Summa Cum Laude Denied on a Technicality


Courtesy of William Paterson University

Nicole Casal, Editor-in-Chief

The month prior to graduation is one of the most stressful times of a college student’s life. A goal that one has been working towards for four years is just slightly out of reach. However, William Paterson University recently put a damper on my excitement and sense of accomplishment by denying me my rightfully earned summa cum laude cords.

During the “Pioneer Salute” ceremony, I was told that due to the number of credits I have taken at other universities, I do not have enough WPU-based credits to qualify for summa cum laude, regardless of my 3.957 GPA. The summa cum laude recognition will be depicted on my transcript and diploma, but the lack of recognition nullifies the point of graduation for me.

During my senior year of high school, I had the amazing opportunity to take three classes (6 credits) at Fairleigh Dickinson University and obviously took advantage of the opportunity. I was excited to jump start my college career at 17 years old.

I subsequently attended County College of Morris after high school and earned my associate degree. I transferred to WPU to complete my bachelor’s in communication.

My two years at WPU have been some of the most fulfilling times of life. I have been Editor-in-Chief of the school’s newspaper, The Beacon, and an inducted member of Phi Sigma Tau- Iota Chapter, the international honor society in philosophy. Thanks to my outstanding professors in the communication and philosophy departments, I feel wholly prepared to start the next phase in my life as a professional journalist.

However, this disheartening situation is one of my final interactions with this university, and it has left such a bad taste in my mouth. I cannot grasp why someone would penalize a top student for being more advanced than his or her peers and taking college-level classes in high school.

While my arguments against this decision seem to have fallen on deaf ears with president Richard Helldobler and provost Sandy De Young, I will continue my strife in appealing this unnecessary policy for myself and future transfer students who will be equally as disappointed. I have decided to not attend graduation on May 15 as it is senseless to be a part of a ceremony that is not celebrating my accomplishments.