Registrar's Self-Assessment - Advising, Degree Audit, Graduation, and Commencement

September 20, 2021
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • Registrar Self-Assessment
  • registrar

Registrars are often called the “hub” or “heart” of campus, and for good reason. The registrar’s office is a central, essential component of the institutional ecosystem, touching students at every phase of the academic journey from applicant to alumni.

But how many people outside of higher education administration — or even within it — truly understand what a registrar does?

“A registrar should see themselves as a peer of academics and a partner in the delivery of educational programs,” according to the preface of the Registrar’s Basic Guide. “As the steward of the academic record and the keeper of institutional data, the registrar…. sits at the crossroads between student service and academic programing, [distinctly] suited to use the data at hand to help shape discussions and decisions in the context of desired educational outcomes for the institution and students alike.”

It's time for a check up. How efficient is the heart of your campus?
The Registrar's Self-Assessment is a practical guide for registrars to assess a variety of functions, processes, and procedures. The Self-Assessment was developed for the working professional as a cost-effective and simple way to evaluate your office operations. It allows members to grade their proficiency in several determined core competencies, including managing the registrar’s office, academic policies, grading processes, degree audits, professional development, and more. The Self-Assessment identifies areas for potential improvement and recommends specific relevant AACRAO resources and products to increase mastery in these areas. Available in both digital and physical formats, the self-assessment mimics the approach an outside consultant would use to evaluate the operations of a registrar's office.

The Self-Assessment is broken into several topics to help learners focus on specific areas of improvement. In this issue, we are examining Chapter 6 of the self-assessment to give readers a better understanding of the type of material they will encounter. Chapter 6 of the Registrar's Self-Assessment centers on Advising, Degree Audit, Graduation, and Commencement. 

For each section, we were given access to the underlying principles upon which the assessment was built. The following is a short preview of what you can expect to encounter while taking the self-assessment. 

Academic Advising

Guiding principles:

  • Accurate advising enhances the student's ability to make satisfactory academic progress toward completion of degree requirements.
  • The Office of the Registrar should maintain open communication with academic advisors, develop and support advising tools, and promote processes that allow for a student's timely progress towards a degree.

Questions asked in this section are designed to help Registrars shed light on their internal processes and structures while also offering guidance and action plans based on the responses given.

Degree Audit

Guiding principles:

  • It is critical that students are aware of the requirements for each degree offered. The registrar's Office is responsible for communicating accurate progress-to-degree information to both the student and the advisor.
  • The Registrar's Office is responsible for monitoring changes in curriculum and reflecting those changes in the degree audit in collaboration with academic advising.

Learners will be asked about specific tasks and responsibilities throughout this section and, depending on responses, be given advice on how to improve or revise their current processes.


Guiding principle:

  • One of the most important functions of the Registrar's Office is the partial or total certification of candidates for graduation. The process by which this is accomplished should be structured and the time sequence for accomplishing it should be articulated and adhered to, with the responsibilities of the personnel involved clearly defined.

This section looks at every detail of graduation processing and asks Registrars to think about things like application format, deadlines, files, fees, approvals, and more. After completing this section you should have a very clear view of what you are doing now, and suggestions for ways you can improve.


Guiding Principles:

  • The commencement ceremony is the public recognition of the successful completion of academic programs provided by the institution. For students and their families, this is a meaningful ceremony and every effort should be made to ensure that students are informed well in advance of all related policies and procedures.
  • In most institutions, the Registrar’s Office has some responsibility for the publication of the commencement program. To ensure its accuracy, all aspects of the process (e.g., drafting, proofing, printing) should be conducted within adequate timelines and with careful attention to detail.

As with previous sections, Registrars will be asked to examine and define every step of the commencement process. This self-reflection is critical to improving upon and revitalizing the roles and duties performed in your Registrar's Office. 

Interested in utilizing the registrar's self-assessment in your office? Visit AACRAO's On-Demand Learning page to gain access.