SF State seniors share struggles in meeting requirements before graduation

Your dream of wearing that elusive SF State purple cap and gown can quickly turn into a nightmare if you’re not careful about completing all the requirements for graduation.

Seniors and super seniors alike are marking the dates for various graduation ceremonies, but with absurd amounts of homework and hurrying to finish up last-minute essays, they may forget to check if they have fulfilled every prerequisite to graduate.

Broadcast and electronic communication arts major Arianna Caramat was on track to graduate spring 2012 until she discovered that she would not be able to pay for summer classes because she maxed out on a loan.

“My first reaction was to cry when they told me I couldn’t receive the financial aid,” Caramat said. “If I’m not able to enroll in the summer then I can’t graduate on time, which puts even more of burden on my mom, who is unemployed.”

Former SF State student Victor Eco suffered a similar problem when he was barely able to graduate last spring after being just three units short of the required 120 units.

“I was in shock when the adviser told me I didn’t meet the requirements to graduate,” Eco said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Eco said he got worried halfway through the spring 2011 semester when he hadn’t received any documents regarding graduation.

He brought it to the attention of the Asian-American Studies chair, Lorraine Dong, who told him he was three units short.

According to Jo Volkert, associate vice president of enrollment management, there are many reasons why students are denied graduation, such as missing units, missing general education requirements or not completing the Online Advancement of Student Information Skills (OASIS) for their basic information competence requirement.

“We strongly encourage students who are getting near graduation to run a Degree Audit Report to see what course or requirements they may be missing,” Volkert said. “We also send email reminders to students who are approaching 120 units to be sure there are not any degree requirements they have overlooked.”

With help from Dong, Eco was able to graduate from SF State in just one more semester.

“Going through that process was a big headache,” Eco said.

“I had to re-enroll in the middle of the semester, pay another $1,800 for tuition and write a letter to the University asking to approve some units. If it wasn’t for (Dong), I wouldn’t have graduated.”

Even though it was rough, he describes the feeling of finally graduating at age 28 after 10 years of school as a huge relief.

Caramat has a long way to go. She is still trying to do everything she can to stay on track to graduate, but her time is running out.

One of her only options is to file a change of income petition to qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, but even then it’s not guaranteed that she will receive the grant.

She has until May 18 to come up with the money to pay for summer school, but worries that her limited work experience will prevent her from being able to find a job in time.

“It’s going to be tough if I have to stay in school even longer because it’s getting so expensive with the tuition hikes,” Caramat said.

“I’m trying hard not to concentrate on that situation because I still have to pass the classes I’m in right now. I’m just taking it day by day.”