Get Ready to Graduate!
It’s finally here; the last semester of college. Although the urge to slack off and have a little fun may be tempting, there are a ton of things you need to tackle before crossing the stage to accept your diploma. Believe it or not, most colleges won’t automatically include you in the graduation ceremony. You actually have to request to participate. There are also some other important details you’ll need to attend to before waving goodbye to your campus forever. If you’re planning to graduate this semester, here’s a list of things you’ll need to accomplish within the next few weeks.
1. Visit Your Adviser
If the last time you stopped by to chat with your college adviser was freshman year, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. It’s not uncommon for schools to change requirements for degree programs, but you have the right to graduate based on the classes and credits required when you first enrolled. Unfortunately, colleges do make mistakes and that sometimes includes placing you in the wrong program year. Check to make sure you have met all of your degree requirements, and clear up any mistakes that might be on your transcript, such as an incomplete or missing grade.
2. Stop by the Cashier’s Office
Once you know your academic record is in good shape, make sure you don’t have any outstanding debts with your college. Stop by the cashier’s office or student services to make sure there aren’t any holds for past due books or that parking ticket you forgot to pay. If you don’t clear your debts before graduating, your college can withhold your diploma and refuse to send copies of your transcript. While you’re there, be sure to update your contact information, too. Otherwise, they may send your diploma to the wrong address.
3. Review the Graduation Guidelines
Most colleges have a designated webpage that includes information on how to apply for graduation and other details about the ceremony. Make sure you review this as soon as possible, as most schools will require you to submit your graduation application within the first four to six weeks of the semester. If you wait too long, you could be out of luck. The webpage should also include information on how to order tickets for the ceremony (many limit the number of guests you can bring), what attire is acceptable, and policies on decorating your graduation cap. Be sure you follow all the rules regarding the ceremony or you could be turned away.
4. Order Your Graduation Bling
Once you have verified your eligibility and submitted your graduation application, it’s time to order your cap and gown, as well as your graduation announcements. If your school is limiting the number of guests that may attend, you might want to consider creating two separate announcements: one for those who will be invited to the ceremony and another to simply share your good news. If you have a large family, consider hosting a graduation celebration after the ceremony to include everyone in your big day. This way, nobody feels left out.
5. Complete the Loan Exit Interview
If you took out any student loans, especially federal, you’ll need to complete a student loan exit interview before you can receive your diploma. For many, this is the first sobering reality that college is over and life in the real world is about to begin. Check with your financial aid office to see what is required or visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website for more information.
6. Visit Your College’s Career Center
Before you graduate, be sure to take advantage of all the free career services your college has to offer. Now is a great time to get some help updating or creating your professional résumé, working on interview skills, or even looking into potential employment opportunities. If you wait until after your receive your diploma, these services may not be available to you.
This semester will go by in the blink of an eye. Take some time to wander around the campus and soak in the college atmosphere. Enjoy lunch on the green (after the snow melts!), visit the campus art gallery, and take some time to stop by and visit with your favorite professors. Don’t forget to stop by the alumni services office and join your college’s association, too. Members often enjoy several perks, such as networking opportunities and special events. You might even be able to get a discount on your car insurance, cell phone, and other services. Above all else, celebrate your amazing accomplishment – you’ve earned it!