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The Top Five Things You Need to Know About Graduation

by Annamarie Dominno-Cailles

While graduation festivities for 2015 have come and gone, it is never too early to think about preparing for graduation. Here are the top five things you need to know for successful graduation planning.

1. Understand that Graduation and Commencement are Two Different Things.

Graduation is the awarding of a diploma once a student has completed all of the requirements toward their degree. Commencement is the ceremony that celebrates graduation. All students who complete their degree requirements are eligible to walk in a commencement ceremony.

Chase's Graduation - CLE Fort Lauderdale

2. Stay Connected with Your Academic Counselors.

Stay connected with your academic counselors to make sure you are ready for graduation. Students check in with their academic counselors every term to ensure they’re on track for their educational goals. When it comes to graduating, you will need to meet with your counselors at the start of the school year to discuss graduation requirements. For example, if you’re planning to graduate at the end of the Spring term in 2016, schedule an appointment with your counselor during the preceding Fall term in 2015.

3. Students Must Apply (or Petition) to Graduate.

In order to get the graduation process started, students must apply to graduate. Before submitting an application (also known as a petition) for graduation, all requirements must first be met. For example, have you completed all your general education courses, or have you taken enough units for the degree you want to graduate with? Your academic counselor will help make sure you’ve met all the necessary requirements. Most importantly, you will need your counselor’s signature on your petition for graduation.

4. Stay Up-to-Date on Deadlines Regarding Graduation and Commencement.

During the last year of school, and especially in the last term, it is easy for students to become so busy with midterms and finals that paying attention to graduation details becomes a challenge. Thankfully, colleges send out information to graduating students on a regular basis as graduation activities draw near. As a graduating student, take the initiative and check your email regularly for important graduation information. Details such as when to purchase your cap, gown, and tassel, or where to pick up your diploma once it is printed will be emailed to you. Make sure you mark important dates and times in your planner or smartphone, and set reminders. As always, if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask. There are a lot of details, and everyone from your academic advisors to program coordinators will be happy to assist you with your graduation needs.

5. The Walk is Worth It.

Some graduating students opt not to participate in commencement exercises because it is enough for them to receive their diplomas. That’s perfectly all right. Still, the graduation ceremony is an important milestone for students and families because it is a celebration of academic achievement and goals met. I still remember walking across the stage during commencement to receive my scroll while my family cheered me on. That was one of the most memorable moments I’ve ever experienced. From the other perspective, it was just as powerful for me to watch my son walk across the stage during his school’s recent graduation ceremony. Commencement is more than just a school activity filled with regalia and traditional music. It is a celebration of students who have put forth the efforts to reach their goals. Celebrate your success and accomplishment! You’ve worked hard for it.

Newsletter Articles – July 2015

Pablo's graduation

Parents live with the eternal hidden concern of how their children will survive when they are gone. It is not lack of faith; it is simple mathematics. We race against time, we race toward wisdom and let life pass us by. However, wisdom alone cannot make our children independent, but a life well-planned and implemented does envision a better future. Imagine now the life of parents when their child has learning disabilities! All we want is to see them independent, prepared and most importantly, aware of what this world entails so that they can act accordingly.

Rona Schwartz, Director of the Katherine Thomas High School

We have all made it through school in some way, shape or form but how did we do it and what advice could we give to the next generation? Today, success is measured by outcomes, results, or grades, but what truly is success if not for the journey? Graduating from school may be the trophy, but the path to that point and the obstacles overcome are the real achievement. The sweat, blood, and tears that go into the recipe for success and the lessons learned along the way are the real measure of victory.

The Katherine Thomas School, located in Rockville, Maryland, is a non-public school for individuals with language-based learning disabilities. Their staff is made up of experts including Master’s level educators, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and social workers. These professionals come together every day to provide the best opportunities for learning and achievement for their students. Rhona Schwartz, Director of The Katherine Thomas High School, provided some key insights into the recipe for success that play a part in her students’ journeys through school.

Madeline's perspective on attainment and identity

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This question is asked to kids everywhere and to teens in their senior year of high school. Even now, in my last year of college, that one question still haunts me. It haunts everyone.

Success for students with learning differences

What is success? How do you measure it? Although society, as a whole, has somewhat universal indicators of success (e.g., wealth, prestige, power, love), success is a benchmark that is assessed personally and individually. If you take ten different people and ask them how they would define success, they would give you ten different answers. Success is a vague, intangible term and many variables, such as age, experience, practice of faith, personality, educational level, and family values all contribute to the achievements that we hold most dear. In individuals with disabilities, the relativity of success is even more apparent than in the general population. Due to the individual challenges and personal struggles of this population, we often need to relook at our typical notions of success and make them more realistic. As someone who is in a position to support many students’ success, much of my work is geared toward helping our students set realistic benchmarks of achievement and celebrate their seemingly small, but hugely significant victories.

Stephanie Martin, President CLE

The core of CLE’s mission is to foster independence in the remarkable young adults we work alongside. Our services are individually tailored around the students’ needs and interests which allows our team to ‘Meet You Where Are.’ We pride ourselves in adapting our supports around the varying interests of students and the paths they desire to pursue.

From an academic standpoint, we have students pursuing 4-year degrees all the way to certificates in industries and fields they find meaningful to their growth and development. Last year, CLE had the pleasure of celebrating the accomplishments of students including: 13 students transferred to a 4-Year university; 16 students received an Associates or Bachelor’s Degree; 19 students earned certificates in their course of study; and 13 students received honors.

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