records, financial aid, and human resources management system in an effort to streamline university processes.

Colleague will be up and running on campus in time for students to register for summer and fall semester classes this April, according to Lorraine Chotin, executive assistant for enrollment management, student affairs, and marketing and communications. Chotin said that the new system should eliminate long wait times students usually associate with registering for classes at Loyola.
“You can expect the actual process of registering for your course sections to be more intuitive and user-friendly,” Chotin said.
The new system will also give students the ability to plan out their course schedules semesters in advance and see what classes they need to take to fulfill their graduation requirements, according to Margaret Frazier, associate dean of the College of Music and Media.
Colleague will also allow students to have access to real-time degree progress, course information, grades, financial aid, and bills from their phones, tablets, or laptops, according to Lindsay Stanley, the public relations director for Colleague’s developer, Ellucian.
The software has already been implemented at more than 650 institutions around the world, according to the company’s website. Stanley said that Colleague will make “everything” easier for Loyola students.
“Essentially, Colleague will deliver a user experience that students are used to in other areas of life – easy to use and easy to access, anytime from anywhere,” Stanley said.
Jose Hernandez, jazz studies junior, said that as a student with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, LORA always felt more like an obstacle to overcome rather than a tool that helped him get the answers he needed.
“With LORA, I feel like I have to jump through so many hoops to get what I need done,” Hernandez said. “It’s a source of stress, mostly. I mean, it’s something that I don’t regularly check because it’s hard to check.”
Hernandez said what he wants most out of Colleague is a simpler and more reliable way to access important information like his financial aid documents and course waitlist statuses.
Stanley said that Colleague is accessible by everyone and is in compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium’s latest web content accessibility guidelines. Ellucian will also prioritize the experiences of students who need accommodations throughout future software updates by making decisions using internal research and feedback from students, Stanley said.
“By updating our standards and continually listening to user feedback through research, we can help Loyola students get their tasks done with comfort and ease, regardless of their disability or situation,” Stanley said. “Solving problems with an empathetic mindset helps us to conform to the law and leave fewer users behind, enabling everyone to be successful.”
While Chotin and Frazier are both confident that Colleague will make students’ lives easier, they each expect to deal with some bumps in the road as the new system is rolled out. Frazier said the process is designed to take several years but that Loyola is tasked in implementing it in less than one year. She said she wanted students to know that Loyola will be working on refining things in Colleague for years to come.
“I would ask students for patience as we all learn how to navigate and use the new system,” she said, later adding “Loyola staff are working their behinds off to make this happen. They are truly the heroes of this whole thing.”
Hernandez said that he is apprehensive about the new system considering his previous delays, but he is hopeful that the new software will make life at Loyola easier for students.
“I’m somebody who has a lot of accommodations from the student success center and a lot of my accommodations are based on these online sites, like Canvas and LORA, because they are the bane of my existence,” he said. “So I guess I’d hope that it would accommodate a bit more for people who are not tech savvy.”