Julie Platt is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Writing at Michigan State University and a permanent author at GradHacker. You can follow her on twitter at @aristotlejulep.
I can hardly believe it; after ten straight years in graduate school, I will be graduating. There were definitely times in my graduate career when I thought this day wouldn't come, but it's just a few short weeks away. Graduation is a special event that calls for a bit of preparation, including some things you might not consider. Here are a few reminders.
Apply for graduation. This is generally the first step to putting things in motion, and it ensures that you won't be left out of the loop when your university begins sending you correspondence related to graduation. I found the link for applying for graduation on Michigan State's website, but you may need to get in touch with the registrar at your university.
Decide if you're going to walk. This was an especially difficult decision for me considering my family lives far away and I'm not actually defending my dissertation until a few weeks after commencement. However, I didn't walk for either of my master's degrees, so it seemed important to have this ceremony to commemorate so many years of hard work. I posed the question of walking to folks on social media, and I was advised by just about everyone that, yes, I should walk, because it would it give me a sense of closure on this chapter of my life. I was also reminded that graduation was really about me and my special moment and that I should ultimately decide whether I wanted to walk or not. I decided to do so.
If you're going to walk, decide what you're going to about regalia. Academic regalia is expensive even to rent, but if you're going to be employed at a university where you're expected to attend convocations and other formal events on a fairly regular basis, it might not be a bad idea to purchase regalia. You don't have to buy new either, as it is possible to find used regalia in good shape. Check out Erin Templeton's excellent ProfHacker post on academic regalia for more considerations.
Announce your graduation to those important to you. It may seem a little silly to do this for an advanced degree, but my family and I decided to order graduation announcements (just a few), to send to close family and friends. My cousins all got to announce their weddings and the births of their children, so I believe it's perfectly acceptable to announce what I see as more or less my first Big Life Event. Don't be afraid to do the same. Your family and friends will be pleased to hear your good news.
Above all, remember that it's your day and your celebration. As I mentioned above, you should do what makes you comfortable and happy, and if that includes walking, great. If not, that's great too. Mark your transition in a way that works for you. Congratulations!
Do you have any advice for those of us preparing to graduate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image by Flickr user carterse and used under a creative commons license]
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