Catalog rights. Have you ever heard of them? Most students have not. Even though they are a small but crucial aspect of the college experience, catalog rights are often never brought up until the last minute, or worse — when you have been denied for graduation.
But you took all the classes you were supposed to right? Unless you went out of your way to confirm your catalog year, you may be in trouble without even realizing it.
Catalog rights, according to the Los Medanos College website, are the rights of a student to use the graduation requirements of any one catalog released while they have been a continuously enrolled student at LMC.
LMC releases a new catalog each year, and some of the requirements for various degrees may have changed from the previous year. Catalog rights allow for a continuously enrolled student to choose which catalog year to graduate from.
The LMC website defines continuous enrollment as “the period of time in which a student’s record reflects completion of at least one course, for one semester or term, during a given catalog year, from the time of original enrollment.”
“A student,” the website adds, “who has a break-in attendance must use the catalog that is in effect at the time of readmission.”
For instance, a student who has been enrolled continuously from 2008 through 2012, has the right to choose any of the catalog requirements from one of those four years as a guideline for graduation requirements.
But for students who skip a semester, their catalog rights reset to the year that they continue at LMC.
Not following a designated catalog year could mean that “the student is missing a requirement or two and they are not eligible for graduation,” said Susie Hansen, interim lead admissions and records assistant.
Ironically, determining what your catalog rights are is easy. Generally, as long as you have been continuously enrolled, it is the year that you enrolled at LMC.
To know for sure, LMC counselor Frances Moy advises students to best seek out a counselor’s confirmation. Counselors can also help you figure out if you’re catalog year is actually the best fit for your graduation/transfer goals.
“If a new catalog comes out, the requirements change and it benefits the student to use that catalog year, they are certainly welcome to use that new catalog,” said Hansen.
Navigating through the graduation or transfer process is hard enough, especially without the guidance of a counselor.
LMC’s website recommends that students make an appointment to see a counselor once a semester. This will help to ensure that the graduation/transfer track you think you are on is actually the best fit.
During appointments, counselors also can help students fill out a complete graduation application. Some of the most common mistakes, according to Moy, include missing or incomplete major declarations.
Deadlines to apply for graduation are as follows: for Spring, it is March 1. For Summer, July 1, and for Fall, October 1.
Students “need to know that they do not get their actual diploma at the ceremony,” said Hansen, clarifying that “diplomas are mailed about two months after graduation.”
For make an appointment with a counselor, you can contact the counseling department at (925) 439-2181 x3334, or you can stop by their office at the college complex Level 2: CC2–270.