By Dennis Calderon, March 21, 2023
COVID-19 took many opportunities away from me, enjoying my last teen years, being able to see my family and friends and two years of my college experience. However, the pandemic also took my ability to graduate in the fall.
When I was applying for the spring 2023 graduation, I was told I had to wait until the spring of 2024 to be able to walk on stage, due to me needing two classes. I was confused about why I couldn’t just walk this spring and take those classes in the fall if I was already going to take them as a requirement for my major. My ideal choice and expectation would be to graduate with the class I came in with back in 2019.
As I talked to the Registrar’s Office, they said there was nothing they could do. I was told Cal Poly Pomona got rid of the option of letting students walk when they only needed three or six units left. When I asked why, I was told that students would walk on stage and not come back to finish their degree, which sounds incredibly idiotic.
It makes me wonder why CPP can’t be bothered to host more than one commencement. It would rather make more money out of students than help them achieve their goal faster. This does not surprise me due to certain controversies going around about the university.
My hard work and motivation were put into four long years only to be forced to wait another year due to CPP’s fall commencement dismissal. Many students like me who expected to graduate this year will have to wait another school year to receive their diplomas.
The reasons for the delay is endless: a student needing one class that is not offered in the summer, high enrollment in upper division level classes or a student not given priority registration. Students must come back for one semester for one or two classes they’re missing, all while having to come back again at the end of May to finally walk on stage.
Although it may not seem like a big deal to some, this is disheartening for me. I won’t be able to celebrate this accomplishment with my graduating class or my friends who are also graduating this year. I now face being away from my family for another full year and missing out on job opportunities — more than I have already missed out on due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 seems to be universities’ go-to answer nowadays. I and other students that I have talked to about this find this incredibly frustrating because our sister university, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, offers more than one commencement for their students. Why don’t we?
Another frustration I face is the fact that there’s that inconvenience of having to come back next year to walk on stage, having the degree already in my hands before I even walk. Getting an out-of-state job during the year would mean I would need to fly back for something that lost its meaning at that point. Financial aid also becomes a problem. In the fall, I have no choice but to take classes I don’t need to be considered a full-time student and receive aid.
CPP was ranked the No. 2 top public school in the West, but how can that be when it is denying students their goal of walking on stage?
The pandemic caused some students to fall behind due to school transitioning online and concerns for their families’ health. CPP needs to consider that it is making it hard for students to meet their goal to graduate. Change needs to happen and it needs to offer early eligibility to walk on stage when these circumstances arise.
Feature image by Lauren Wong
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