Poll: Did you/do you know when your college catalog expired/will expire?

I work at a college, and a few times per year former students contact us about finishing their degrees. In some cases, these students have been away for years*, and frequently discover that their college catalog has expired and the requirements for the degree they were planning have changed. Sometimes the changes are trivial, while in other students are surprised to learn that requirements changed substantially, which requires them to take additional courses in order to graduate.

The saddest cases are the students who honestly thought they had graduated, and only found out later that they didn’t. The majority of former students know they needed something else to finish their degree, but many of them don’t realize that their catalogs have an expiration date and that requirements can change.

When I was an undergrad, I never had any idea that I had a deadline to finish my degree without possibly having new requirements. I had a very traditional college experience, heading off to a four-year school at 18 and graduating from the same at 22. No one I ever talked to, whether advisor, professor, or fellow student, brought it up.

As an employee, we mention this briefly at new-student orientation, but it’s not something that gets brought up a lot because the vast majority of our students finish in within two to six years. When I work individually with students who might be affected because they’re planning long absences, I make sure to tell them.

Is this something everyone but me knew about or this an issue that few people know about? If you had a catalog that never expired, that would be interesting too.

*In one case it had been decades, and involved a very cool lady returning to finish her degree in her sixties.

I’m reasonably sure I knew it could expire. My dad was an associate dean for a while at the school I went to, and my boss at an on-campus job was taking classes to finish his Bachelor’s degree, because he had waited too long to finish his degree, and the catalog had expired.

Catalog expiration isn’t always a bad thing, though - Alton Brown never got his degree from the University of Georgia because he had one foreign-language class remaining, but many years later, they sent him his diploma when they dropped the degree requirement. (I can’t find the cite, but my wife was just reading an article to that effect last week.)

I was progressing as of my catalog and then got activated for Desert Storm. When I came back (missed 3 semesters) I realized after another year that I had been “upgraded” to a more recent catalog. Not really a big deal except that the new requirements added a artsy fartsy class.

As a science major, the last thing I wanted was an art or music class. Couldn’t I take another math or literature instead? NO! But I managed to talk my counselor into letting “Greek and Roman Mythology” count for an arts course. Ah, that was a very interesting course.

I don’t really understand the question. We got a new catalog each year.

What it means is this: Let’s say you start college in 2011 going for a chemistry major. Your “catalog” requires you to take 130 credit hours broken down into so many physical science, so many life science, so many math, humanities, arts, electives, etc.

As long as you continue through college, those are your catalog requirements for your degree.

Now lets say another student enters college for a chemistry program in 2012. The school has decided that now a chemistry degree needs 132 credit hours and that it needs to be weighted a bit more heavily towards humanities. That catalog only pertains to the 2012 student. NOT YOU. You continue to progress under the catalog you started with.

The OP is addressing those situations where there was a hiatus in the degree progression and the returning student doesn’t realize that he has been changed over to the new catalog (and thus different requirements than when he started.) Happened to me, but my break was short, the requirement change minor, and the school worked with me.

At the two universities I attended for undergrad, students were required to meet with their advisors every semester before they could register for the next semester, and I do remember catalog requirements and degree progress being mentioned at every appointment, and forms used that tracked progress and major requirements.

The university I attended for my master’s degree did NOT do any of that and advisement was not required. It was up to the student to track requirements.

My college had the same setup as tygre, where you had to meet with an advisor before being allowed to sign up for new classes.

I was in the honors program so I had to meet with an honors advisor…except she never knew anything about the journalism requirements so I had to take the time to meet with a journalism advisor too. I’d meet with the journalism guy then take my notes over to the honors lady and have her sign off on it.

I do know that our catalog changed while I was in school. When I started, journalism majors didn’t have to take math (yay!) By the time I left, there were math requirements. I never had to go by that new catalog, tho.

I am just about to graduate at the end of a four year degree and I had no idea the ‘catalog’ could expire. It wouldn’t have affected me because I’m (obviously) not taking a break, but I had no clue.

I knew that the requirements could change, because there were statements that particular requirements applied to students who had begun a program after a certain semester and others should see an advisor to determine which requirements applied to them. I didn’t know when they would change, but I did know the earliest they could change - if the bulletin when I started was dated 1981-1984, the requirements wouldn’t change until Fall 1985

I don’t see how you could know in advance when a college would change degree requirements. So, although you might know it could happen, you wouldn’t know if it would be 1, 5, or 25 years from now. (also, I’ve never heard the term “catalog” to be used as a synonym for “degree requirements.” Althought it makes some sense, since you could refer to the course catalog to review the requirements).

Our rules were pretty simple. You could graduate under any catalog from the year you started to the year you graduated. So, when the requirements for my degree changes three years in, I could have switched to the new catalog (I didn’t since there were enough changes that I would have had to take a lot more courses).

However, once you were no longer a full time or part time student, that was it, you had to use the calendar that you reenrolled under.

But if you kept taking courses (and didn’t break any other rules like credit attempts or failure limitations) you could use whatever calendar you wanted from the day you enrolled.

This came up a lot in my faculty since people often switched majors and didn’t even have to declare a major (unless they wanted to graduate with the next graduating class). Being math types, we were often trying to find the least number of courses (or the least number of difficult courses) to get a degree.

My girlfriend was in that situation. Found out much after the fact that her final grade for her final class at UMass-Boston had been recorded as an Incomplete, just before the professor retired and moved to Neptune. Had a shitload of hoops to jump through, but finally found a way to get her last needed credit taken care of locally, and should be getting her diploma in the mail any day now!

The coolest part for me was that, for a little while there, I was bangin’ a coed. :wink:

Too many years ago to remember.

The Program Head told us all in class one night (he was also our teacher) that the University was ending our program due to decrease in enrollment. I think he said current students would have something like 3 years to complete it.

This was a night program, btw. Civil Engineering to be exact. Thankfully I completed a few months later.

I knew that it did expire but not when. At one point I was offered the opportunity to switch to a new one if I wanted to.

Calling course requirements a “catalog” sounds odd, but I did know that requirements could change and credits could expire. I don’t remember what the details were, since they weren’t going to affect me.

My university required a counselor to sign off on the first semester’s courses, but not after that. My counselor gave such bad advice, I never did go to see any of them again. Of course, I looked up the degree requirements for my double major as soon as I was accepted, and planned out all my courses in advance to meet them within four years. The counselor was advising lower course loads the initial semester, but that wasn’t compatible with my majors. Fortunately, I convinced her that I knew what I was doing when I showed her my four-year plan. :cool:

Ours expired in ten years–hard and fast rule. We could also use the requirements of ANY catalog issued during our study, but could not mix and match.

Never heard of the term “catalog.” I guess it wouldn’t have surprised me if I took five years off and then learned the requirements had changed. In fact, I would think that pretty reasonable. I only took a year off, but when I came back, I just looked at the current degree requirements and picked out my classes accordingly to make sure I graduated on time. To be fair, though, I didn’t officially settle on my major until spring quarter senior year (we were on a trimester system), so I never had any firm expectations of my curriculum requirements.

It didn’t apply to me, since I enrolled as ChemE first day, and went straight through in 4 years, during which time the requirements didn’t change. However, my roommate was not on the 4-year plan, kept changing majors, dropping classes, and a few times withdrawing entirely to avoid failing grades. Despite my warnings, he ran afoul of shifting requirements and expiring credits multiple ways.

Amusingly, though, after years of part-time studenthood, he received a notice congratulating him on achieving a General Studies degree, with instructions to come to his graduation to receive it. I think he was technically CompSci at the time, but had accidentally fulfilled the requirements for another degree. :smiley:

I guess I never thought about it, but it makes sense. I graduated college in a little bit under four years, so it never came up.