Months before the tassels are moved, the air is sprinkled with graduation cap confetti and college green is showered in champagne comes the first step toward the walk at graduation: the application. Monday was the last day to apply for fall graduation at Ohio University without a late fee, and it marks one of the first things on the daunting graduation to-do list. The application process is simple, but it can be intimidating.
“No one in my family has gone to college, so we never really talk about graduation,” Ellie Coldiron, a communication studies student graduating in December, said. “I was worried about what (the graduation process) would be like, but it was really easy.”
The application is a qualtrics form that lets advisors know that the student is eligible to graduate, Jenna Lehr, a success advisor for the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism, said. Once the application is sent in, colleges will confirm the information that students provided in the form: college, degree, majors, minors and certificates, according to OU’s Registrar.
“We get that list, and it's a good way to know these students in this college are eligible to graduate,” Lehr said.
Before students receive their diplomas, advisors must confirm or deny the degree after looking at each student’s degree audit reporting system, or DARS, to make sure they received all the credits necessary. The DARS plans out the requirements for each degree that every individual student needs to fulfill, according to OU’s website. This will not happen until after the grades are posted for their final semester, Lehr said.
“We'll get a list to either confirm or deny the degree,” Lehr said. “We go through that in our office and we pull up the DARS and look and see.”
Fulfilling all of the requirements to graduate is intimidating for students. Both Coldiron and Lehr said students should check the DARS frequently and meet with their advisors about classes to take to meet each requirement and ensure they are on track to graduate.
“I was really big on checking my DARS all the time,” Coldiron said. “If you do have any questions, email an advisor, even if it's not your advisor.”
Coldiron has already completed her graduation application and has met with her advisor to verify that she has met all of the requirements, so she is set to graduate in the fall. Graduation will occur on Dec. 10, according to OU’s Registrar.
Erin Luby, a senior studying child and family studies, is planning to graduate in the spring, but she is already preparing for graduation and life after.
“Currently I am looking for an internship that I will take for my placement in the spring, and I'm trying to find a place where I know I'll like it, so hopefully I can stay post-grad,” Luby said.
The graduation application for spring graduation is not due until February, but it is still beneficial to meet with your advisor to ensure the necessary credits are met.
“The grad checks (meetings with your advisor) are so important,” Lehr said. “Looking at your own DARS is really important.”
For underclassmen, meeting with advisors to create a graduation plan and frequently checking their DARS can keep students on track to graduate.
Advisors can also help with plans for life after graduation, another daunting part of graduating.
“I think the most intimidating thing is the fear of not knowing how things are going to actually play out,” Luby said. “Sometimes it's expected that you do certain things at a certain pace, and sometimes things won't go as planned after postgrads.”
But, a meeting with an advisor can help relieve the stress of finding a job or an internship.
“We are providing information for (their) career,” Lehr said. “We try to help set students up for success.”
The deadline to apply for fall graduation was Monday; however, students can still apply with a $100 late fee, in addition to the $50 application fee, by calling OU’s Registrar’s Office at 740-593-4196.
“As someone who likes to rush through things, this is a time where you're supposed to just have fun,” Luby said. “You're going to work for the rest of your life, but you only have college for so long. As someone who's close to graduating, I'm not really too happy about it – I wish I could stay another year. Find a job that's going to make you happy and find a place where you're going to be able to start that new chapter, be successful and be happy.”