Audit Structure

Critical Components

The CENTSS Online Student Services Audit comprises 31 individual student service audits. Each audit contains between 5 and 14 questions that correspond to “critical components” for delivering that service. Critical components are student touch points – ways students experience an institution’s particular service. Critical components are important parts of a service whether it is delivered online, face-to-face, in print, or via telephone.

During the audit process, respondents are asked to read the critical component while viewing their institution’s website and choose the response that most closely matches how the student service is being delivered via their website now. Because services are being directed to students, critical components are to be read with the prefaced phrase in mind, “As a student, I can...”. See the examples at right.


The CENTSS Online Student Services Audit uses “Generations” to describe the overall level of service being delivered to students – both at the Service level and at the Critical Component level. Generational scores range from 1 to 5 with higher numbers representing increasingly more interactive and more personalized ways services are delivered to the student. Generational scores are described as follows:

  • Generation 1
    Service is not provided on web site
  • Generation 2
    Informational, internal focus on institution
  • Generation 3
    Informational, audience focused (prospective students’ link, continuing students’ link, etc.)
  • Generation 4
    Process oriented – customized community, personalized, portal
  • Generation 5
    Virtual mentor – process orientation, and decision making guide