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I applied for graduation last week. It was quick, impersonal and automated, and it left me with a funny sense of emptiness.

The application for graduation from ASU is a simple procedure. You can apply online, in person or by mail, but the process is the same each way.

You complete a survey that compartmentalizes the college experience into a series of categories — be they social, athletic, educational or otherwise. You’re asked how effective your teachers were, how much you liked the food. You become a statistic. It costs $50.

A few clicks and it’s done.

For something so monumental, I expected something more. Fireworks, maybe. A hug. Someone shaking my hand and saying, “Good job!” at least.

I didn’t get these. What I did get was an e-mail from the registrar that popped into my inbox soon after I applied. Here it is:

Zach Fowle,

A credit card payment in the amount of $50.00 was approved on 03/01/2010 at 4:18 PM.

The confirmation number is 9847655.


QuikPAY Online Services

Mazel tov! Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

It’s fitting, really, for this is much the same manner the University treats its students throughout the years they spend here. Contribute to our statistical analysis. Pay your money. Move along.

Maybe it’s to be expected from a school with a population greater than the entire country of Liechtenstein.

As ASU continues to exponentially increase its enrollment, there will unavoidably be a decrease in personal attention. Sprawling lecture halls holding hundreds of students dot the campuses. Academic advisors manage the needs of thousands of students. Online classes eliminate the need for face-to-face interaction. It’s a choice we made, as prospective Sun Devils, to be one among almost 70,000.

But it’s also lamentable that we must trade face-to-face attention for robotic processes. As a senior dreading graduation, fearful of the real world and actually sad to leave this school, I wish the University appreciated me for reasons other than my money and statistical input and could put more thought into preparing me to finally leave school.

I understand that commencement is supposed to be the final celebration of an ASU graduate’s accomplishments. But applying for graduation is comparatively significant. It’s the first step toward the final step; the beginning of the end.

It would be nice to know the University realized my four years here amounted to much more than survey results. It would be nice to know my graduation meant as much to the University as it does to me.

Zach is still waiting for the fireworks. Send empathetic packs of snakes and sparklers to

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