The notorious “U Can’t Finish” saying may actually hold true for some students who walk at commencement but cannot officially graduate until later on due to unsatisfied last-minute requirements.

Some students have found themselves in the predicament of being approved for and expecting to graduate at a certain time, only to find out at the end of their graduating semester that they failed to meet one or more of their requirements — therefore delaying their graduation.

“Although it is rare for a student to get through a semester without knowing they are not graduating (due to the multiple communications from the advising offices), the most common reason that a student does not graduate is due to not earning the grade needed for a specific class,” an email from the College of Health and Public Affairs’ Undergraduate Student Services states.

This can prove to be tricky during terms when final grades come in after or on the day of commencement ceremonies.

“When grades post, each student on the graduation list is notified of any deficient grade requirements, and we are able to work with them individually to craft a graduation plan,” the email states.

Angela Mariner, an elementary education graduate, walked at commencement for the spring 2014 semester, but had to remain at UCF for the following summer to pass her social studies certification exam in order to officially graduate.

“That was the only thing holding me back from graduating,” Mariner said. “I had to take a zero-credit-hour class in the summer that I literally didn’t have to do anything for, just so that I was enrolled at UCF because you can’t graduate unless you are enrolled. I didn’t know I wasn’t going to pass the test right before graduation. I don’t think that a test should determine whether or not you graduate from college.”

Anne Kizer, assistant director of admissions and graduation for the College of Business Administration, said participating in commencement is often misconstrued as having a degree awarded, but the two are not synonymous with each other.

University registrar Brian Boyd said commencement is a ceremony for the university’s recognition of the students’ accomplishments, whereas the certification and awarding of degrees is done by the colleges and the office of the registrar.

According to HPA’s USS, each year, less than 3 percent of expected graduates do not meet graduation requirements by the time of commencement. With 2,650 graduates in 2014, that means nearly 80 students were affected.

The College of Business Administration awards anywhere from 600 to 1,000 degrees per semester, and Kizer said typically around 10 to 15 students per term — or 30 to 45 each year — are not able to receive their degrees, but participate in commencement anyway.

“Because the majority of these denials are a result of a student not passing a required course with a sufficient grade, these students who participate in commencement should be aware that they will not have the degree awarded,” Kizer said.

Boyd said the university has 30 days to get all of the degrees conferred, but given the number of students who graduate each year, it’s a lengthy process. He said the individual colleges first review the students from their programs to ensure they’ve satisfied their respective program requirements.

Once a student is approved by his or her college, the records get forwarded to the registrar’s office, which ensures the student has met all university requirements.

“The process of applying for graduation is an opportunity for you as a student to review your information and make sure it is what you want to graduate with,” Boyd said. “[It’s] also to get with your adviser and make sure that you’re on track so that when you get to the end of the semester, nothing should be a surprise to you as a student as to whether you truly are going to be finishing or not.”

To avoid any graduation-related headaches, Kizer said students should constantly check their degree audits and their Knights email, as well as check in with their college’s advising office to ensure they are on track for graduation.

“There is a process to graduate, and each college may operate slightly differently,” she said. “If a student is graduating with a minor in a different college from their major, they should be checking with both colleges.

“All colleges make a significant effort to communicate with students regarding issues pertaining to graduation and their degree requirements if it’s something that can be fixed or known ahead of time.”


Danielle Hendrix is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @ByDaniHendrix or email her at

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