The Breakdown To The Perfect Graduation Ceremony | Tips & Tricks

A Graduation Ceremony

A graduation ceremony is a significant event for students, teachers, and parents to celebrate one of the milestones in life.

Students celebrate having met the graduation requirements that were created by their local board of education. While parents rejoice over their children’s achievements, teachers rejoice over the fruits of their labor.

How do you conduct a graduation ceremony? The first step in conducting a graduation ceremony is to create a checklist for logistics, materials, people, and guests. Graduation is a milestone, therefore not a one-person event. Teams should work in sync to make the whole event a success.   

This checklist will help you plan more efficiently and ensure that you have everything you need for this big day.

Planning A Graduation Ceremony

The ceremony is done to recognize students who have completed all of the requirements for high school graduation. They will receive a diploma. Graduation requirements vary from one state to the next.

It also depends from one school district to the next within the same state.

During the 1990s, the accountability movement led to more stringent requirements for high school graduation. It includes the creation of state tests that students must pass to receive a traditional diploma.

States have created a series of diplomas in response to the demands of some workplaces. High school graduates can demonstrate mathematical and language skills necessary for success in higher education and the workplace.

In some states, differentiated diplomas and certificates have replaced the traditional diploma awarded to all students.

The traditional diploma, diplomas for outstanding students whose handicapping conditions prohibit them from meeting all graduation requirements.

Certificates of attendance for students who attended classes but did not complete all graduation requirements are among the new diplomas.

High schools try to explicitly designate the expertise and skills of students who have completed the study. They start by replacing traditional diplomas with awards that distinguish students based on their achievement.


1. Timing

It can be challenging but choose a convenient date for at least half of the attendees. Make a date and time for the ceremony that is convenient for you.

The ceremony should be held in the evening so that friends and family can attend without having to miss work.

The ceremony will most likely be around 45 minutes, depending on the number of students and how elaborate the ceremony is. If classes are in session, here are among the questions you need to consider.

  • How crowded will the school be?
  • Will there be a lot of noise in the background?
  • Will any school bells be ringing during the ceremony?

Graduation ceremonies on your campus should be held about two weeks before the next start period. Existing students are encouraged to finish the High School Completion program, allowing new students to enroll. As a result, students can graduate from high school and enroll at your institution without difficulty.

2. Size

Among the initial decisions, you will have to make the size of your ceremony. What is the estimated number of students who will be honored at the ceremony?

It can be any size, even if it’s just one student! Will the ceremony be one-of-a-kind? Or will it take place at the same time as your career school’s graduation?

3. Location

Determine the location of the commencement ceremony. The venue must be large enough to hold the number of people. Consider the graduates’ families and friends. To accommodate their visitors, it’s a good idea to estimate 3 or 4 seats per graduate.

4. Parking

Make sure there are enough empty parking spaces for all of your graduates at the ceremony. This part is particularly crucial if the ceremony is large or coincides with your career college’s graduation ceremony.

People And Guests

Event coordinator

Make sure to speak with your school’s event coordinator or someone who plans events for your campus. They might offer you some helpful advice or point you in the right direction.


Invite someone to talk to any prospective students about the HSC program or your school’s career programs. While this is a celebration, you can also use it as a word-of-mouth tool to promote the program.

Keynote Speaker

Invite the person you’d like to be the keynote speaker to a special dinner. It could be the University President, the Director of Education, or even an employee.

If you’d like someone from the school to speak with you, contact your Partner Solutions Manager.


Cap And Gown

For the HSC ceremony, you will use the college’s cap and gowns. If the school has two colors, HSC students will wear the secondary color to distinguish themselves.

If you don’t have enough gowns for your graduates, do not worry. Set up a cap and gown station after the ceremony. Students will surely take pictures in their graduation attire with their diplomas.

Make the photos look professional. Find a blank wall or make a backdrop with a white sheet in a well-lit area.


You may hand out placeholder diplomas – a rolled-up sheet of blank paper tied with ribbon. Both can ensure a smooth ceremony. Please encourage your students to attend graduation with their diploma holders.

After the ceremony, students will take pictures with their actual diploma holder with their family and friends.


1. Chairs

Ascertain that there are enough chairs for the graduates and their guests. You may need to borrow some from a nearby classroom.

And if the ceremony is larger, you may reserve chairs from the school. Set aside a row of chairs in the front for your graduates and special guests.

2. Podium

Obtain a podium for the various speakers to use while they deliver their presentations. You can use a table if you don’t already have one on campus.

3. Tables

Get tables if you need them, especially if you’ll serve food or need a place to lay out all of the diplomas.

4. Catering

After the ceremony, a celebratory cake or other dessert is a good touch. Light snacks and beers are also available. If you’re providing food, make sure you’ve got the right tableware to serve and eat it with.

Culinary students at schools with culinary programs often prepare a meal and a cake to celebrate and demonstrate their catering abilities.

5. PA System

If possible, get a microphone and speakers, depending on the size of the room.

Day Of The Ceremony

Location & Timing

  • Place a plain reserved sign on the table so that visitors do not sit there. Allow for an early arrival of graduates so they can get their cap and gown, settle in, and so on.

  • Place signs throughout the school so that visitors can quickly locate the ceremony location.

  • Make sure there are enough seats in the front of the room for graduates.


  1. Music – Compile your favorite songs in a playlist, and don’t forget to include the graduation song! When students receive their diplomas, have a sound system ready to play the music.

  2. Photos – Make arrangements for someone to photograph the ceremony both during and after it. It doesn’t have to be a formal position – feel free to ask someone on the day.

    But it is nice to have someone dedicated to photographing the event, so you know there will be photographic mementos. Ensure that the photographer captures each student’s diploma handover.

  3. Guests – Invite students’ family and friends and any other important supporters to their academic success. It’s also important to invite your internal employees.

    They can use this time to talk to graduates about their career goals and enroll them in your school. Extend invitations within the school to:

    • Campus President

    • Director of Admissions, Admissions Officers, Director of Education

    • Faculty or staff with connections to the graduates or who will be their future instructors
  1. Invitations – Make invitations for graduates to hand out to friends and family members who wish to attend. Make sure the invite includes the date, time, and location.

  2. Program – Include a rough timeline of events, the names of the speakers, and the names of the graduates. As a starting point, you can use this graduation ceremony program template.

    This document is also available in the LPP’s toolkits section. Before the ceremony, print the program for graduates and visitors and place it on chairs.

  3. Media Alert – Invite local media stations to cover the ceremony and publicize it in the community. It is an excellent way to raise program awareness and gain media attention, a template for gaining press attention and spreading the word about the program.

  4. Practice – Plan a walkthrough for your students, especially if they’ll be walking down an aisle. Sitting or standing in unison, or something similar.

  5. Announcement Poster – Make a sign for your classroom that announces the upcoming graduation ceremony. It will give graduates and students a deadline to meet.

    It can motivate students to work hard to graduate in time to attend the upcoming ceremony. You can also distribute flyers throughout the school to publicize the HSC graduation ceremony. You can also invite college students, faculty, and staff to attend.

During The Ceremony

  1. Speakers – The president has the option of making opening comments and delivering a speech. Because you know your students better than anyone else, you can also say a few lines.

  2. Students who plan to enroll or have enrolled in college should be recognized by standing up during the ceremony. It could also be included in the program. Students with a GPA of at least 3.5 should be highlighted. You can give them a ribbon to pin on their own.

    You can use whatever the college provides for such a distinction – some schools use cords. If time permits, have your graduates take the stage and say a few words.

  3. Program – Before the graduation, place printed programs on chairs for the guests.

  4. Recruiting – Around the celebration area, leave some information about the HSC program or the career programs. A brochure template can be found in the LPP.

Wearing the Academic Regalia


It’s proper for a candidate to wear the gown appropriate for the diploma being conferred at ceremonies where diplomas are conferred.


Academic regalia wearers always wear their caps in academic processions and during degree conferral ceremonies. Men may remove their caps during prayer, the national anthem, and the alma mater.

Aside from those, they can also remove their caps at times designated by the university – baccalaureate sermon or the commencement address. It is customary to perform all of these tasks in unison.

As a result, each ceremony’s plan should be meticulously prepared ahead of time. Participants should be informed ahead of time.

Someone (usually the presiding officer) should be assigned to provide instructions on removing and replacing the caps. The tassel’s position on a mortarboard is not set in stone.

During commencement exercises, many institutions have adopted a practice. Candidates must wear their tassels on the right front side before diplomas are conferred. Shift them to the left when diplomas are conferred. In some ways, this custom serves as a stand-in for individual hooding.


If a person has multiple academic degrees, he or she is only allowed to wear one hood at a time. The hood worn should be appropriate for the gown and represent the wearer’s highest degree earned.

According to tradition, a candidate for a degree should not wear the hood of that degree until it is awarded.

This rule still applies to those who will be individually hooded during the commencement ceremony. The hoods should not be worn during the preliminary academic procession.

Virtual Graduation Ceremony Tips

Spring commencement ceremonies are being canceled at colleges and universities across the country. Nobody can deny the logic: bringing such a large group together amid a pandemic is dangerous.

The good thing is that graduates don’t have to give up the tradition when using modern technology and imagination. They don’t have to

. Rituals that give a sense of meaning and community are more important than ever before, especially in these turbulent times.

After all, commencement ceremonies are much more than the physical events, stages, and silly hats and gowns at their core.

They are meant to recognize graduates’ achievements, to commemorate a special occasion. They are also meant to welcome young people into the broader community of citizens.

Graduates this year face unprecedented challenges as their studies are disrupted. Their social lives are disrupted, and the recession abruptly clouds their job prospects.

What should have been the most exciting few months has become a time of chaos and uncertainty. They deserve not only what they have accomplished but also advice and support for the future.

In a typical commencement, the commencement speaker is the honored guest. The honored guest is often a public figure, politician, or celebrity. He/she shares wisdom and perspective gleaned from their own life experience.

The podium and platform may be gone this year, but the crowd remains. Indeed, the audience for high schools, colleges, and universities that take advantage of this opportunity may be larger than ever.

How would a reimagined commencement take shape? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Go for the virtual and the visual

Send graduates an invitation with a date, time, and a link. Send a mortarboard and an inflatable beach ball as well. Stream the ceremony live on the internet.

Invite your speakers to use graphics in their presentations to make them more dynamic than usual. This year could be a fantastic opportunity for directors and visual artists to deliver creative and compelling speeches.

2. Make it a team effort

After all, graduation day is about the students, so colleges should start by soliciting their input. Spend 10 minutes on TikTok if you doubt this generation’s imagination and creativity.

3. Divert the budget for the event to high-end donations

A virtual ceremony is less costly. Consider allocating this year’s events budget to various civic initiatives to honor what this class has gone through.

For example, assist the most vulnerable students in repaying their student loans to participate in the economy.

Alternatively, offer a living stipend in exchange for a year of domestic public service and challenge other universities to match it. It is a sort of AmeriCorps for the Class of 2020.

4. Encourage the community to participate in the event

The college usually invites graduation speakers. It’s anyone’s game this year. Imagine a social media movement called #deargraduatesof2020.

People worldwide share advice and show graduating students in different countries that we have their backs.

It is not your task to find your way in the world. It is your task to remake the world that you will encounter. We’ll soon be looking to this year’s graduates to assist us in remaking the troubled world that awaits them.

Sending them off properly is our way to inspire them to keep moving forward.


I urge you to consider changes as schools implement this year’s graduation plan. Not just for this year’s students, but for future generations.

Everything you do now will affect the future success of your school. That includes how you treated graduation ceremonies.

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