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So Your Loved One Is Graduating?

Updated on May 10, 2011

Will you be attending a Graduation this year?

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Tips To Making The Day Go More Smoothly

A Graduation is a truly special day. For some, it is the happy beginning of a new way of life. For others, it is a scary reminder of all that awaits them once they flip that tassel. With Graduation season in full swing, I give you the following ten tips (in no particular order) with the hope that they’ll help you get as much out of the ceremony as you can.

  1. Wear Comfortable Shoes

    With everyone wanting to celebrate this day, the parking lot will be packed. Unless you have a handicapped plate, you’ll have to park a mile away from the venue. (Most schools have a van or bus to transport you from the parking lot to the venue though.) Also, chances are the seats will fill up very fast and you’ll end up having to stand for some time. Though you’ll want to look good for your graduate, don’t wear heels or dress shoes. You’ll only regret it later. Trust me. No one will be looking at your feet.

  2. Get There Early

    Yes, there are buses, but they fill up fast and don’t circulate half as often as they should. Unless you are up to the walk, you’ll be spending time waiting for transportation. On a special day, every minute counts. You don’t want to run the risk of being late and miss seeing your student’s procession. I suggest you set your alarm early and plan for any and all delays. Check your alarm clock’s batteries. Have your clothes set out the night before. Don’t plan to do anything, but get to that Graduation that morning. Arrive at the parking lot before it’s packed. Get on one of the earlier buses so that you can get a seat. Graduation morning is a crazy time. Expect the unexpected.

  3. Plan Travel Arrangements Ahead Of Time

    In college, I always used to laugh when I would hear the upperclassmen whine about their family members not booking their flights and hotel rooms before the Graduation crunch. However, the year I graduated, I understood what they meant. While my family is mostly local, many of my friends’ families didn’t think ahead and had to scramble to get a flight to Massachusetts. They ended up having to book hotel rooms an hour away from the ceremony. It was a disaster, but not as much as it could’ve been. If you are not local and plan on attending a Graduation, I suggest you book a flight and/or a hotel room at least a month in advance. It seems foolish until you’re in the middle of it.
  4. Do You Need A Ticket?/Do You Need A Special Parking Voucher?

    Some Graduations I’ve attended required that you show a ticket at the door. Other Graduations had tickets, but just for show. You need to have your Graduate find this out as soon as possible so that you won’t experience the embarrassment of being turned away at the door. On a connected note, if you require handicapped parking, you may need a special sign to hang in your car so that you can park closer to the event. I know you think that your handicapped plate or plaque card alone will allow for you to park closer. However, some places require you to display both a school issued voucher and the state official one. This too needs to be found out in advance. If I hadn’t gotten my papers in on time, my grandmother wouldn’t have been able to come to my college Graduation.

  5. Check The Weather Reports Often

    I graduated from college during a very, very bad rainstorm. Areas of the state were flooded. Many Graduates’ family members couldn’t make it because cars don’t take well to rivers. The school had been warned for weeks and was totally prepared. However, the weather has a way of doing funky things. You may think you’re in for a beautifully sunny day and it ends up raining. You may dress for winter weather and it ends up being sweltering. I suggest that you prepare for all weather. Carry with you both an umbrella and a mini battery operated fan. You never know when you’ll need them, but you’re always happy that you have them when you do.

  6. Bring A Bottle Of Water

    You will get thirsty. Even if it’s twenty below, you will feel the need to drink water. It’s a combination of nerves and your body’s way of showing you who is boss. As water does no harm, no one will care or stop you from drinking some water. This is a big day. You want to make sure you stay hydrated.

  7. Bring Snacks

    I’m not suggesting that you bring a cooler and a grill to the ceremony. However, it would be smart if you packed some crackers and other small edible items. Chances are you’ll be in such a rush during the morning that you’ll forget to eat breakfast. You don’t want to crunch and disturb other people, but passing out from hunger will distract people even more. Yes, hors d'oeuvres are usually served once the ceremony has ended, but you never know how long the speeches will last. Pack a snack. You’ll be glad you did.

  8. Check Your Camera For Batteries And Film/Memory Card

    Being so preoccupied with seeing your loved one graduate, you don’t want to forget to pack the all important camera. Worse yet, you don’t want to pack a dead camera. The day before the ceremony, check the life of the camera’s batteries and how many pictures are left on the memory card/film. To be on the safe side, pack some spare batteries. There’s nothing worse than having your Graduate pose with their favorite teacher only to have to tell them that the batteries are dead.

  9. Is The Graduation Being Professionally Videotaped?

    Graduations are long and are boring in parts and emotional in others. Chances are you may dose off during the speech or miss something you will definitely want to be able to see later. If you didn’t record the ceremony yourself, I suggest you order a copy of the Graduation. Some people order it ahead of time. Others wait until the day and get order forms then. Honestly, it doesn’t matter when you order it. Having a copy might be a good idea though. You can show it to people who weren’t able to make it. Even more of a reason is that you can fast forward over everyone else’s kid and just pay attention to yours.

  10. Find Out Where Your Graduate Will Be In The Procession

    Personally, I could’ve lived without seeing my mom sobbing on my way into the tent. For me, it was distracting and a reminder that my days at college were over with. However, some Graduates do in fact like to know that the ones they love are there, cheering them on. For your sake, you want to make sure that you’re standing where you can see them so that you’re taking pictures of your child and not of someone else’s.

    While I’m sure there are many more tips to give, those are the ones that I feel are most important. Congratulations to all Graduates and to the families and friends who supported them along the way. Enjoy the day!


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