So you’re approaching the completion of your requirements for your baccalaureate degree at the local university and are looking forward to starting your chosen career as soon as you finish your studies, right?
Not so fast. This is college-level, work, not high school. Unlike high school, colleges require that you file for graduation in advance of your commencement so that they may check your transcript against degree requirements for your curriculum. This is, in fact, a part of what makes it possible for colleges and universities to account for both full and part-time students in attendance at the institution. The other is that your grades and earned credits must be verified. For these reasons, you have to notify your school as soon as required before your commencement.
Nowadays, however, many schools conveniently let you do so entirely online. In fact, in many cases your school may require electronic filing to cut down on paperwork – and also to make the process easier to complete. You can even do so from home in cases where the online application is available off campus over the Internet. But first, be sure you know how to complete the application. It’s more effective to provide all the required information – and when that information is due – to ensure a smooth commencement upon completion of your studies.
Here, then is everything you need to know.
1. Notify the government of your plans
In all cases where you’re graduating, you must notify the feds that you’re graduating so that your financial aid can be suspended properly. Moreover, this is especially true if you have taken out any loans to pay your tuition – in which case you must generally complete a loan exit counseling session prior to graduation. Thankfully, this can also conveniently be completed online – just point your web browser to http://www.dl.ed.gov/, choose the applicable options and follow the instructions.
2. Open your institutions website and navigate to the online student services applet.
From here on out, we will look at a typical electronic Internet-based graduation application from a case-study viewpoint. For our purposes, the applet backbone for this example will be Datatel WebAdvisor (http://www.datatel.com/). WebAdvisor is an electronic student services tool used by colleges and universities all across the nation. If your college or university offers a different applet backbone for their online student services website, the procedures may be similar to what is described here – but don’t hesitate to contact your school for assistance if you still get stuck. (Note that in some cases, your school may provide an online help file for their online graduation application and any other important online tools they provide, so check these if you can before requesting assistance.)
With that out of the way, navigate to your institution’s website. It’s usually located at http://www. .edu/ where is the domain name used by your school’s website – if you don’t know what it is, just ask; or you can use Google (http://www.google.com/) or a similar public web applet to find the correct URL off the institution’s name if you get stuck. (Usually, if filing while on campus, the school’s network may direct you to the correct URL as a default home page link on any public terminal as a student convenience.) From there, if you’re not automatically at the student services applet, just click My Services, Student Services, Online Student Services or anything similar. If that takes you to a generic page of all services provided by your school (e.g. e-mail, registration, etc.) simply click whatever link gets you into the students portion of WebAdvisor.
3. Read and accept any agreements displayed
If your institution requires you to accept any agreements (e.g. conditions of access, terms of service, limitations on access, etc.) read them carefully (this may already be second nature by now if you’re this close to graduation) and choose the Accept, Agree or similar option displayed at the bottom of the agreement to enter the student section of WebAdvisor.
4. Log in to the system
You should already know this by now, but if you’ve never used the WebAdvisor applet and only need access for the graduation application you should obtain initial login information from your school (e.g. user-name, initial password, etc.) Once you have this information, click the Log In button (usually at the top of the WebAdvisor menu) and enter this information, changing your password during initial login if needed. (Links for password reset procedures should be provided if you already have a permanent password, but have forgotten what it was you chose.) You can also jump right to the application form link to log in before the form opens, if you’re in a hurry. To jump right in, or it you have already logged in and are ready to complete the application, click the link labeled Application for graduation and log in if you haven’t already done so.
5. Choose an eligible program of study to file under
At this point, you should see which active degree programs you are eligible to apply from. You can choose only one, so if you want to graduate from multiple programs at once (in the case of a double major) you will have to come back for the rest. For now, choose whichever program you wish to apply to graduate from first (if only one is displayed your choice is pretty obvious) by clicking its check box and click Submit.
6. Customize your diploma and provide shipping information
Now, just as if you were ordering a customized product over the Internet, you must provide customization details for your diploma – as well as where you want it shipped to. This is similar to visiting an online store such as Amazon.com, so if you’ve ever shopped online you should have a general idea of how to proceed. In this case, you must provide your name exactly as you want it on your diploma, note your anticipated graduation term (summer, spring or fall), your shipping address (including unit, street, city, state and zip code), your commencement site and date, your program completion date and your e-mail address (for notification purposes).
7. Log out of WebAdvisor
You’re done! Congratulations. Now you can log out of the WebAdvisor system by clicking the Log Out button in the top portion of the applet. All that’s left to do is pass your final classes, get measured for cap and gown (if attending the ceremony) and wait for your award. You deserved it.