Graduation Scoop Feb02

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Graduation Scoop

We’ve got college seniors and, frankly, we are scratching our heads trying to figure out where the past four years have gone.

Commencement on that beautiful green quad will be here before we know it and while there are many current unknowns (i.e., jobs after graduation), one thing that’s for certain is there are graduation events and celebrations to look forward to!

We know there’s some planning to do and things to organize, particularly if your kid’s college is not close to home. We’ve done some research and talked to some other college parents who have been through it. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Commencement Weekend Events: Check out the college website for commencement activities and schedules. Many colleges set up separate pages devoted to Commencement Weekend, so be sure to read up on the details and get familiar with the calendar of weekend events. Larger colleges and universities may have separate ceremonies for individual schools – i.e. Arts & Sciences and Engineering, for example, may have separate commencement ceremonies. Some schools have one big commencement event and separate ceremonies by major.  There may also be a Baccalaureate ceremony the day before graduation, which is traditionally a more intimate event with inspirational reflections and speeches.
  • Hotel Reservations: BOOK YOUR HOTEL ROOMS NOW for commencement weekend if you have a graduating senior! If you have a junior, start researching and make your reservations as soon as the hotels will allow. A couple of years ago, we got the ‘book early’ tip from another parent so we smartly reserved our hotels this past July (the summer before our kids’ senior year). Very glad we did because as of October, the hotel closest to campus was sold out. We’ve heard stories about a school in the Midwest that encourages its freshmen parents to make graduation reservations — four years in advance! So, if you haven’t already, talk to other parents whose kids go to the same school and do some online research about when you should reserve rooms. Check the Visiting Campus and Commencement pages of the college’s website to find hotels that are near campus and offer special discounts to students and their families. Consider who will be coming with you when deciding on the appropriate hotel (see below if your graduate’s grandparents will be joining in).

Don’t delay. It’s all about supply and demand. Think about how many hotels there are near campus and how many family members attend college graduation. Many local hotels simply cannot accommodate the numbers. As a result, homeowners in these areas often rent out their homes during this time. If you’ve got a big family, renting a home near campus might be just what you need. Check out or

  • Additional Reservations: Make reservations for rental cars and restaurants. The popular restaurants near campus will book up quickly – again, think about how many people are planning to celebrate with their graduate.
  • Grandparents & Graduation: Another friend gave us some excellent tips about sharing graduation with your own parents. It’s always wonderful to have grandparents along to share family milestones but there are a few things to think about in advance that will make the weekend less stressful and more enjoyable for all.

1.  Try and find accommodations with comfortable rooms, and a lobby or club floor where grandparents can relax while you may be running around or attending events that don’t involve them.

2.  Find out ahead of time about parking, drop-off sites and seating for grandparents with disabilities or those who have difficulty walking long distances. Sometimes you can obtain special parking permits and tickets for handicapped seating (very important for graduations held in venues with stadium seating and lots of steps).

3.  As mentioned, many universities have a general “university” graduation ceremony followed by separate ceremonies by “school” or major.  Plan for seating and transportation from one to the other.

4.  Plan ahead for the weather, whether it be pouring rain or blazing sunshine. Weather will impact clothing packed and extras needed – like umbrellas.

Our knowsy friend told us: “Take the time to plan ahead and you’ll avoid many last-minute hassles and have more time to enjoy this amazing milestone in your kid’s life!”

What she hasn’t told us is how we are going to get through the weekend without a case of Kleenex.


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