How to Prepare for Graduation: A Graduation Checklist
Preparing for graduation can seem overwhelming. In addition to finals, college or career applications, and an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty, you must also be sure you have completed all of your steps for graduation. Although graduation tasks can seem endless, there are many resources available to help you along the way, including your parents and academic advisors. Make sure you don’t miss any crucial steps by following our graduation checklist for ideas of how to prepare for graduation. Always work closely with your school counselor to find out exact dates and deadlines for your school.


4-6 Months Before:

  • Meet with Academic Advisor to Review Degree Plan. Seniors need to work closely with their advisors to be sure they are on the correct path for graduation and know the graduation requirements. Notify your counselor if there are any chances to your course selections.

  • Apply for Graduation. Complete your graduation application to ensure you’re on the list. Print your name exactly as you want it to appear on your diploma, and register to participate in the ceremony. Most schools will ask a graduation fee that must be paid when you submit your application, and you may also need to fill out a Graduation Survey. Your school will audit your transcripts to verify you are eligible for graduation. If you still have courses, be sure to work closely with your academic advisor to ensure you remain eligible.

3 Months Before:

  • Order Cap and Gown. Close to graduation, your school will schedule a time for you to be fitted and order your gradation cap and gown. When choosing your gown size, the length should be at least 1” off the floor to prevent tripping on the gown.

  • Order Class Ring and Graduation Invitations (optional). A class ring in an emblem of the time spent on your education. When you order your cap and gown, other vendors will also be available so that you can order your class ring and your graduation announcement and invitations. The school’s announcement will include your school's embossed logo and school colors. There are also cheaper alternatives through many custom signs companies.

  • Graduation Photos. Schedule your graduate photos so your pictures arrive in time to send out invitations. Your graduate portraits should be mailed with the invitations/announcements, and can also be placed on your graduation signs.

2-6 Weeks Before:

  • Pick Up Graduation Attire and Invitations. Your gradation cap and gown, invitations, and class ring will soon arrive. Some items will be mailed directly to you; others will be available at the school. As everything begins to arrive, be sure to check that all items are included, nothing is damaged, and that everything fits correctly.

  • Complete All School Requirements. Most schools will require you to submit any projects prior to graduation. You will also need to complete an Exit Interview if you have any student loans. Also, make sure all library debts or other school debts are paid.

  • Mail Graduation Announcement and Invitations. All invitations should be mailed at least 2 weeks before the ceremony. Some may need to be mailed earlier to accommodate out-of-town guests. Expect graduation gifts to start arriving.

  • Graduation Party Decorations. List your graduation party ideas, choose your party theme, and order your graduation decorations. Order custom graduation banners for your family to hold up during graduation or to hang at your graduation party. Personalized graduation banners can be designed online and can include pictures, school colors, and school mascots.

1 Day Before:

  • Prepare for the Commencement Ceremony. The day before graduation, make sure you have everything you need for the ceremony. Place all the items together so everything is easy to find. This includes:

    1. Cap and Gown

    2. Tassel

    3. Proper Attire (to wear under gown)

    4. Name Card (with pronunciation marks)

    5. Graduation Ceremony Tickets

    6. Directions & Schedule of Events

  • Graduation Party Decor. Start cooking graduation party food that can be refrigerated overnight and start the graduation party decorations. Place a graduation sign in your yard to announce your graduation and hang your graduation banners ahead of time. This will help get you excited for the big day!

Graduation Day!

  • Convocation Brunch. Most schools will offer a Graduation Brunch or breakfast before the graduation ceremony to honor the graduates and allow guests to tour the school.

  • Commencement Rehearsal & Ceremony. Be sure to arrive to your graduation rehearsal on time, and arrive early to the commencement ceremony. Smile for pictures and take this time to reflect on the great years you’ve had with your fellow students.

  • Graduation Party! Enjoy this time with your friends and family. Graduation is a great achievement. As a memento, have guests write a special message on your graduation signs.

2-4 Months After Graduation:

  • Order Ceremony Video and Photos.

  • Print Unofficial Transcripts (to use when applying for jobs).

  • Receive Your Official Diploma.
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