Photo provided by Tiffany Coleman
Class of 2019 UCC graduates gather for a group photo on the lawn in front of Swanson Ampitheatre.

The path to graduation and transferring to a four-year university

College students come across many questions over the course of their education, and one of them is how to graduate. After spending countless hours on the homework, classes, and the other work necessary to get them through their degree, this last challenge can be overlooked.

In its simplest form, the path to graduation is the completion of all the credits for a student’s degree program. For an Associate’s of Arts Oregon Transfer degree, that means earning a minimum of 90 credits distributed over the foundational requirements of writing, math, health, and oral communications, as well as meeting the conditions for arts and letters, science, cultural literacy, social science and electives. This might look different depending on the certificate or degree program a student is enrolled in, however.

“My number one tip is to make an appointment with an advisor,” said Dan Ruch, an academic advisor in the Laverne-Murphy Student Center. Advisors can help students navigate the often-confusing terrain of course registration, as well as help decide majors and aid in transferring to a four-year university.

It is also important to plan ahead. “You should apply to graduate the term before you complete your degree,” said Jasen Lynch, an academic advisor. That gives time for the evaluation process, which takes two to four weeks to complete. For students graduating in June, that means applying during winter term.

To apply to graduate, students can log into their self-service Banner account, select the “student” tab, “student records,” and then “apply to graduate.” Applications can also be submitted in-person by filling out a paper form at the Registration and Records office in the student center. Either way, a fee of $50.00 will be required at the time of application.

After applying, an initial email will be sent to the student’s 800-number email address that will state that the requirements for graduation have not been met. When the current term is completed the grading process begins, and the final evaluation will be sent to the same email, which will let the student know whether or not they have met the requirements for graduation. If they have been met, it will be noted on their transcript.

It is also possible for a student to walk in the commencement ceremony and not complete the credits for their degree until the following fall, since not every student will finish their program in exactly two years. Because of this, all students who apply to graduate will be invited to walk, and a detailed packet containing information about the ceremony will be mailed to them in May. Students who wish to participate in the June 12 commencement ceremony must return their participation reply cards by May 8.

Graduating students will be able to pick up their caps and gowns in the Hawk Shop, and those who have an accumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher at the end of winter term are eligible to wear an honor stole distributed through the Office of Registration and Records.

During the ceremony students will be presented with a cover for their diploma, after which the diploma itself will be mailed to students within six weeks after the end of the term.

For some students, completing a two-year degree program or certificate may be all that they need for their future career. Others may need to transfer to a four-year university. Ideally, transfer students should have selected their transfer school and applied for admissions a year ahead of the date they plan to graduate from their current one.

Some things to take into consideration when selecting a transfer school are cost, location, whether they offer online or on-campus degrees and scholarship availability. While it is true that UCC transfer students need not complete the entirety of their degree program at UCC before transferring, seeing it through to the end looks good on a resume. “It shows that stick-to-it-ivness that universities are looking for,” Ruch said.

Once a transfer school has been selected, the next step is to apply for admissions and fill out the FAFSA form, being sure to insert the code of the transfer school in the FAFSA application. It is also important to apply for scholarships at the transfer school. Many of them have scholarships based on need, interests, major or location. If a student applies to multiple schools, they may not receive financial aid from more than one school at once unless they have a consortium agreement.

After a student is admitted, the change must be coordinated between the advisor at their current school and the advisor at the four-year college they are transferring to, as well as each financial aid office.

Regardless of whether someone is transferring or not, graduating is an important milestone in any student’s life. “It’s something to take pride in,” Ruch said.

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