APU will officially hold a zoom graduation ceremony for seniors and has plans to return to in-person learning in Fall 2021. 

On Mon. Feb. 22, all APU students and staff received an email from APU President Paul Ferguson, who shared that graduating seniors will have a virtual graduation and that the school has plans to return to in-person learning this fall. A follow-up email was sent on Feb. 23 answering some questions about a possible return. 

Over the past year, we have activated a comprehensive health and safety plan, including an enhanced APU COVID-19 Testing Center, frequent sanitization of campus learning spaces, facial coverings, contact tracing protocols, and more,” the most recent email shared about the Fall 2021 semester. 

The President announced they will hold two distinct graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 8 at 10 a.m. for undergraduates and 3 p.m. for graduate students respectively.

For all questions surrounding commencement, President Ferguson has directed all students to the commencement website.

The second email stated, “The pandemic has had a significant economic impact on students and families. As an affirmation of our steadfast commitment to supporting you throughout this season, APU will maintain the current undergraduate tuition rate with no increase for 2021-22.”

In his email, the President addressed the fact that many questions remain regarding a return to campus and what that looks like. He guided students towards a FAQ page for updates. 

With the unfortunate news about a virtual graduation, how are some seniors feeling about the news? 

Madison Marasa, a senior psychology major, stated that graduating online is not the end of the world as she wants everyone to be safe.

Marasa also shared how she’s been looking forward to graduation since she’s a first-generation student. “I imagined having a big celebration. But at the end of the day, being able to spend time with my family long term and not worry about my college graduation [and] causing someone to get Covid makes me feel better,” she remarked. Marasa plans to spend her graduation with family and friends in the backyard. 

“A positive side to this online graduation would be travel concerns. I am an out-of-state student, with family in other countries, so with this online version my relatives can watch from all over the country without having to travel.” Says Miranda Allison, an APU senior studying film

Allison also remarked that she will miss the festivities and celebrations that go along with an in-person graduation, including purchasing a cap and gown for pictures with friends. Allison intends to make the most of the situation by having a more intimate gathering with those she loves. 

While seniors have mixed emotions about graduating online, returning students also have mixed emotions about returning in the fall. 

Ginee Dizon, an APU junior studying nursing, shared some of her thoughts about an in-person semester. Dizon said she “feels more anxious than excited.” She expressed concern over the fact that APU has yet to share a real return plan and she doesn’t know if everyone will be as cautious as her. 

Dizon said that while she would enjoy, “socializing, less/no more zoom fatigue, better learning environment for some and APU getting money again.” However, she fears the risk of transmission on campus. 

Dizon adds that she hopes that APU does not invite everyone back to campus at once. She stated that she hopes, “there would be dividers in the classroom between seats, kind of like a bubble for each student,” as well as smaller class sizes. 

Due to the unpredictability of COVID-19, these outlines are subject to change within the next 8 months.  While the university remains confident that students will be able to return to campus for the Fall 2021 semester, they are following Los Angeles County guidelines.

The university will continue to be in contact with students and staff regarding future plans, and continue to check back at the Destination APU webpage for updates.