5 things parents need to know about college graduation

By Evanne Montoya

While getting your student to graduate may be more pressing than plans for graduation weekend itself, it’s actually a good time to start thinking ahead. Take a moment to prepare yourself for the grand event with the tips below.

1. Book your hotel right away

With loved ones flooding in from around the country, plus the spillover from nearby schools, it’s likely that your student’s college town will be full to bursting for graduation weekend. Make reservations right away to ensure you have a nearby place to stay so that you don’t end up spending your whole weekend driving. Find hotels near campus for graduation.

2. Make dinner reservations early

If you’re planning on celebrating your student’s grand accomplishment with a nice dinner after the ceremony, make reservations at least a few weeks ahead of time. Your university might have information about ceremony length available, but remember to give yourself plenty of buffer time. Your student will want to congratulate fellow graduates, say goodbye to favorite professors, and of course pose for the parent paparazzi before leaving (plus think of all the foot and car traffic after the ceremony!)

3. Gently remind your student about the tasks he needs to complete

In this busy time, your student may be so busy with completing classes, updating his resume, and making post-graduation plans that a few of the graduation necessities might slip through the cracks. Ask your student if he’s received any communication from the university about what he needs to do to make sure he’s a part of the graduation ceremony. Chances are he already has!

Over the next few months your student may have to complete a number of steps to be a part of graduation, including filling out a form to indicate his intent to graduate, ordering the cap and gown, and making sure all of his student accounts are up-to-date. Check in every few weeks to make certain these tasks aren’t forgotten!

4. Don’t feel like you have to attend every graduation event

Some universities offer a multitude of brunches, dinners, celebrations and get-togethers. While you’ll want to encourage your student to participate in a few events, don’t overschedule yourselves or your student. Remember to factor in time for your student to pack, say goodbye to friends, and unwind from a busy final exam period.

5. Be ready to support your student

While you may be full of sunny emotions at your student’s graduation — pride at his accomplishments, joy at the prospect of an end to tuition bills — your student has a whole range of emotions to choose from. In fact, he may be a little undecided on where to land.

Possible emotions your graduate may be going through include:
• Fear about the future
• Sadness about leaving a place where he’s become comfortable
• Sadness about friends who are going separate ways
• A sense of accomplishment
• Relief at having finished his finals, thesis, or essays
• Stress about moving home, preparing for next steps, or packing

The best way to support your student is to listen carefully and be sensitive to his current situation. Don’t be shy about telling your student how proud you are of his accomplishments, and reminding him of your confidence in his abilities.

At the same time, pay close attention to how he appears to be feeling. Be ready to give him space if he needs it, and don’t be surprised if he’s a little stressed.

Whether he has a long path already set out before him, or is unsure of what to do next, knowing that you support him will be a huge comfort as he faces what is sure to be a big transition.