Every great idea begins with a great plan.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” Fortunately for Mason students, the School of Management has developed a way to eliminate advance worrying through a Plan for Academic and Career Excellence (PACE).

“The purpose of PACE is to get students out of here on time with no surprises,” said Meggan Ford, Assistant Director of Academic Services. “We want students to be successful academically, get out of here on time and graduate with no surprises.”

Though it has been in place since 2005, a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation allowed the School of Management an opportunity to overhaul the technology in order to better serve the students. The grant assisted with upgrades that allow for more interactivity, including the ability for students to view their individual progress toward personal goals, use interactive checklists and post accomplished goals to their social media pages.

While the PACE website was being upgraded, the School of Management’s academic and career advisors considered that today’s students prefer multimedia rather than large blocks of text and, in response, added more video and audio presentations.

“We really tried to go through and put ourselves in the students’ position,” Ford said. “A lot of the videos we use are very interactive and walk them through step-by-step so they understand.”

In order to address the concerns of first-generation college students, the program is designed to answer questions and provide an in-depth look at progressing through academia at Mason.

PACE is designed to keep students on track with academic and career aspirations, setting a tempo that encourages students to complete their degree in eight semesters.

Outside of academics, PACE focuses on getting students involved as underclassmen, encouraging them to select a major and explore other resources throughout the campus. As they progress, students are reminded of the opportunity that exists to study abroad, seek out internships and prepare for graduation. The program then concludes with the student’s degree and becoming involved in the alumni association of Mason.

“We want students to be better prepared and learn the interview skills and have their personal pitch,” said Barbara Moorman, an Academic Advisor within the School of Management. “All of that is within PACE as well.”

Though many of its features are designed specifically for business majors and students within the School of Management, the non-academic portion of PACE is available for all students within the university. The service is available to both transfer students, as well as first-year and traditional students.

“Anybody can use the PACE product,” Ford said. “It is geared toward business students but all of the reminders are blanketed for Mason as a whole.”

To make it more exciting for students, academic and career advisors added a section in which they use video to introduce themselves and allow students to put a face to their name.

“We want students to know that the faculty is here for them, not just inside the classroom,” Ford said. “It makes students feel more connected to what is going on in the School of Management. The fact that they can see someone in a video, as opposed to just reading about them, will hopefully make them more comfortable to come in and talk to faculty.”

Because the interactive site was just re-launched this semester, the School of Management has not had much time to get the word out about their product. The hope, though, is that students will find the tool effective and PACE will become the best way for Mason students to Plan for Academic and Career Excellence.