As students, we have numerous requirements to keep track of in order to ensure that we will be eligible to graduate from college. Juggling all of these requirements can be difficult and sometimes things fall through the cracks. So if you are a senior who just realized that you’ve forgotten to apply for graduation, you are not alone.
As graduation season approaches, seniors may be full of questions about the graduation application process, timeline, and possible consequences for a late application. Kaleigh Pico (senior, Liberal Studies) is one student who has these questions. Pico asks, “If I applied late to graduation will my application be processed in time? If not, what do I need to do in order to graduate?”
Director of Enrollment Services, Lisa Bernardo, may be able to clear up some of these student questions. In answer to Kaleigh’s question, Bernardo says, “Students are advised to apply two semesters in advance so that there’s enough time to meet with their advisor to get the graduation approval back from the evaluator in time before their last semester so that if there’s any courses that they thought they took and they realized that they didn’t, there’s ample opportunity to do that. However, if they don’t that’s okay. Actually, we have students applying all the way up until the last day of the term that they’re going to graduate.”
Bernardo explains that there could be a number of reasons that students apply to graduate on the last days of the term. “They might have met with their advisor who realized, ‘Hey, you could graduate right now, you’re ready.’ So we don’t want to penalize them in any way. They can apply at any time.”
While it is possible to apply for graduation up until the last days of the semester, Bernardo does not advise students to do this. “Obviously when you’re on the last week there’s not a lot of time. If you’re missing something you probably have to extend another semester.”
If students visit the Graduation page on Stan State’s website, they may notice a section labeled “Filing Deadlines.” These deadlines may be part of what is causing students to panic about filing late. However, Bernardo explains what they really mean. “Those due dates are the priority due dates. That just means that you’ll have ample opportunity to get through all of the paperwork that you need to get through and you’re not rushing around as crazily as you would be on the last day.”
Another reason why students may have to delay their graduation application is the $60 application fee. “You can’t submit the application without the initial $60 fee. The payment is required at the time of the submission, so if someone isn’t able to pay it, that might be another reason why people have to hold off for a little bit. Maybe their financial aid hasn’t come through or they’re finding a different way to pay for it... We don’t take in the grad app if the $60 isn’t paid,” says Bernardo.
If a student does not apply for graduation prior to the end of the semester, but they have completed all of their requirements, they will have to apply during the next semester. “Say they finished all of their classes in spring, but they never applied and now we’re in July. They don’t have to be enrolled in order to apply for graduation. You would just apply for the subsequent grad clearing time,” says Bernardo.
In this case, the student’s record would show that they graduated during the term in which they applied not during the term in which they completed their requirements. Bernardo explains that this is because “we’re required to report to the chancellor's office every semester of who our graduates are, and we would not have included them because we wouldn’t have known they had finished.”
For students who have managed to apply this semester, Bernardo informs students on how they can track their application progress. “They can check their Stan Degree Progress and it will give the status of their graduation application.” To find your Stan Degree Progress, log into your MyStanState portal and locate the link under the “Academics” section.
At the top of your Degree Progress page, it will say what step your application is on. For example, if it has been submitted or if it’s being reviewed.
Additionally, Bernardo says that Enrollment Services send out an automated email to students once they have received the reviewed graduation approval form. At that point in time, they let students know that they are simply waiting for their final grades to be posted.
These ways of tracking the application process makes it easier for students to feel secure in the knowledge that they have done everything that they need to do. Bernardo explains that Enrollment Services began sending the automated messages once they realized that students were feeling anxious about not knowing the status of their application.
Before the pandemic, students physically took their applications from office to office, but now that everything is online, it’s harder for them to keep track of where their application is in the process.
Another side effect of the pandemic is that the approval process for graduation applications may experience delays due to the shift online. After the student submits their application, it is reviewed by an evaluator prior to a graduation approval form being sent to the student’s major advisor. This part of the process can differ from major to major, but it usually involves communication between the chair of the department and the student’s advisor.
Chair of the psychology department, Dr. William Potter explains how this process has been affected by the pandemic.
“We had to switch to everything online, install the correct software, learn how to process those forms with that software, and contact and set up Zoom meetings with students who also have a lot going on.” All of these changes may have caused some delays in the application process. On top of figuring out the new system, the members of the department who are reviewing applications are also handling the stress of teaching on a new virtual format and dealing with the other stressors caused by the pandemic such as children being at home and family members needing care during COVID. All of these factors may contribute to a slower approval process.
“It was a tremendous amount of sudden change, which I think the university is handling quite well,” says Dr. Potter.
Bernardo encourages students to review the Enrollment Services’ Apply for Graduation webpage. On this page, students can find a detailed outline on how to apply for graduation, and what the process looks like. Additionally, students may find the FAQ page helpful.