The Mainstream staff provide the following tips.
Disclaimer: We are not etiquette gurus.
Tip #1: Announcements vs. Invitations vs. Guest Limitations for Rain
Send out a “Look Who’s Graduating!” type of announcement to all of your loved ones, and in the announcement explain the school’s ticket limitations. That way, guests won’t get mad if they can’t be invited. Then send out a separate invitation. On the invitation to your UCC graduation, inform guests that if rain moves graduation inside of Jacoby, you may be required to limit your guests to only four and that the rain announcement may not come until an hour before graduation. Add a “rain plan” in your invitation. The rain plan should include a reminder that you’ll text your invited guests with the rain announcement as well as what they should do if they cannot get into Jacoby. For example, you could tell guests that they can watch a live feed of you graduating. Just make sure to assign one of your four allowed guests the job of creating that live feed. Or, ask guests to check out The Mainstream’s live feed on Facebook: Umpqua Community College Mainstream Newspaper.
Consider designating a place to meet up after graduation with your whole group of invited guests.
To pick your four guests in case of rain, consider the following criteria (some of which are tongue-in-cheek):
• Someone who has supported you financially and emotionally
• Someone who might support your future educational goals
• Someone who thought you would never make it for the gotcha factor
• The one you love the most. Maybe the cat that always loved you? Please do not actually bring your cat.
If that doesn’t work, you can always pull names out of a hat (after all, you’re going to have a funny flat one on your head).
Graduation announcements or invitations should have been sent out about four weeks before the ceremony. If you sent out invitations later, or still have to send out invitations, follow up with a call. If you need to know if guests are coming, ask them to RSVP and provide both an email and a phone number to call.
Tip #2: Graduation Hat (also called a mortarboard) and Tassel
These things are ridiculously hard to keep on your head. Purchase some bobby pins that match your hair color (because bobby pins don’t come in green to match the grad hat color). Then attach the bobby pin so that part of it is in your hair and part on the hat. Check the mirror to make sure that you don’t have wisps of hair sticking out. Local media may take and publish candid grad photos, and you probably don’t want to look unkempt on the front page of someone’s feed.
Put the tassel on your right side until the end of graduation and wait until the announcement to move your tassel to the left to show you have graduated. Watch your elbows when you move your tassel because you’ll be sitting really close to the graduate next to you. If you decide to throw your hat, again, be sure to avoid smacking the grads around you.
Caps can be decorated. Last year, some students painted thank you on the top flat section, others added decorations to reflect their personal culture, others memorialized a loved one, and some painted a degree name or glued on accessories which represented their future career.
Tip #3: the Stage
This is one time that you need be on time. Get into the grad lineup in the gym by 4 p.m. You can leave your personal belongings in the gym if necessary, but remember that the gym is only open for 30 minutes after graduation, and you will have to rush up there between a lot of people in order to get your purse or backpack before it is re-locked for the weekend. It might be better to leave your stuff with one of your friends.
You’ll be lined up and given a paper with your name to give to the speaker on the stage who will announce you as you march up to get your diploma. If you have an unusual name, add a phonetic spelling of your name as well to help the speaker.
Avoid talking while standing in the line to the stage. The audience around you is likely taping, and you don’t want to end up recorded on some random stranger’s video.
When you’re on stage, wait for your name to be called, then walk over to get your diploma and make sure to take your diploma with your left hand and shake the administrator’s hand with your right hand. (If it helps, your left hand is the one that makes a L between your pointer finger and your thumb when you hold your hand in front of you.) Then, turn and look at the audience for at least three full seconds while standing still so that your family and friends can take your photo without it ending up fuzzy.
You might want to remind your guests that children and photographers need to stay out of the area in front of the stage during the ceremony. And, if you have a happy dance you’re planning on doing, never grab a school board member, other administrator or anyone else on the graduation stage for a partner. Graduation is considered a dignified event, so keep that in mind while on stage.
Don’t forget to return to your row when you exit the stage and proceed all the way to the last available seat, then sit down.
Tip 4: Thank Yous
After graduation, hang out in front of Jacoby for a while to say your good byes or thank yous to teachers and family and friends. A thank you card to those who sent you gifts are almost always genuinely appreciated, they usually are reasonably priced and they are not highly labor-intensive.