During last year’s commencement ceremony in May 2011, more than one in every four KSC students who walked across the stage to graduate had not actually completed their coursework, according to the KSC Office of Institutional Research. Sixteen months later, five percent of commencement participants still hadn’t finished their degrees.
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In an attempt to cut these numbers and encourage students to successfully graduate, the college is finalizing a proposal which would require students to be within 16 credits in order to participate in the graduation ceremony.
Although there currently is no policy, Tom Richard, the registrar, said typically students are allowed to participate in graduation if they’re within 20 credits of graduating. This general rule allowed students another semester after graduation to finish remaining requirements.
Although the 20 credit standard was typical, Anne Miller, the associate provost said, having a specific policy calling for students to be within 16 credits to participate will only continue to increase graduation rates.
The policy, which was drafted by the Academic Standards Committee and passed the Senate with a few amended portions, is currently waiting Provost Emile Netzhammer’s approval. Netzhammer was unavailable to comment, but said Miller could provide details on the section he is currently reviewing.
Miller said the biggest concern at the moment is administrative. Proposed language adds that students must be “in good academic standing” with the college, meaning an average of a 2.0 or higher, and that they “be within 16 credits of completing the requirements for the baccalaureate degree(s) at the conclusion of the Spring Semester.” Implementing this policy would require an audit by the Registrar’s office after Intent to Graduate forms are submitted in October.
“The policy as it’s written doesn’t address where that goes,” Richard said. He believes an audit would fall on the Registrar’s office, but that it would provide an extra burden they can’t afford to handle with their current staff. “I have a real workload concern.” In addition to a proposed audit, students who don’t meet those two requirements can appeal in order to participate in the graduation ceremony. Currently, the proposal would have students meet with the associate dean of the program they’re in, however what that appeal process looks like is still undecided.
“The thing that we still need to iron out is an educational plan,” Miller said. “It’s just the management of all those different parts.”
According to Dayna Coleman, who serves on the Academic Standards Sub-Committee on behalf of Student Assembly, said students would also have to prove that they are enrolled in the remainder of the credits required in order to participate in the ceremony. “If you’re registered for classes, then they have a pretty good idea that you’ll continue,” Coleman said.
But Richard and Miller both said that this also poses a problem, as students often finish their final courses commuting to a community college near home.
“The student is also supposed to provide proof of registration,” Richard said, “and that is not feasible from my perspective.”
Ultimately, Miller said some form of the proposal will be approved and students can expect it be implemented next year. “There’s a lot of support for this,” Miller said.
By enforcing a policy and pushing students to finish, they’re more likely to actually complete their final courses and earn their diplomas.
“Students are going to have a higher percentage of actually graduating,” Daly said. “Why would you get so close to graduating then no do it?”
And while Miller said the policy is a step in the right direction, it’s also part of a larger problem of students scheduling poorly early on.
Both Miller and Richard emphasized the importance of students taking initiative and looking ahead when scheduling. Richard pointed to Program Evaluation, which can be found in students’ MyKSC accounts, which will let them know what they’ve already taken and what is still needed.
Allie Bedell can be contacted at email@example.com.