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Fall graduates deserve a commencement ceremony

Palomar students listen to guest speakers during Commencement Ceremony held Saturday May 16 at the San Marcos campus. Philip Farry/The Telescope
Palomar students listen to guest speakers during Commencement Ceremony held Saturday May 16 at the San Marcos campus. Philip Farry/The Telescope

 

Students who finish college in the fall have worked as hard as those fininshing in the spring.

Palomar has only one shcool-wide graduation which is held every May. This is not enough.

Not holding a winter commencement ceremony for fall graduates is unfair and irreverent to students who finish in the fall.

Making them wait until the following Spring undermines the students hard work. They have to wait to share their triumph with friends and family and put their plans and achievements on hold.

But that isn’t a new concept to a community college student who has struggled to receive a degree or transfer to a four-year university.

Because so many of us at Palomar have other responsibilities in life, graduating in the two year time-frame is difficult. Not everyone has the freedom and financial resources to get all their classes completed by the end of a spring semester.

Palomar College has 37 percent first-time, full-time students attending, according to U.S. News Education. And the majority of those students will continue the following year as a full-time student.

That isn’t a high percentage of students who are coming in their first-year with a full-time course load, especially when you look at the graduation rates for Palomar.

Palomar has a 28 percent graduation rate and an 11 percent transfer rate, according to the FAFSA website.

That includes all students even the ones who work two jobs to make ends meet, the ones who have children to take care of, the ones who may learn differently and take extra time to finish their major.

Not having a winter commencement is equivalent to not recognizing the hard work of all these people.

Although Palomar isn’t the only college that doesn’t offer winter commencement and there aren’t many that do. That needs to change so every student has the opportunity to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments with their friends and family.

There are so many amazing professors at Palomar who push and inspire students to follow their passion and fulfill their potential. And once a year in May the students who finish on the two-year timeline get to revel in that moment of walking by everyone who believed in them.

It isn’t simply about receiving a diploma. Walking on stage is a moment of pride for not only your friends and family to take part in, but a moment of pride for all the graduates.

There are some students who are eligible to graduate in the fall but decide to push some or all their classes until the spring so they can walk then. For a college who actively strives for their students to move on and transfer, this seems rather counter-productive.

There is little point in finishing your classes and returning six months latere to participate in the commencement ceremony. The college should acknowledge the inconvenience and disrespect this shows to the fall graduates.

Friends and family want to celebrate. They want to see that student walk across that stage to earn their diploma after all the years of hard work.

For a college to take that away from students is cheating them of a rite of passage, a celebration into the next chapter.

Palomar officials should reconsider having only one ceremony a year and offer another ceremony in the winter as well.

Since Palomar has a new Enrollment Task Force to look at how to draw more students to our campusmaybe they can use the strategy of two graduations per year as a feature advantage.

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