EDITORIAL: Exit strategy: Students should take the lead in graduation planning

Editorial cartoon 2.15.11

Herald staff

The issue: Too often, students spend more time here after years of taking the wrong classes.

Our stance: Students should learn to use iCAP to keep track of their course requirements.

Unfortunately, it happens all the time. A student will have expectations of graduating at the end of a semester; then, upon meeting with their adviser or receiving an e-mail from the registrar’s office, they find out they’re a few classes short of fulfilling their requirements, which prolongs their graduation.

Notifications from the registrar’s office are sent to students during the semester of their expected graduation. Otherwise, they are sent from the student’s dean’s office. But students shouldn’t count on those e-mails, because they might be too late if you have another class you need to take.

Though each student is assigned an adviser, keep in mind that they have dozens of other students to advise, on top of teaching classes, so they cannot always provide the most immediate attention.

Therefore, it’s up to you as a student to be proactive and keep track of your major and minor requirements. Build a good relationship with your advisers, but don’t expect them to do all of your graduation planning for you. Always reach out to them when you need help, remembering to direct questions to the right person; each student has a major and minor adviser.

The Herald encourages you to take responsibility for your own course track. With the Interactive Curriculum and Academic Progress program, or iCAP, students have access to a list of their completed and outstanding credits.

Available on TopNet, iCAP is an audit system that allows you to view all requirements needed for your major and minor, courses you’ve completed and courses you still need to take.

WKU Registrar Frieda Eggleton said iCAP was established to ensure students have easy access to their full academic progress reports.

She recommends using an iCAP audit at least twice a semester, especially as a student nears graduation.

Utilizing iCAP could mean the difference between pomp and circumstance.

Of course, you shouldn’t rush your time in college. After all, most of what you take with you is learned outside of the classroom.

But since education is not cheap and many scholarships are only renewable for up to four years, it is important to streamline your schedule to avoid taking out unnecessary loans. Another semester or year of tuition, books, living, and other expenses can be a struggle if unplanned.

It’s also important to note that academic catalogues can change from year to year, so certain standards from each year may or may not apply to you when they change.

Additionally, your credit hours, not the number of years you have been here, determine your classification. For instance, taking classes for two years doesn’t make you a sophomore, but earning 30 hours of credits does.

So, remember to rely on official documentation and definitions from the registrar’s office, not just your adviser’s word, in graduation planning.

Register on time, keeping in mind that some classes are only offered in either the spring or fall semester. Use the services available to you, such as the course catalog, four-year track sheets offered through your major department and iCAP.

This way, you won’t run into any surprises on your way to commencement.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.