Deadline changes to motivate seniors

With the added stress of completing classes and making sure credit hours are in line, seniors have one less thing to worry about as the Office of the Registrar introduces a new application timeline for graduation. The registrar’s new system now gives seniors a sliding application fee scale, so the fees go up the closer it gets to graduation.

The fee for seniors, who apply for fall graduation on time, or before Oct. 24, is still $50; but two additional deadlines have been added: Jan. 8 with a fee of $80 and March 30 with a fee of $100. According to Registrar Michele Hall, the decision to move to a sliding deadline scale was to encourage students to take action sooner in order to ensure a smoother path to graduation.

“The intent is not to break our students with fees; that’s never the intent. The intent is that this would be an incentive to get them in order,” Hall said. “We want everybody to have a pleasant experience when it comes to graduation, no surprises along the way.”

In the past, seniors often missed the graduation application deadline, and the only thing the registrar could do was push their application into the next semester. This prevented the student from graduating on time, regardless of whether or not all requirements were met.

The new system is also supported by academic advisers, who pushed the deadline date back two weeks per multiple advisers’ request, according to associate registrar Jason Moore. With the current system, students will have more time to meet with advisers and determine the steps needed to graduate on time.

Hall is hoping to compare the numbers from the 2010-2011 academic year with the numbers from this year to see if the new deadline is effective in getting students motivated to apply for graduation on time.

Previously, undergraduate seniors had one chance to make the cut – one deadline and a $50 fee to apply for graduation.

The registrar also proposed this new system to match graduate application deadlines. “We’re all on the same timeline; but also, what’s really great for graduate students, with these new fees we took, their fees reduced,” Moore said.

Although the application fees go up with each deadline, the money goes directly into the commencement ceremonies themselves, according to Hall.

“This money is not coming to our office. This money goes to support graduation itself, the actual activities,” she said.

Both undergraduate and graduate programs hold two commencement ceremonies throughout the academic year — one in the spring and fall, and the Salmon P. Chase College of Law hosts one every spring.

To further improve seniors’ preparedness for graduation, the registrar also sends a notice via email and snail mail that lets students know it is almost time to apply, usually at the end of the spring semester. “They get notification well in advance of that October deadline,” Hall said.

Moore said the office also sends students updates if there is a problem concerning their application. For example, if a student turns in an application on time but still needs another class to graduate, the office will immediately notify them so they can take appropriate action to complete the requirements.

If a student does need to make changes to an application, there is no extra fee applied; and once the application is in, students have one year to graduate without penalty.