On Oct. 30 the university announced their decision to remove the August commencement ceremony from the calendar.
USC spokesman Wes Hickman explained some of the reasons behind the choice to “experiment with a new commencement calendar in 2016.”
“This change has been under consideration for the last three years,” Hickman said. “A great deal of research and conversation has taken place as we assessed the best way to provide the superior experience students expect. It is also in line with the practices at many SEC and other peer institutions around the country.”
According to Hickman, participation rates at August ceremonies have dipped well below 50 percent of eligible graduates, while May and December commencements have a participation rate regularly near 90 percent.
“This is really about providing a superior experience for our students. They deserve the energy and excitement that comes in the May and December ceremonies as they celebrate a crowning achievement with their families," Hickman said. "The change will encourage students to complete graduation requirements in time for the May ceremony, rather than assuming the additional cost of an extra summer term.”
After hearing of the decision, many students who planned to graduate in August, like fourth-year criminology and criminal justice student Taylor Bennett, expressed their frustration with the change.
“As a student that's now on my third major, I have worked tirelessly to be able to graduate in my projected year of 2016,” Bennett said. “I faced a number of unexpected obstacles along the way and still managed to finish my degree only two classes short of my original graduation date of May 2016 ... As a senior, I went through my senior check with my advisor, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences, being cleared and planning to graduate August 2016.”
Bennett said that she found out about the decision through the weekly email sent out by the university's Office of Communications, and she had to talk to four different people before she confirmed that August commencement was cancelled for 2016. She said the decision affected her schedule choice.
“I find it absolutely ludicrous the fact that I've spent thousands of dollars and countless hours working towards this moment, and now I'm being informed after having made plans for life after graduation, which include moving, that I have to come back six months later to cross the stage,” Bennett said.
While the decision may inconvenience those intending to participate in the August ceremony, Hickman noted that the cancellation does not have an effect on their graduation status.
“Students complete their degrees in the semester in which they complete the requirements for their degree,” Hickman said. “As always, the Registrar’s Office will review a student’s final credentials at the end of the summer term in August to ensure all degree requirements were met and that there are no outstanding holds on the records. Diplomas will (sic.) be then be ordered and mailed in early Fall as they have been… Those students who do complete their studies in August can always participate in the December commencement ceremony.”
Hickman also said that students meet with their advisor to determine the best way to adjust.