Invitations! Gifts! Diplomas! Tassels! Caps and gowns! Graduation is an exciting moment for the graduate, their family and friends. This is a special time with smiles and celebration. Students take pictures for lasting memories as they put on their graduation regalia, enter the lineup area, receive their marching order card, and prepare to walk across the stage at their commencement ceremony. Praise is given to the well-deserved student for reaching this milestone, the graduate deserves accolades for earning their degree. It comes from a lot of hard work, sacrifice, late nights, and dedication! The celebration normally continues and leads to individual parties with loved ones.

I have walked in the shoes of a graduate. I know the challenges that one faces and experiences, excessively!  After going over graduation audits, checking degree plans, searching for course substitutions, pre-approval of transfer credit forms and official transcripts, I see the concerns of students on a daily basis, having 16 years of experience in the field of higher education. I have learned five important tips toward a successful graduation that I want to share with you.

Meet with your academic advisor every semester.

Typically, your college of choice will have an advisor available to help you stay on the right path. Get to know your advisor and build rapport with them. Set up appointments at least once a semester or each fiscal year to receive clearance/approval to register for your classes. Important: Be sure your advisor and the Registrar’s Office have your correct graduation date. Advisors help with keeping an eye on your upper-level hours, GPA, credit courses, and overall degree requirements. Things will run so much more smoothly if communication is open between student and advisor.

Follow your degree plan.

Once the student has declared their major, the degree plan that is provided to them should be followed thoroughly, unless approved courses are properly subbed. If a student wishes to have coursework considered from a different educational institution, they will need to submit the appropriate request and complete all of the necessary forms to do so.

Follow your graduation audit.

Your graduation audit is one last chance to look at the courses you still need in order to complete your degree, because it reminds you of all related hours needed to complete your program, required GPA, missing course substitutions, official CLEP scores, and any needed official transcripts from courses taken at other colleges. The audit typically has your catalog year, declared degree, major, and minor all listed together. Some even have your advisor’s name and a reminder to pay and apply for graduation if you missed the deadline. Your graduation should be a positive experience, so feel free to ask questions before submitting your audit plan back to your school’s Registrar’s Office. As written in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (KJV).

Apply for graduation by the deadline.

Be sure to pay and apply for graduation! Graduation applications help with processing as well as printing your name correctly in the commencement program, on the marching order card, and on your diploma. Legal documentation is required on all name changes. Applying by the deadline helps graduation coordinators confirm that your graduation date is correct in their database, as students do not always graduate as originally projected. Moreover, this process gives the department adequate time to calculate the student’s GPA to ensure enough honor sashes are on hand for the ceremony, as well as providing your school’s campus store enough time to order the right amount of caps, tassels, and gowns.

Know your important dates.

Know your important dates leading up to graduation. Do not miss your own rehearsal and graduation! You have worked too hard to let it pass you by. Print out your important dates and attach it somewhere you are certain to look often (like your refrigerator).  Remember to record all dates and deadlines in your cellphone or calendar (adding an alert would be a great idea!).

If you follow these tips, your graduation should be a smooth, easy experience that you will remember and cherish for the rest of your life!

UMHB seeks to give students an education for life and the experience of a lifetime. It may be a great fit for you! For more information, we invite you to visit our website, or stop by for a campus visit!