After years of intellectual rigor and duress, the long-awaited day has come: the day your parents can finally cut you off. Well, financially, at least.

Oh yes, it’s also your college graduation – congrats!

For many months now, you have been overwhelmed by the anxiety of post-grad life. Since winter break, well-meaning adults and random strangers alike have been asking you very personal, prying questions. To be specific: “Do you know what you’re doing after graduation?” and “Do you have a boyfriend?”

No, neither actually. Thanks for asking.

It’s as if these people can’t remember the horror of their own inner monologues before their graduations many eons ago: “Where should I to live? Who am I going to live with? Was I supposed to get a boyfriend?? How do you find a job anyways?!  What is the meaning of life and WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD is my Netflix password?!?”

Or something like that.

Perhaps you were so stressed out by this barrage of questions and concerns for the future that you forgot to deal with the very real, very present details of graduation (Honors chords? What are those anyways?).

Before the job, the roommates and the whole “significant other” shebang, first comes the graduation ceremony.

Here to help with some of the more manageable details of your future, this list will provide answers to your most pertinent questions on graduation day. For instance: Should I let grandma kiss me on the cheek even though her lipstick always leaves very visible, potentially permanent red stains?

The answer is yes.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Robes, Sashes and Other Things that Indicate Academic Success
Chances are, your school will host some sort of “Graduation Fair,” where you will be able to survey all the graduation gear while simultaneously contemplating whether or not you can still tack on a victory lap next semester.

At the fair, you’ll learn many important things such as your head size and what time you should be at the graduation ceremony (hint: it’s early). This is also a good chance to check out sashes, graduation rings and overpriced diploma frames. Though this vast assortment of graduation goodies may seem intimidating, make sure to check it out in person, because you can always order things later online. Just tie down the essentials: your robe and your cap.

As for honor chords, emails regarding those will probably come your way sometime mid-April or mid-May. Other fun accessories, like leis, can also be ordered closer to graduation.

If you missed the fair, like countless other seniors in self-denial, check out your university’s bookstore or website to get information on ordering your graduation gear.

Graduation Dinner
With several weeks (maybe a month or so) still ahead of you until graduation, you’ve got all the time in the world to plan a graduation dinner right? Wrong. Already, a slew of overeager parents have booked up many of the most desirable restaurants in your area.

If your graduation dinner is going to be a big one (including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and miscellaneous estranged relatives), take the time to call around and figure out a location that will fit this herd of human beings that you call family.

For smaller groups, feel free to check out websites such as Open Table to make quick and easy reservations.


Remember, though: the most popular restaurants will fill up quickly, so make reservations ahead of time no matter your party size.

The Perfect Graduation Ensemble
As your graduation photos will surely survive long-after Facebook and Instagram cease to exist, it’s important to wear an outfit that you won’t completely despise in future years. Though this may be a nearly impossible feat, what does it mean? Two words: Classic simplicity.

For many girls, a simple white dress is the perfect solution. White is a great option because no matter the color of your robe, it won’t show through. Furthermore, white denotes innocence and purity, and we could all use a bit more of that after four rambunctious years in college.

For guys, the classic suit and tie is by far the best option. Yes, you may be sweating profusely under your robe, but it could be worse. You could be sweaty and underdressed.

Taking Photos
In order to survive the photo marathon called graduation, start smiling now.  The sooner you strengthen those mouth muscles, the better off you’ll be in five weeks.

Without question, pictures will be taken both before and after the ceremony.  Get as many adorable photos with your friends and roommates before heading to your separate satellite ceremonies and suffering from consequent “cap-hair.”

Also, map out a strategy for getting photos at the most iconic spots on campus. Though you might have to battle it out with other students for these photo ops, just do it. Even if you don’t get your diploma, you’ll have more likes on your profile picture than anybody else. 

After the ceremony, make extra time to take photos not only with your friends, but with your family as well. Nothing says academic success like your cap and gown, so let your family bask in that pride as well. After all, they somehow managed to raise a human being mature and intelligent enough to graduate college.

That’s an accomplishment all its own.

Graduation Ceremony
The phrase, “The early bird catches the worm,” has never stood truer than in the face of an impending graduation ceremony. In this particular case, however, this beloved saying translates directly to: “The early parent catches the seat in the shade with the best view of the stage.”

Graduation ceremonies take hours, especially when you have a long-winded speaker or an exceptionally large graduating class. Make sure your family arrives in the early AM to grab the best spots to watch the ceremony, taking into account both their comfort and ability to snap pictures of you grabbing your diploma. 

In terms of your own ceremony success, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and makeup that won’t run down your face in case you experience heat-induced sweat or your mother’s tears of joy. And in the case of your own tears, just remember: everything in moderation.

For many of us, graduation will be one of the most wonderful ceremonies we will ever partake in. For those of us who never get married, it may be the only one. That being said, this day is yours. Enjoy it.