Written by Mikaela Santini
The university recently implemented a specialized advising program for SU seniors, the Graduation Audit Program. It was designed by Paige Bonner, the Associate Registrar.
In describing the program, Bonner says, “We wanted to make sure that students are aware of all of their remaining degree requirements so that they may plan their senior year accordingly and take any additional steps necessary to graduate in their intended semester.”
In the program, seniors meet individually with Bonner and collaborate about their degree plan.
Together they look at the remaining courses and put them in a list format.
“It makes it easier to look at and tells [the seniors] exactly what they need to do to finish their degree,” Bonner said.
Typically, students will have an audit meeting at the Office of the Registrar a year before they plan to finish.
This fall, however, Bonner will meet with all students graduating in 2009, the spring, summer and fall.
Starting in the 2009 spring semester, she will begin meeting with seniors expecting to graduate a year from their meeting.
Those expecting to graduate in the spring or summer will have Graduation Audit the preceding spring . Those graduating in the fall will have their audit the preceding fall.
The program will be especially helpful for students who change majors or minors late in the process.
Meeting with the Office of the Registrar in person helps the administration as well as the students prepare a concise degree plan in appropriate time.
“It’s not always clear when a student substitutes majors or minors,” Bonner said. “Sometimes they switch, and we are not informed. Meeting face-to-face gives us a change to be sure of these changes and explain directly to the student what is left.”
“Students are especially unaware of electives that we can easily let them know of,” Bonner said.
Although the Office of the Registrar gives special counseling, the seniors will continue to meet with their own advisors and work with department heads in completing their degree plan.
Bonner is hopeful that the program will hinder senior panic and stress concerning uncertainty about meeting requirements.
Knowing the remaining requirements should give students a sense of relief and confidence.
“It’s the whole knowledge is power thing,” Bonner said. “[Before the program] I met with students all the time just to talk and I see so much relief when we create an exact plan. I wanted to give everybody that same peace of mind.”
Bonner met with the first round of Graduation Audit seniors this week and said that student response towards the program has been very positive.
“I have been thanked numerous times this week by the students for putting this together,” she said. “I’m telling them exactly what’s left and having that information in a very simple form is comforting to them.”
Student response out of the Office of the Registrar has been equally positive.
Students of all years are excited about the prospect of solidifying their degree plans and being able to graduate when they want to.
Michelle Haberl, a junior Studio Arts major, warmed up to the program quickly. Although she has never doubted that she would be able to finish in four years, she would gladly accept help to make sure all the loose ends are tied when its time to don cap and gown.
“I think it will be a useful program,” Haberl said. “I would definitely utilize it.”
She thinks it will be very helpful to ensure that she will have enough upper level courses at the end of four years.
“You have to take initiative to make sure you have enough credits,” Haberl said. “It would be helpful to have a program to help iron all that out.”
The program may not be applicable to all majors, however.
Amanda Morris is a senior majoring in Education. She says that the program is a great idea but will not help her. In education, the university and department decide students’ classes based on the State of Texas and SU requirements.
Morris says that it is impossible for education majors to complete their degree in four years, which she laments.
“I would only want to be at Southwestern four years,” Morris said.
Because the amount of hours taken is unimportant, special advising senior year would be irrelevant. However she recommends the system for students in other majors who could potentially finish with special advising.
Austin Cornett, a first-year, also agrees that the Gradation Audit could be very helpful.
After thinking about the program Cornett said, “You know what would suck? If you got through your senior year and realized you had to come back because you missed a class. Like, if you missed an FRA.”
Ironically, Bonner says this incident is possible.
“Someone from my graduating class back when I graduated from Southwestern didn’t get to walk because he missed an FRA,” Bonner said. “It definitely happens. This program is to prevent this thing from happening. I want to give students the information they need to help them graduate when they want to.”