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The trouble with graduation

With the end of the semester coming up, students are hurrying to complete all of their projects and papers. Some candidates for winter commencement have an added layer of stress: waiting to get confirmation that they will actually be graduating.

While most of the graduating student body has gradually been getting email confirmation of their approved graduation application, some students have yet to receive word as to whether or not they will be walking across the stage in the Retriever Activities Center in less than a month’s time.

I am a (hopefully) graduating senior who needs clearance from the media and communication studies, theatre, and English departments. I live in Walker Avenue Apartments, and I keep getting emails about filling out a petition for cancellation.

Walker Avenue Apartments requires that students graduating in December complete a petition for cancellation by Dec. 1, otherwise they could be on the hook for the spring semester’s rent. Residents wishing to fill out this petition must also attach supporting documentation which, unfortunately, some people still haven’t gotten.

 I visited one of my program’s offices, where a helpful staff member informed me that some departments have switched to filling out electronic forms while some departments remain on a paper filing system for graduation applications.

Although students who submitted petitions for graduation can currently check their graduation status online through myUMBC, the status is extremely vague. Applications that have not been approved or denied are simply listed as “under review.” I have no way of knowing which departments haven’t cleared me other than visiting each of them.

I’ll be the first to admit that I could be doing more to determine the status of my graduation application. I’ve only visited the one office, and I’ve buried my head in the sand instead of responding to WAA’s emails (sorry Aunchay!), but should getting approved for graduation really be this difficult? Wasn’t doing schoolwork supposed to be the hard part?

For students like me who are waiting on clearance from three different departments, a uniform, all-electronic filing system where students can be kept abreast of their graduation application’s status would be invaluable. Even something as small as a date by which students should hear back about their applicationpreferably before housing needs to knowwould be an improvement.

I’d hope for the sake of others that I’m the only one having this problem, but I don’t think I am. I know of other students who had been waiting to hear back about their application until just last week, and who were just as panicked as me.

It seems like UMBC is trying to bring its graduation application process into the digital age, which is admirable. However, unless the process is made uniform and student-friendly, students like me will fall through the cracks.