Senior Parents: Get ready for graduation!

Supporting your student during these last hectic months before graduation may feel more pressing than planning for graduation weekend itself, but it’s a good idea to think ahead. Prepare to have the best possible time at the grand event by following the tips below.

1. Book your hotel right away

With relatives and friends flooding in from around the country, your student’s college town will fill to bursting for graduation weekend. Make reservations right away to ensure you have a convenient place to stay so you don’t end up spending the whole weekend driving.

2. Make dinner reservations early

If you plan to celebrate your student’s accomplishment with lunch or dinner after the ceremony, make reservations as far in advance as possible. Your university should be able to provide information about ceremony length, but remember to allow plenty of buffer time. Your student will want to congratulate fellow graduates, say goodbye to favorite professors, and pose for the parent paparazzi (plus think of all the foot and car traffic after the ceremony!).

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

Your student may be so busy completing classes, updating his resume, and making post-graduation plans that a few graduation necessities might slip through the cracks. Ask 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. He may need to fill out a form to indicate his intent to graduate, order a cap and gown, and be 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 celebratory meals and receptions. While you’ll want to encourage your student to participate in a few events, don’t over schedule 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 wider range of emotions to choose from. He may ricochet between:

  • Fear or excitement about the future
  • Sadness about leaving a place where he’s comfortable and happy
  • Sadness about friends who are going separate ways
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Relief at finishing 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. Give him space if he needs it, and don’t be surprised if he’s a little volatile. Whether he has a clear path ahead of him, or is unsure what to do next, knowing that you support him will be a huge comfort going into this time of transition.