For something people spend several years and thousands of dollars to earn, the college diploma is not as popular as it would seem.
In February, Kansas University officials ordered Josten's in Red Wing, Minn., to print 5,300 parchment diplomas for its 1992 graduates, including students who completed course work in the summer and fall of 1991.
But for several reasons, only about two out of three diplomas will be picked up by graduating students. First, not all students who completed the paperwork for graduation will graduate.
"It's basically in concrete," said John Rademacher, assistant registrar. "If they get an incomplete or don't pass or find out they didn't have all the hours, then . . . "
Then they don't get their diplomas. Linda Faust, records supervisor in the registrar's office, said about 1,200 diplomas were voided for these reasons in a survey she did five years ago. If that number is applied to the 5,300 diplomas printed for 1992, about 22.6 percent of the diplomas will not be conferred.
STUDENTS who miss out on their diplomas for these reasons are not denied in the future, provided they finish their work and thus earn the diploma.
An unfounded fear of fines may account for the remaining 10 percent to 15 percent of the diplomas that are earned but not picked up. But KU does not hold diplomas because of unpaid parking tickets or fines from one of the university's libraries.
"We did do that years ago before '78 they did hold diplomas," Faust said.
Rademacher said KU only holds transcripts for students with delinquent fines, "which is a pretty standard procedure at most universities."
Diplomas will be available from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday on the first floor of Strong Hall following commencement exercises. A photo ID is required to pick them up.
But picking them up after the traditional walk down the hill isn't that popular, Rademacher said. In the last five years, an average of only 23 percent of the graduates have bothered to pick up their diplomas on graduation day. The best turnout during that time registered 36 percent.
"WE JUST assume everybody's going to come through," he said. "It's not 'til the end of the day, we see all these diplomas left, and we say, `Wow, where are they?"
Faust said "family plans" is the most common reason given for the poor Sunday showing. She said another 150 to 200 diplomas will be handed out in the first floor hallway at Strong Hall on Monday and Tuesday.
"Then we'll mail many of them," Faust said.
Generally, the registrar's office holds diplomas six months before they are incinerated by the facilities and operations department.
"It's a pretty sensitive and serious document," Rademacher said.