Graduation Checklist

College graduation; a phrase that means an end to the years of studying and attending classes, and the beginning of a career in the wider world. But what should college seniors be doing leading up to this date?

This article should provide a checklist for what graduates should be doing before their time is up at Missouri State University.

First off, the difference between graduation and commencement should be noted. Associate Registrar of Operations Rebecca Harbaugh highlighted the difference between the two events. Graduation is the actual act of getting a diploma, while commencement is just a celebration for the graduates.

“Commencement is the ceremony,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no degrees awarded that day, no diplomas delivered. The anticipation of that is coming, but everybody is eligible to participate in commencement if they’ve applied to graduate and we’ve had an opportunity to review and accept that application or have it pending.”

Harbaugh mentioned the stress students may have over graduation versus commencement. She said final grades do not go in the gradebook until after the commencement ceremony, but a student is free to attend commencement as long as they have submitted a graduation application.

To graduate, a few boxes need to be checked. The MSU website provides students with a printable checklist and information on what they should be doing in their final term.

First off is checking one’s degree audit. General education courses and special courses for a major must be completed by the end of one’s graduating semester.

Next, one needs to actually apply to graduate. After logging onto the MSU website, one needs to click the Student tab. Then, under the My Graduation Path tab click the "Graduation Application and Status Review" link. The deadline for spring graduation was March 31, while the fall deadline is Oct. 31.

Harbaugh said summer graduates are not overlooked despite not having summer commencement dates. Graduates just need to pick either the spring before or the fall after their graduation for a commencement to attend.

“Our summer group is left without a commencement ceremony, but they are still being awarded with their degree,” Harbaugh said. “So we want to make sure those students in particular understand they would need to apply to graduate either with the spring group or with the fall group depending on which ceremony they would want to participate in.”

Third, one should keep up with their advising notes. Harbaugh pointed out that the graduation application would show its completion process under those notes. Students should be monitoring those closely to see what comes next.

Moon Knight, Office of the Registrar coordinator, said attending the Senior Symposium hosted by the Office of Student Financial Aid is a key event for graduates. She summarized the event as one that “explains how you can manage your loan after you graduate.” The last session was held April 25.

Finally, when all steps have been completed, the only event left to plan for is commencement. Harbaugh said that students should only bring their gowns with them to the commencement, as students won’t have a place to store extra belongings at John Q. Hammons Arena. Students should also carry their gowns in rather than wear them due to security purposes, Harbaugh said.