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Graduation Day Planning

Posted on 27 September 2008

I started planning for graduation almost six months in advance. By the time graduation weekend rolled around, my parents were safely situated in a hotel room, the family celebration dinner was arranged, and the post-graduation party for my buddies was planned. Of course, my parents, situated in a hotel room miles away from campus, managed to get lost in the middle of the city on graduation day, causing us to be almost two hours late for the much anticipated dinner.

Lesson: no amount of preparation will ensure that everything comes out exactly as you intended it. However, you can take some basic steps to ensure that graduation preparations proceed hassle-free so you can enjoy the actual day with your friends and family.

  • Academics. First and foremost, make sure you’re actually graduating. Most schools will keep you up to date on this information, but it never hurts to check with the registrar’s office to make sure you’ve fulfilled your school’s credit requirements.
  • Graduation tickets. Some schools limit the number of tickets per student, so make sure you have enough for your family. If you have more relatives than tickets, ask around. Friends or acquaintances might be willing to part with extra ones and some schools have lotteries through which you might be able to get an extra ticket or two. Make sure, however, that your family knows well in advance how many people will be attending so you can plan accordingly. You don’t want aggravated relatives depriving you of generous gifts because they had to watch your graduation via Internet multicast.
  • Accommodations. Hotel rooms go quickly when hundreds of parents want to watch their child graduate firsthand. Depending on where you live, prepare to have your hotel reservations booked at least four to six months ahead of time to ensure that your parents and family find themselves at a place close to you and the campus. Make sure to ask, though – certain weekends in big college towns like Boston can book up a year in advance.
  • Transportation. If your parents are renting a car or driving to see you, ask about parking. Find out if your school has a limit on the number of available parking spaces and if you need permits or stickers to use them. If your family will rely on public transportation, make sure you’ve familiarized them as to prices, routes and stops to minimize your chances of losing them.
  • The Big Family Dinner. If you’re going out to dinner with your family after the big event, make arrangements beforehand. Call your favorite restaurant months ahead and make reservations, even if you don’t know exactly how many people are going to make it. You can always reduce the number of people when you make the confirmation call – the trick is to have a table to begin with.
  • Post Graduation Festivities. Of course, you’ll want to celebrate with your friends as well. Keep your sanity intact by keeping planning to a minimum. Why not arrange a joint dinner at a restaurant with some of your closest friends and their families? The parents will have so much fun talking to one another, they’ll leave you alone to reminisce amongst yourselves. If you insist on throwing a big blowout, again, plan ahead. You don’t want to find yourself running to the grocery store for paper cups and ice in your cap and gown.

Prepare well enough before hand, and your graduation plans will appear effortlessly executed. You’ll impress your parents and convince them that after several years of expensive education, you’re finally ready for the real world. And if something goes wrong – which it will – smile, roll with the punches and have another glass of champagne.

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