From the moment we set foot on CSUN’s campus, we never stop thinking about graduation. For four years, or upward of five or six for most of us, the time does not seem to pass quickly enough. The closer we come to the finish line, the longer the days seem to become.
Then all of the sudden, it happens. The moment we’ve been waiting for. We begin the first day of our last semester.
Or so we thought.
For many of us, the semester we assumed would be our last quickly turns into our second-to-last. We thought we had passed go and would be able to collect $200. But then, after getting our DARS graduation printout in the mail, we realize that we are one, maybe even two, classes away from actually receiving our diplomas.
This has been the case for many seniors I have met, and even for those seniors it hasn’t happened to yet, many still wait to receive word that a missed class has inevitably delayed their graduation.
Students are advised to turn in their graduation applications at least one year in advance to help avoid things like this from happening. This is also meant to give graduation evaluators in Admissions and Records ample time to verify that each student has reached the minimum requirements.
But what happens when you are unable to turn the application in a year in advance?
In my case, it was because I had spent the year previous to my senior year on exchange in New York City, and was not going to be back in Northridge in time to go through all of the required steps in the graduation process.
Not only did I have to wait for my school in New York to send over my transcripts, but I then had to wait for CSUN to process those transcripts. I had to meet with my journalism advisor, and then take my paperwork from the advisor to the Journalism Department to be cleared. I had to go to the Political Science Department to get my minor cleared, and because I completed most of my minor while on exchange, I had to have those classes approved. Then, once I got all of that taken care of, I was able to turn in my graduation application, along with a late fee because I didn’t have it in on time.
I thought I had the process taken care of. I could wipe the sweat off my face, as I was ready for graduation.
Nope, wrong again!
That lovely DARS came in the mail and told me I was missing prerequisites for my minor. At this point, I really shouldn’t have cared, and would have just said, “Forget the minor; I just want to graduate.” But journalism majors like myself have to have at least so many units in a collateral field, and my DARS wasn’t even showing that I had that.
Again, I went through the process, and turned all the necessary paperwork back in. And finally, with only a couple of weeks until graduation, I was assured that as long as I passed my classes this semester, I would indeed graduate. Had I been told I still didn’t have all my ducks in a row, I think I may have just dropped out simply due to exhaustion.
While all of this may sound whiny, I know there are many other seniors who have probably endured this same mess in some shape or form. Some have probably had it much worse. Rather than just filling out a single piece of paperwork, being able to graduate meant I would have to take several hours of my valuable time to make sure all my i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed.
Once I made sure everything was in order, I had to double-check to make sure everything was being processed. I wonder if it’s not too much to ask that since I’ve already spent hours on end preparing everything, I don’t have to spend additional hours checking to make sure someone, somewhere is evaluating my file.
Graduation should be fun and exciting, but getting to that actual day is stressful and time-consuming, just like the classes themselves. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem worth the trouble.
While I am very grateful to all the nice people I’ve dealt with in each department — without them I think I might have had a nervous breakdown — I also think there has got to be a better way.