Hi! You may recognize me from such popular series as #SACommits, or #SAFirstJobs, among others. As the Graduation Coordinator in the Registrar’s Office at UMass Boston, I manage all aspects of graduation (note, I did not say Commencement!) for Undergraduate and Graduate students. I report to one of the Associate Registrars, and have a team of three who help ensure the accuracy of student records, including degree audits, notes, transfer and test credits, and degree posting.
My day can look pretty boring to the “typical” Student Services professional. Much of the year is spent ensuring the degree audit and transcript are accurate–correcting course codes and posting post-matriculation transfer credits or CLEP exams–and meeting with students to discuss their graduation requirements. Yes, I actually do quite a bit of advising in this role. My focus is ensuring students meet ALL the requirements for graduation: general university, major/minor, and financial/administrative. I don’t have an appointment calendar, but rather meet with students at their request to double-check records and advise them on general graduation requirements.
Graduation is a different matter altogether though. In May/June, August/September and December/January, the gloves come off and I’m in full-on busy mode, doing final checks on records, reviewing late requests to file for the upcoming graduation date, processing approvals for students to take transfer courses in the upcoming semester, and of course, awarding degrees/honors and ordering diplomas. This is not only my busiest time, it’s also critically important that my team is spot-on with accuracy, so I’m regularly checking in to make sure we are all concentrating more on our data entry than speed.
I’m about halfway done with my second year in this position, so I’ve begun working on making improvements to the process and analyzing data. Our main project each semester is Graduation Quick Checks to help ensure students applying to graduate CAN graduate. This reduces the number of denials processed and allows students to enroll in their outstanding courses before they are full. Quick Checks were created just before I started this role, so we are still evaluating its effectiveness, and making improvements. We constantly assess how we contact and interact with students, interact with departments and advisors, and our internal processes. There has been an attitude of “we’ve always done it this way” across the university, so change can be slow, but it’s desired and necessary–improvements can be made to almost everything.
I’ve worked in Registration for almost 4 years, since completing my MS, and I’m always surprised just how much of my Student Affairs education has benefited me. When I have a student sitting at my desk crying because she didn’t know that she was short 3 credits to graduate, I can reflect back on my GA in Student Success and recall my training in having difficult conversations. I can turn to my network to find ideas for event planning, or how to better reach out to students who are burnt out from excessive university emails. My class on assessment is very handy as I begin to analyze data about graduation.
It’s hard to put my job into a reasonably-sized blog post, but I do hope I’ve done it justice and given a good overview of my day. It may not seem glamorous, but I get to leave at 5 pm every night, and don’t have to check my email on weekends. Most importantly, it allows my shy, introverted self to make an impact on student experience without draining all my energy, and puts my organizational skills to work.
This post is part of our #dayinSA series on highlighting the diversity of functional areas in the field of student affairs. We will hear from #SApros of all kinds – academic advisors, office mangagers, res hall directors, vice provosts of SA, and many many more. Each will share exactly what their typical day looks like, what exactly they work on, and what makes them want to come to work each day. We hope to squash stereotypes within the field and celebrate all the different kinds of great work that #SApros do. For more information, check out the intro post by Sara Ackerson. Be sure to read the other posts in this series too!