What kind of graduation weekend you have, or want to have, is a highly individual question. It depends on your preferences and energy levels; how many friends and relatives you have coming into town; and whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, and therefore love or only tolerate large crowds. I count myself among the latter, and initially was more stressed than excited by the idea of graduation. I ended up loving my graduation experience, but I didn’t actually realize I was having fun until the festivities were half over. I have accordingly decided to share just what made my graduation weekend special (and very survivable) with a short insider’s guide on packing, regalia, and the weekend’s various ceremonies.
Tip 1: Pack as much as possible before graduation weekend. I still had about half of my packing to go on Sunday afternoon, and I wasn’t the only one: graduation traffic merged with moving-out traffic for a truly crazy landscape, and finding parking near my dorm was no small project. If you can’t get totally packed beforehand, though, no worries. You will have time afterwards, and traffic calms down a great deal towards the end of the day.
Tip 2: Practice putting on your regalia. On the subject of caps, you may have to use bobby pins to make it stay in place. I know mine spent the entire weekend trying its best to slide off the back of my head. (Also, watch out for low-hanging branches.) The trickiest element, though, is the hood. During the course of the weekend, even more common than, “What are your plans after graduation?” is “How do you put this hood on right?” (Spoiler: no one knows.)
Tip 3: The Candlelight Ceremony is awesome. Go to it.
Tip 4: Coordinate with friends for the large ceremony on Saturday! You are not arranged in alphabetical order for the ceremony, and ushers make an effort to seat groups of friends together. Having friends to laugh with and help hold my purse while I adjusted my cap for the umpteenth time made all the difference in the world.
Tip 5: Your professors love you! My favorite part of the departmental ceremony was afterwards, when I got to greet my professors as an alumnus for the first time.
Tip 6: Most importantly, make graduation weekend your own. It is your weekend, after all, which can be strangely easy to forget with all the constant activity. Take some time to slow down, if you need to. Wear comfortable shoes to Saturday’s ceremony (I ditched my heels for Clarks boat shoes – best decision ever). And spend time with the people you love. My favorite memory from the weekend isn’t actually of any of the ceremonies. It’s sitting around my grandmother’s kitchen table, talking until midnight with my mom, one of my best friends in the whole world, and my uncle who drove all the way from Pennsylvania to see me graduate.
So get ready, and get excited. Whatever year you’re going to graduate, it’s going to be an awesome weekend.