Candidates face lengthy process

Buying caps and gowns, ordering invitations, making travel arrangements, attending rehearsals and taking the final final are events that all college seniors look forward to.

Graduation at FAMU occurs three times a year: spring, summer and fall.

However, for some prospective graduates, this moment may not come as soon as planned. Attending school for a certain period of time and accumulating credits does not automatically entitle you to a diploma. For the prospective graduate, there is a process that has to be followed.

Students planning to graduate must first see their adviser for a graduation check. During this time, the adviser performs a thorough audit of the student’s years at FAMU. To graduate, students must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher at the undergraduate level and 3.0 or higher at the graduate level.

Incompletes and grade changes are two reasons why some students have to push their graduation back. All “Incompletes” must be changed by the end of the semester in which you are applying for graduation.

University Registrar Michael A. James said grade changes received from the dean’s offices are usually processed the same day. The problem arises in the department if the information is not processed in a timely fashion.

James Hawkins, interim dean of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, said grade changes usually are processed quickly.

“As soon as the professor submits the grade change, the department chair and dean will forward it to the registrar’s office. I know of no instance in our school that involved a delay in a change of grade resulting in a student being denied graduation,” he said.

According to FAMU’s Web site, a minimum of 120 undergraduate or 30 graduate hours are required to graduate with a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, respectively. However, some academic areas require more than the minimum.

Also, transfer students must show transfer credits on their final FAMU transcript. At least 30 of the credits have to have been earned at FAMU.

If the candidate is found to be in good standing at this stage, he or she can complete the application and return it to his or her adviser. Keep in mind that all graduation applications have a deadline that must be met.

Last but not least, the individual must obtain all signatures and the dean’s office will forward the information to the registrar’s office.

James said the entire graduation process takes an entire semester. Once the registrar receives the information, he or she processes the application, performs a preliminary degree check, decides the appropriate diploma and reviews the transcript.

The registrar’s office then contacts students who are eligible for graduation. The office’s information packet includes advice for students on what to expect and upcoming graduation events.

Cedric Williams, 24, a senior public management student from Tallahassee, plans to graduate this summer. Williams said he had to postpone his graduation because classes in his minor were not offered during the spring and fall semesters.

Since Williams is graduating soon, he suggested some techniques or procedures that underclassmen should follow to secure graduation at the right time.

“Definitely pick a major that offers classes during the summer,” Williams said. “It is extremely important to understand your curriculum and get advised, but don’t get misled.”

Hawkins’ advice to students is “study carefully the requirements for graduation and meet regularly with your adviser.”

James also said students should apply early, follow the correct curricula, establish a relationship with his or her adviser, make sure grade changes are correct, clear all financial holds and read all information regarding graduation.

There are a lot of tasks to complete, but it’s all worth it when you’re part of the number walking across the stage.

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