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Seniors face problems with degree approvals

Director of Enrollment Services and University Registrar Mary Ellen Farrell and her staff have a list of over 100 seniors they are currently contacting because of problems with their degree candidacy evaluation.

Some of the students had minor problems, like forgetting to file a curriculum adjustment form when they substituted a course or problems with transfer credits.

"We had a student just today who came in because she had some transfer credits, but she had never had her old school send us the transcript," Farrell said.

Most of these problems are an easy fix, Farrell said, and most seniors, once notified of the problem, are able to get everything figured out quickly in order to graduate and walk at graduation on time.

Other situations pose bigger problems, as in the case of a student who will not have a high enough GPA or enough credits to graduate by the time they hope to.

In order to graduate and receive a degree from Seton Hall, a student must file an application for degree by Dec. 10 of the year preceeding when a student intends to graduate.

For instance, if a student plans to graduate in May 2010, they had to have filed their application for degree by Dec. 10, 2009.

The registrar then reviews the application, the student's course audit and if the student has completed all the necessary requirements of graduation, he or she will be approved.

For some students, though, things are not simple.

Senior Xanthy Karamanos, an elementary special education and public relations double major, said she had trouble trying to declare a second major in public relations.

"I declared PR in the summer of 2008 before I studied abroad but it wasn't changed on my blackboard account until Spring 2010," Karamanos said. "I had filed the paperwork to declare my second major a couple times but my paperwork always somehow got lost."

Karamanos said she kept copies of the paperwork and kept re-filing.
When this did not work, she went to Declare Your Major Day this year, and the paperwork finally went through and her public relations major showed up on her blackboard degree audit page.

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Karamanos will not graduate in May, but not because of any issues with her paperwork. Instead she needs to complete her student teaching in the fall and will graduate after.

"Instead of focusing on freshman and working on freshman paperwork they should focus on the graduating seniors to get them out of here," Karamanos said. "If Bayley Hall was more helpful, there would be a lot less graduation problems."

Farrell suggests frequently monitoring your degree audit on blackboard to make sure everything is in order.

"If it says ‘congratulations' on the banner, you know you're in good shape," Farrell said.

Karen Passaro, associate dean for academic services for the Stillman School of Business, sometimes deals with problems senior business students have when they're planning to graduate. Though she finds that most students have no problem, she believes that students encounter the most difficulties when they don't pay attention to their course catalogs or visit their advisor frequently enough.

"There shouldn't be any surprises," Passaro said, "as long as you stay on top of things and follow-up on things like transfer credits and course changes, then everything should be expected."

Passaro said the business school offers students color-coded handouts that specify the courses each student has to take, with rooms for electives, as well as the list of advisors and the Stillman standards.

Both Passaro and Farrell said they agree students tend to not read their school e-mail enough.

"I can see it when they come in here, they're overwhelmed by the amount of e-mail they get," Passaro said. "But when you receive an e-mail from the reg-istrar or a Dean or your advisor, you should read it."
Farrell said this was one of the biggest problems she faced in communicating with students.

"We e-mail students so they can easily see what the problem is and quickly follow-up," Farrell said.

Senior Danielle Felter did not have a paperwork error or discrepancy, however she will not graduate in May due to problems registering for classes.

"I just declared my major in Public Relations (and) Journalism last semester. I was not planning on graduating in May, however in order to ensure I would be done by December, I needed to make sure I got into certain classes this semester so I could plan for December," Felter said.
She was unable to register for certain classes she needed, though, because she didn't get into some of the classes she had planned to take.

"Out of the 12 choices I could choose from many of them were not offered this semester, which is ridiculous," Felter said. "I feel bad for other students like me because you are completely powerless in this kind of situation, the teachers/administration have the final say."

Despite the fact some students have problems, both Farrell and Passaro said most students breeze through the process easily.

Farrell said that students should always pay attention to the amount of credits they have, as well as their GPA, (some programs have higher GPA requirements than the university-required 2.0.)

Farrell also recommended that students be aware of any other degree requirements, such as the submission of a portfolio for English majors and tests for certain majors like nursing.

According to Farrell, the registrar will be implementing an online application for degree in the fall of 2010 so that the class of 2011 can apply for their degree online, which Farrell said should make the process easier.

Caitlin Carroll can be reached at


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