The Graduation Planner: A 6-Month Guide

Graduation day is just around the corner. You’re anxious, nervous and excited all at the same time because soon, you’ll walk off the stage with a diploma in hand. But before you put on a cap and gown, make sure you’re in the clear to graduate.

We’ve put together a handy pre-graduation checklist to make sure all the important tasks are taken care of before your graduation day.

graduation checklist

6 Months Before

  • Do you have all of the credits needed to graduate? Start checking, double-checking and triple-checking your degree audit. This is imperative to earning your degree. Talk to your adviser to make sure you are on track to graduate from your program on time. If you’re missing any credits, see if you can make up for it through winter, summer or online classes. These off-season courses are typically shorter and more intensive.
  • Apply for graduation. If you don’t, you’ll likely have to pay a fee or not graduate.
  • Don’t have any plans on what to do with that new degree? Don’t waste any more time. Get to know Career Services. These career experts will help you come up with career goals and a plan to execute them.

graduation checklist

4 – 5 Months Before

  • Get your resume ready. Yes, you still have several months before graduation and you probably want to focus on getting school done first. But make your resume a priority because once you’re out of college and you need to start paying for your student loans, you’ll need a job. Talk to Career Services about how to write a resume, cover letter and portfolio for that first job out of college.
  • Network, network, network. As a student, you’re expected to network and schmooze to make connections for future employment opportunities. Turn to your professors because they likely know a lot of industry people. Look through the alumni database and see where people are currently working. Reach out to them through phone or meet up to ask for career advice. Attend career fairs, networking events hosted by your school or professional organization and be sure to bring a copy of your resume and business card.
  • With that resume ready, start applying for jobs. Depending on when you graduate and your industry, different employers hire at different times. For example, jobs that require extensive training will recruit in early fall. Jobs that don’t require training recruit later in the year. That’s why doing your research early on is key. Just because you haven’t graduated yet doesn’t mean you can’t apply. If your future employer wants you, there’s a chance they’ll work with you and your graduation date.

graduation checklist

2 – 3 Months Before

  • Receive exit counseling with your school’s financial aid office. If you have student loans, it’s almost payback time. Most student loan repayments begin six months after graduation.
  • Order your cap, gown and accolades like cords or sashes. Check with your college for the regalia order deadline.
  • Call your family and see how many tickets need to be ordered for commencement.
  • Update your permanent address in order to receive your diploma, any refunds and alumni information.
  • Finalize any outstanding work that could stop graduation. If you have credits that still need to be transferred, resolve the issue now. It typically requires paperwork, an official transcript and appropriate review. It could take a few weeks.
  • Don’t hit your senior slide just yet! Study hard for your final exams. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

graduation checklist

1 Month Before

  • Check your account balance and pay all outstanding charges on your student account. If you have scholarships that will still be in effect after graduation, make sure to notify financial aid. There’s a chance you will receive a check for remaining scholarship money or it could also be allocated back to the scholarship fund.
  • Be sure to pick up commencement tickets and your cap and gown.
  • Do you know where commencement is happening? Get directions to the venue along with the time and place all graduates are supposed to report. Typically, you’ll need to arrive an hour before commencement begins.
  • Get ready to walk across the stage with confidence and a smile. You worked hard. Be proud of everything you accomplished in order to get where you are today. Remember to thank those who helped you along the way. You did it!

graduation planner

This is just a general guideline for soon-to-be college graduates who need a little direction. Deadlines all depend on which college you attend.