EDUCATION

Art Institute of Washington seniors blocked from graduation

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Some seniors at a local institute say their school won't let them graduate, and not because they didn't pass their classes.

Art Institute of Washington. Photo: artinstitutes.edu/arlington/

They say their advisors miscalculated their credits.

The students say since they came to the Art Institute of Washington, their advisors told them which classes to take, and that they were on track to graduate. Then just weeks before graduation, they got the devastating news.

Ramon Williams, 26, wants to make movies based on the Bible. He currently works part-time at ABC7 News while completing his bachelors degree at the Art Institute of Washington.

"It was just something I didn't even know I loved doing, and now it has become my dream," Williams says. "If I don't complete this quarter, it throws off the plans that I have for my own life."

But six weeks before graduation he says the for-profit school told him he was six credits short and he would have to stay an additional semester. At a cost of $2,500.

Delisia Harris says she's gone through the same thing. And Harris and Williams say dozens of other students have as well.

"To hear that kind of news, it's like a wrecking ball into your whole entire world. It's just ridiculous," Williams says.

Part of the problem stems from a recent curricular review that made some classes worth fewer credits than in years past.

Art Institute officials declined to be interviewed on camera, but in a statement the school wrote, "The Art Institute of Washington is unaware of any student not on track to graduate this quarter due to revised credit hour requirements...(The Institute) encourages any student who may have concerns to contact their academic advisors or academic department chairperson directly."

Williams and Harris say they've already talked with their advisors and they were told nothing could be done.

Williams says he has struggled with whether to speak out about it because he fears retribution. He says he ultimately made the decision because it's the right thing to do.

"I didn't just want to sit back and not say anything, because I think about future students that come in here," he says. "I don't want that to happen to other students."

Now the school has instructed any students with this problem to meet with the dean.

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