This June, at least one senior will not graduate due to a misunderstanding of general education requirements. According to Registrar Anne Norman, while such student errors occur every year, what is unusual about this particular case is that the student believed an environmental studies course counted as a lab requirement, which it did not. However, “There are always seniors who miss graduation by one course, two courses,” Norman said.One of the major reasons some seniors do not graduate on time, according to Norman, is procrastination, “They get themselves in a bind, and they get themselves caught because they can’t fulfill the general education requirements,” Norman said. In order to prevent confusion, Norman advises that all students keep a paper copy of their course catalogue – which lists the requirements for their degree – on-hand. Also, she recommends that students fulfill their general education requirements sooner, rather than later, so as to minimize the risk of not graduating because of one or two missed courses.
Some mistakes, however, are simple errors on the part of the staff at the Registrar’s Office, or glitches in the computer system. For this reason, the Registrar’s Office sends out degree audits to all students every term, so that students can review their progress towards their degrees and verify the accuracy of the registrar’s records. A copy of every student’s degree summary can also be found on Voyager, through the Lawrence website. “If the degree summary doesn’t show what you believe it should be showing, come over here, and don’t just wait,” Norman said, adding “Ignoring the fact that something’s not right is probably the worst thing somebody could do.”
Seniors receive a special audit during spring break, with a note from the registrar. Those who fail the audit are asked to make an appointment with Norman to discuss their situation. According to Norman, some students have “fixable” problems, while others do not. At this point, Norman, Student Academic Services, and advisors “work with the students individually to fix problems,” said Norman, “We see what we can do to assist them, to get them through.”
While the registrar cannot dishonor the wait-list system in order to push through seniors who need to meet a last-minute requirement, sometimes, if they are high enough on the wait-list, these seniors can take the class. Other possible options are asking a professor for permission to enroll in a class that is already full or working on the requirement as a tutorial. Before third term, however, Norman advises that seniors meet regularly with their advisors or, if they anticipate any problems, with Student Academic Services as well.
While Norman estimates that “a handful to a dozen” seniors do not graduate each year because of missing general education requirements, she never knows the final count until midnight the Friday before Commencement. Beginning Thursday night at 8:00, the Registrar’s Office does the final tabulation of every senior’s general education, major, minor, and interdisciplinary area requirements. It is not until midnight that Norman calls those seniors who did not meet all of their requirements and officially announces that they will be unable to graduate. In this case, Norman is only the proverbial “messenger.” It is the faculty who ultimately review the Registrar’s list and vote to confer degrees, with each individual department verifying that their students have met major, minor, and interdisciplinary requirements. The “bottom line is that you need one major and your gen. eds. to graduate,” Norman said, “We would like to see everybody cross the stage if they possibly can.