As a student graduating from the College this May, I am excited to spread my Eagle wings and fly, or at least walk, across the stage and away from four long years of undergraduate education. While applications for graduate schools, jobs and other opportunities evoke stress in many students at this time, the application for graduation should not be another source of angst. Action items for students should be consolidated into one cohesive interface, instead of spread across multiple sources. There would be less room for error if the important process were conducted through a single platform.
If you are graduating this Spring, you hopefully received numerous emails from the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE). According to credit hours, I have been considered a senior by Emory for several semesters and have been receiving these emails for as long, one of the many flaws in OUE’s system to communicate with seniors. Though I had sufficient overall credit hours, I could not graduate according to my incomplete major and general education requirements (GERs) until this semester. Emails regarding upcoming graduation requirements should only be sent to eligible students.
Starting in October, I received links to apply for graduation on OPUS, to complete a “Senior Exit Survey” and to answer a “Student Activities Questionnaire.” I also received a form to be completed with my major adviser, sent to me by my department. So far, these procedures were a little tedious, but not too complicated.
The downfall of OUE’s approach to facilitating graduation is Emory’s failure to utilize technology to its fullest capacity. Each section of the online form requires taking screenshots of emails we receive for confirmation purposes and uploading them to a website. The unnecessary extra steps and lack of cohesion frustrate me, but I also want to focus on the unnecessary stress the application process creates at an already precarious time.
Currently, instructions appear in one document with eight steps, and in another document with five steps. Even after re-reading all of the information I have received, I worry I am missing a component. I can contact an adviser, but if everyone is as confused as I am and fills up OUE administrators’ inboxes, this only demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the original guidelines.
I encourage OUE to restructure the graduation application process to be as straightforward as possible for the mutual benefit of Emory staff and students. I understand if the “Senior Exit Survey” and “Student Activities Questionnaire” are used to collect and evaluate data on individuals. However, the questionnaire is outdated, excluding many chartered organizations, and the exit survey was so long that halfway through, I started filling out “neutral” in every category without reading the question. There is no way I’m the only one who did this, which muddles the reliability of data collected from these two submissions. To get more accurate data, I suggest merging the two into one concise form if possible. Otherwise, updating and shortening each would suffice.
In general, each website involved with the application can and should be set up to communicate internally, meaning when a student completes the OPUS section, the application updates. Better yet, make the entire application available on OPUS. The surveys could be built into the foundation and we would not have to upload screenshots.
The graduation application may seem inconsequential, but as I ask my friends if they have started the eight-part (or is it five-part?) application process, the answer is often “What is that?” They have completed their major and GERs, but have not been able to follow inconsistent communication and expectations from OUE. I worry that some of my friends may be in danger of not graduating.
Until OUE clarifies the procedure, students like me will continue to be uncertain of the requirements to graduate. All being well, my graduation application will be approved by OUE despite this critique and I will be able to swoop out of Emory.
Naomi Keusch Baker (20C) is from New York City.