- Practical Matters
- Apply for Graduation
- Academic Review
- Order Your Regalia
- Connect with the Office of Career Services
- Time for Fun
- Order Tickets
- Make Reservations
- Keep Calm and Graduate On
From the moment you were celebrating decision day, you may have begun to notice the road to college graduation can be long and, at times, uncertain. In all honesty, that road is never the same for any two people. Regardless of whether you attend a community college for your Associate’s or are on track to complete your Doctorate at a research university, each step you take should be one towards walking away with a degree in hand. You’ve earned the graduation ceremony that will soon be upon you, and you can expect some moments, both practical and experiential, as you speed towards those commencement exercises.
Your college or university has a number of requirements that must be met before you can walk in your commencement. Some of these requirements are administrative while most are academic, but believe it or not, there are reasons for each.
Colleges that fail to properly execute graduation policies can potentially lose accreditation; and when a college loses accreditation, it can put the legitimacy of the degree students will receive as a badge of all their hard work! So, when you go to pick up your application, take your graduation photos, and receive your final, cumulative GPA, you’re doing so so that those after you can be proud of what they’ve accomplished, too. If you could give yourself advice as a college Freshman, wouldn’t you want to let him or her know what this commitment means?
Apply for Graduation
While it may seem like an iterative process, you do actually have to submit an application for graduation. Following your school’s proper protocol, you need to formally inform the school’s administration of your intention to graduate. This simple step sets up a number of key activities in your interest:
- The bursar, or finance office, will let you or your advisor know if you have any outstanding bills, fines, or other financial obligations that must be paid.
- Your official transcript may be moved from the registrar’s office to the records office. This will be important if you are applying for graduate school, and many employers will want to see it, too.
- The printer will be informed of exactly how you would like your name to appear in various graduation materials; including the correct degree you’ve earned as well as the correct date of your graduation to be put on your diploma, for example.
- Your school will need your post-graduation mailing address, so that your diploma is sent to its proper home.
While you are preparing for the end of the semester, you’ll likely have an academic review, senior check, or graduation check. This, like the graduation application, is very important, meant to ensure you’ve met the same requirements as your fellow students; not just at your school, but other schools, as well.
More often than not, a Bachelor of Arts degree from an accredited university is equivalent to a similar Bachelor of Arts degree or certificate at another accredited university. Your transcript will be scrutinized; core requirements will be reviewed, as well as the field of study requirements. Did you pass with the minimum required grades or truly excel?
Apply for Academic Honors
Once the Academic Review process has been completed and if you are fortunate enough to have fulfilled certain academic rigors, you’ll want to file for the appropriate honors. Some schools and organizations require students to actively apply or file, while others may not. Talk among your classmates and check in with your advisor for program protocols.
Order Your Regalia
The etiquette for graduation garb is something every college graduate cherishes, posing for more-than-a-few photos of themselves on graduation day and waiting expectantly to toss their caps in the air. Ordering your cap and gown often marks the moment where things get real for many students.
Keep in mind that your school may have a specific cap and gown supplier. Some universities have unique designs or add-ons that make their regalia unique. Even certain degrees require specialized caps and gowns (hello, white coats!). Your school should provide you instructions to let you know where and how to order yours.
Connect with the Office of Career Services
One of the most unique tips you can use to prepare you for college is to use the resources around you, establishing a relationship with your school’s Office of Career Services paramount among them. This office is going to be an invaluable tool for you as you begin a career search. Employment service officers are going to be able to help you prepare a resume and cover letter, look for work opportunities, and even apply for internships and fellowships.
Time for Fun
Of course, getting ready for graduation isn’t all studying and paperwork. You have definitely earned the right to celebrate; I mean . You may feel nervous or you might be beaming with anticipation and confidence. Either way, enjoy the moment as best as you can.
Many schools have strict rules for commencement ceremonies and ticket distribution is often the most important. Know how many tickets you are allowed, how many you need, and what you are going to do if those two numbers don’t match.
Remember, you are not the only person graduating on the big day. It is best to have some idea what your supporting crew are going to be up for. Are you going straight home or going out to celebrate? If you’re going out, and your school is located in a rural area, your dining choices may be limited. Figure on a rush of families and friends for the majority of your fellow graduates going out immediately following the ceremonies. The same goes for hotel availability before and after graduation day. You’ve learned all sorts of time management skills in college, why stop using them now?
Keep Calm and Graduate On
Remember that your college graduation is meant to be a wonderful experience. It is the celebration of what you and your classmates have accomplished over the course of several years of labor, and the commencement of things to come. There are some of you that feel anxiety or stress, and that graduation stress can be natural. Be mindful, pay attention to your emotions, and if things do seem beyond your own ability to handle, speak to someone.
For those of you that are handling the thoughts of your future, great. Keep your head on straight and celebrate responsibly. You don’t want to ruin the experience by making a bad decision now, after all you have accomplished on your way to graduating college.