Graduation more than a walk away

Danielle Directo

With graduation looming and prospects of the real world approaching, seniors often find themselves not sweating enough about the small stuff. Walking the stage and turning a tassel isn’t a guarantee that students can finally claim their CSUN alumni status.

Junior Yesenia Jauregui, who works behind the Info Desk in Bayramian Hall, gets bombarded with questions about everything from parking passes to graduation about every 30 seconds.

Not enough students are aware of deadlines, which are easily accessible on CSUN’s Web site, or check their Degree Progress Report (DPR) often enough to see if they have completed all of their requirements, she said. And if students are rushing to turn in their graduation forms at the last minute, they need to consider the long wait in lines that plague Bayramian Hall during the first weeks of school.

“Students seem to feel as though we pull these requirements out of a hat and spring them out on them at the last minute,” said Beatrice Turner, assistant director of graduation evaluations. Many students do not check their DPR online, she said, which is essential in tracking their college careers.

This spring alone, more than 4,000 seniors participated in commencement, but about 1,000 of them didn’t officially graduate because of unmet requirements. As of Aug. 13, about one-quarter of those 1,000 students have not yet fully completed the graduation process or received their diplomas.

Graduating senior Charles Rubinoff, 25, said he hasn’t had problems or confusion so far, but only because he’s already gone through it all. The graphic design major graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing three years ago.

“Nobody really explained to me what to do,” he said, and he had to figure out the process on his own. The first time around he also had no problems completing the required units needed for his major, but only because he regularly checked on his degree progress, he said.

The best way for seniors to stay on top of things is to “double check and speak with an advisor,” he said.

Graduation evaluations also sends a letter to graduating seniors approximately one month before the end of the semester to ensure any loose ends are tied in the graduating process. The most commonly overlooked thing, Turner said, is when students substitute a course in their major or repeat a class. The DPR cannot detect these changes on its own, and students or their major department might forget to notify the Graduation Evaluations office, which do not have the authority to make changes to students’ transcripts without the approval of their major department first.

“We’ve seen every emotion,” Turner said. One student even threatened to sue them because of incomplete requirements, she said. Often times, her staff is blamed by students when they realize their graduation process will be delayed. Ensuring that students have everything they need to graduate “requires action,” she said. “I cannot stress this enough.”

To avoid any unexpected delays in getting that diploma, here are some recommendations to make the process as smooth as possible:

– A minimum of 120 units are needed to graduate, and there are no waivers – zip, zilch, nada – if you fall short by one or two units. Try taking a kinesiology class. Most of them are one unit. Some are physically challenging, while others are not. Regardless, it’s a great way to de-stress during your final semester.

– Visit your major advisor. Not all departments require mandatory advisement, so it’s a good idea to double-check and confirm you have taken all of the required classes.

– Make sure you have taken the upper-division writing test, which costs $20. If you are graduating this fall, you can also take the test the following January if you can’t make the fall test dates or times.

– Transcripts that have not been transferred after the class has been graded can also hinder your ability to graduate on time. Check and confirm that any classes you have taken at other colleges have been completely transferred.

– Every requirement on the DPR must be met, even if you hear otherwise from students. Often times, Turner said, students think they can have requirements petitioned or waived because someone else told them they could.

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