By Douglas Fehlen
1. Make sure you have completed graduation requirements.
Make an appointment with an academic advisor to confirm that you're eligible to graduate. Review your transcript with this school representative, ensuring that any credits you earned at another institution have transferred. In addition, verify that any temporary grades have been changed by a professor. You don't want an oversight to jeopardize your graduation.
2. Complete an application for graduation.
Institutions typically require students to apply for graduation through their respective college or department. If you miss the deadline for this paperwork, you may be able to petition your college to be added to the graduation list. Note that you'll likely need to complete two applications if you've earned a double major or a minor in addition to your degree.
3. RSVP for your commencement ceremony.
Marching in your school's commencement ceremony is a great way to cap your college career. Parents and other family members will appreciate the opportunity to share in this moment celebrating your impressive accomplishment. Don't miss your opportunity to participate by overlooking your school's RSVP date for commencement.
4. Pay any outstanding expenses due to your college.
Colleges will not typically release your diploma or official transcript if there are outstanding fees on your student account. Remit payment for tuition bills, housing costs, library charges and any other financial responsibilities. Delinquent payments may eventually be subject to expensive collections fees.
5. Reinforce connections with professors.
Use your final college term to touch base with professors and other faculty members with whom you have a strong connection. These relationships can yield very tangible benefits, including recommendations and links to attractive job opportunities. Instructors and academic advisors can also become lifelong mentors.
6. Make an appointment with the financial aid office.
Some schools require students with financial aid to complete an exit interview. Individuals learn how they can responsibly meet their financial obligations. Even if your school doesn't have this requirement, meet with the financial aid office if you have loans to be sure you understand your post-graduation responsibilities.
7. Make arrangements for the commencement ceremony.
When the time comes, secure your cap, gown, hood or any other ceremonial garb required for commencement. Typically arrangements can be made through the campus bookstore. You may also at this time obtain graduation announcements and any other materials marking your moment of accomplishment.
8. Finish strong.
You're nearing the finish line of your college career, but don't ease up now. Taking it easy over a final semester has caused many a student to do badly in classes and even delay graduation. Don't let that happen to you. Instead give your final classes adequate attention so that you can perform your best.
9. Visit the career center.
During your final term, take advantage of the services offered by the career counseling office at your school. You may be able to get help with your resume, learn about job opportunities you're qualified for or network with connected alumni. Use this time to get a jump on your job hunt.
10. Monitor your student account.
Colleges typically send out graduates' diplomas 4-6 weeks after commencement. During this time, schools verify final grades for students' last semester and confirm that there aren't any outstanding issues with an academic record. Monitor your grades on a school's intranet site and be proactive about any issues that arise.