Eventually, it happens to all of us. One day you wake up to find a mysterious and unexpected email in your inbox. “You have met the minimum requirements to apply for graduation.” What? I haven’t thought about next semester’s classes, let alone graduating. Am I even on track? What am I supposed to do?
First of all, pat yourself on the back. If you play your cards right, you can probably walk across the stage in a cap and gown in a year. But why do I have to apply for graduation? And why so early? After all, it’s just a ceremony and a piece of paper. What’s the big deal? Well, as you’ve probably figured out by now, earning a university degree is a big deal.
The graduation process is just that, a process. In order for you to get your degree, a lot of things need to happen. You will need to apply for graduation, and your major department has to review your TDA to make sure it shows the correct major classes and approve your grad check. The grad fee needs to be paid, and all of the degree requirements have to be met. The Graduation Unit in Admissions and Records will review your TDA to determine degree completion. With several thousands of degrees being awarded each year, that process takes time; that process begins with applying for graduation.
Applying for graduation a year in advance is very beneficial. You’ve heard the horror stories. A student thinks he’s graduating, but makes one tiny mistake, and bam. No degree. Applying in advance will give your major department time to review your TDA, and give you the time to receive the necessary advising to ensure that you graduate when you want to.
So, you’re eligible to apply for graduation. What’s the next step? First, determine your final semester and apply for graduation through your Student Center. If you’re not sure which semester to pick, talk to an advisor first. Next, pay your graduation fee ($115) at Student Financial Services (UH-180). It’s a one-time fee, so don’t be afraid to pay it early. Plus, paying the grad fee is necessary to become a Candidate for graduation (along with your major grad check advisor reviewing/approving your TDA), and there are many benefits to becoming a final Candidate: you will be able to register earlier for your final semester, get tickets to your assigned commencement ceremony, and get on the radar of the Graduation Unit so your TDA can be reviewed in advance. After that, get advising and review your TDA regularly. Seek general education and major advising to ensure that no degree requirements are forgotten. Lastly, enjoy your final semesters and complete all of your classes. CSUF wants you to help you graduate, so begin the graduation process as soon as possible, and seek the resources provided to help you move from student to proud alumnus.
Are you a new transfer student and a little bit lost? Don’t worry! You’re not the only one. Transferring from the community college system can be very complicated and students often feel like they’re drowning in information. As a peer advisor in the College of Communications Advisement Center and a transfer student myself, I have come up with a list of the most common misunderstandings that many transfer students have.
- “I thought I was done with GE?” The absolute most common thing I come across is that transfer students don’t know they need to take 9 units of upper division GE at CSUF. If students don’t seek advisement, they may not find this out for their first couple of semesters at CSUF. The good news is that for COMM and RTVF majors, the required collateral courses may be able to double count for upper division GE courses! Consult an advisor for more information.
- “What is a TDA?” As a new transfer student, your Titan Degree Audit (TDA) will be a preliminary evaluation of your transfer coursework. The TDA is the compilation of all units completed, in progress, and requirements needed for graduation. It includes a section for your General Education requirements as well as your major requirements. Students should check their TDAs at least once every semester to make sure they are on track. TDAs are absolutely necessary when seeking advisement as well! If you are having trouble understanding your TDA, make sure to seek clarification. Here is a Flash-based tutorial that explains how to access your TDA.
- “Not all of my classes are showing up on my TDA!” Make sure to send your most recent community college transcripts as soon as possible after completion of all transfer classes. It may take some time for admissions to process your transcripts. The sooner you send them in, the sooner your TDA will be updated. On the front of your TDA, you will see the “Final Evaluation Status” message change to “Complete” when the Admissions and Records office finalizes the final evaluation of your records. Transcripts may also affect registration for classes, so don’t forget about sending them in!
- “Who do I talk to?!” Finally, there are at least two different places for students to receive undergraduate advisement for their degrees. The Academic Advisement Center in UH-123 provides advising for General Education and undergraduate policies. For major advising in the College of Communications, full-time faculty can provide advisement, as well as the College of Communications Advisement Center in CP 425.
Hopefully, you are now feeling a little more at ease! As a transfer student, I know I had some of these questions. My last piece of advice is to never shy away from asking questions. It’s not fun to ask questions when everyone else seems to know what’s going on. However, part of the college experience is learning how to navigate the system. Keep asking questions until you feel comfortable with where you’re going. I hope this helps!