Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Early degree candidacy deadline fast approaching

Early degree candidacy deadline fast approaching

The deadline for applying to complete a degree by December for current juniors is coming up, but there are a few stipulations regarding the actual graduation date.  

Students who complete all necessary credits by December of their senior year cannot officially graduate until May or September, the only two official commencement dates.  

The September commencement date typically is convenient for seniors who need to complete a few extra credits over the summer, because Whitman allows seniors to walk in commencement even with eight credits to go.

“Typically, we have accommodated students, primarily in geology, who have requirements to fulfill over the summer, like a field experience that they have to do over the summer at another school. That’s why we have a September graduation to accommodate those folks,” said Ron Urban, registrar of the college.  

“Over the years, it’s been expanded to include other majors as well, for people who just can’t finish in time. They’ll go to summer school and finish their degree credits and participate in commencement in September. There really is no commencement but it’s just a date that is arbitrarily set as a ritual of transition,” said Urban.  

Commencement is a graduation requirement, according to the college catalog. Even students who finish their credits by December will not officially be considered college graduates. While this could pose a problem for students looking to get a head start in the job market or graduate school applications, the college takes steps to help students.

“It’s scary for them because they’ve finished but they’re not official graduates until May,” said Urban. “But if someone needs proof that they are a college graduate, we will send out a letter to the employer or the graduate school saying that due to special circumstances at Whitman, we don’t actually confer degrees until commencement, but they have completed all the requirements.”

The practice of sending a letter often helps, and getting an early start in difficult economic times never hurts. A potential disadvantage of being a December completer (which is the more correct term, as December graduate isn’t true), is being off-campus for getting faculty recommendations.  

There are only about a dozen or so December completers a year, and the Board of Review can be petitioned to waive the requirement that one must attend commencement in order to graduate.  

Another interesting option for seniors who want to take a lighter load during their second semester is the pay-per-credit option. With more first-years bringing in more transfer credits from Running Start, AP or IB, they can afford to take a lighter load in the spring.

“They have all the rights and responsibilities of regular students but if they take fewer than 12 credits, they can save money,” said Urban. “The Dean of Students authorizes this, and students have to provide a compelling case.”

“Especially in these dire economic times, this policy may challenge the economic integrity of the school and might be changed,” said Urban.  

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