Your College Graduation Checklist

One week ago, I celebrated my college graduation in Boston, Massachusetts. There was food, festivities, and friends and family swarming the streets of my college city. Despite the rainy weather, it was an unforgettable time. To help future graduates make the most of their special days, I decided to research the most important tips for having an amazing time before and during commencement. Graduates, listen up!

Here are my top ten tips for your college graduation:

1. Apply for graduation.

This may sound obvious, but it’s one of those small details that really matters. My school required that I apply for graduation the prior semester. Be sure to find out when the appropriate time is for you to fill out the forms. Then, take a moment to celebrate your graduation early!

2. Find out about tickets.

From my experience, the most common number of tickets to receive at a graduation ceremony is three. If you have a large number of people in your family, find out if there is a way to order more. Another popular way to get tickets is to ask around. Message your friends on Facebook, use Twitter to network with other students or staff, or take it as an opportunity to talk to that cute guy or girl you’ve been eyeing all semester. If no extras are available, find out if there is an on-campus viewing party for family without tickets, so they can watch a live video of the ceremony, as well.

3. Order your cap and gown.

I’ve never seen someone walk without a cap and gown, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to start that trend. It’s very possible that you won’t stand out in a good way. The details of where and when to pick up your robe vary from institution to institution. Get the details ASAP, so you can prepare to spend around forty dollars for your special occasion attire. I will share with you a little secret. There is something magical about slipping on a silky robe, setting your cap just right, and merging into the busy crowd of other achievers. Relish it!

4. Pose for portraits.

Remember those funny photos from elementary school? Your college graduation is the culmination of all of those years of buck teeth, frizzy hair, and frightening fashions. Now is the time to turn it all around and expose the new, grown-up, you! Be sure to make a statement about who you are by styling your hair the way you feel represents you best, and by wearing makeup, if you like.

5. Book travel plans.

Once you know the date of your graduation, start researching for the best travel deals. I’m from New Jersey, so my trip to Boston required an overnight stay, along with travel costs. I used Google to find a reasonably priced hotel, and it worked out splendidly. Check the prices frequently to see whether or not

6. Watch the weather.

As your commencement date approaches, you should watch the weather  to prepare clothing and shoes in case it rains or snows. I wasn’t prepared to stand out in the chilly rain with the other grads before commencement, so I know from first-hand experience that this is an important one. If you don’t have time to hop on the internet to see what it’ll be like, just toss a pair of boots, a light jacket or coat, and an umbrella into your bag or suitcase. It’s better to be prepared; believe me.

7. Choose a stand-out outfit.

There will be photos. Lots of photos. Be prepared to stand with family, friends, and some faculty that happen to cross your path. This is your special day, so take a little time to pick out clothes that make you feel happy and look good. You can make a fashion statement, like the girl who wore cowgirl boots with her gown. Or, you can hop into a pair of sky-high platforms if the idea of falling on your face doesn’t scare you. I wore flats, and I’m happy I did. Ahhh… comfort!

8. Get in touch with friends.

This is your moment to reconnect with your college pals before you’re sent headfirst into the world with a pretty piece of paper. I graduated in December, so when May commencement came around, I was thrilled to rekindle old connections. Make the most of your special day by taking some time apart from family to talk to your friends and take pictures. If possible, grab a bite to eat together. With all the craziness of the day, you could find yourself starving by early afternoon. Food can help you to relax and avoid feeling crabby.

9. Bring a camera.

Another seemingly obvious thing to remember. This is one of the most opportune times to take pictures. I recommend bringing two cameras. One can be used by you to get insider photographs, the other can be used by family to capture far-away images of the sea of graduates and that special moment when you receive your diploma. If you don’t have a camera, you can pick up a disposable one at the local drug store or bodega. But don’t leave it to the last minute…

10. Don’t forget to smile!

With everything going on around you, you could be so focused on the formality that you don’t look as happy as you really are. This is a special time for you and your family. Take advantage of it! Smile before, during, and after graduation. You’ve earned a degree and a special place at your school and in the world of academia. Let your face reflect the fantastic place you’ve finally arrived at.

Finally, get ready to have fun. After all, graduation is a celebration first and foremost. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a cool speaker, like Bill Cosby. The speech that he gave at Temple University last year was legendary. Watch it below:

For more posts by Sara Kosmyna.

Do you have a graduation story you’d like to share? What other things would you include on this list?

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One Comment

  1. Joe
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    For me after graduation came the hard education. We were in a big recession then and I remember being puzzled and frustrated not finding a job. They did not teach me about that in school. I got odd jobs, put in applications took civil service tests stayed active and worked at finding happiness with others. It all worked out. The civil service tests paid off. Who knew?
    Enjoy the day. Try, fail, learn and start again. Mostly, enjoy the day.
    U J

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