Graduation Tips for OU’s Nontraditional Students


Graduation Tips for OU’s Nontraditional Students

The day has come. Whether you’re a military student, a working parent or someone who returned to school after quitting years ago, all your hard work and sacrifice has paid off. You’re finally graduating.

While graduation is an exciting and monumental event, coming to campus for convocation and commencement can be a bit overwhelming—especially for online students who have never stepped foot on campus.

With the help of our advisors at the OU Extended Campus College of Professional and Continuing Studies, we came up with a list of tips to make graduation day go as smoothly as possible.

Do the prep work

Hopefully, you’ve already RSVP’d with your name and guest count. If you haven’t, do it now. If you’re bringing guests with disabilities, including those who can’t easily go up or down stairs, please let someone know so special accommodations can be arranged.

Take your gown out of the package now, not the day of the event. Makes sure it fits! You don’t want to find out at convocation that it’s several sizes too small. Keep in mind the gowns are wrinkled when they come out of the packaging and need plenty of time to air out.

“Make sure you steam your gown or spray some wrinkle release on it,” said graduate advisor Lindsey Gunderson.

Dry cleaning services can also help make sure your gown is in pristine shape if you prepare ahead of time.

Show up on time

All graduates should be at the convocation location no later than 30 minutes prior to the ceremony on Saturday. It’s also a bad idea to show up too early.

“Remember, every college is celebrating on the same day,” said graduate advisor Michelle Shults. “If you get there too early, there will be another group in the venue.”

Check in when you arrive

When you arrive, there will be a check-in table and a room for graduates off to the side. Your family can go find seats while you get ready for the event.

“It’s a good idea to leave your purse and other belongings with a family member,” said undergraduate advisor Jennifer Gatlin. “There won’t be a secure place to keep them.”

The check-in table is also the place to go if you have questions, problems or other issues on graduation day.

Dress appropriately and plan for mishaps

When you choose your attire for the big day, be aware that you will be seen from knees down from the stage. This may not be the best time to wear mismatched socks or sweatpants. You also may want to choose an outfit with pockets as your gown doesn’t have pockets.

Caps and gowns can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to throw a few bobby pins and safety pins in your pocket just in case.

“We will be there to help with wardrobe issues,” Gatlin said. “We usually have a few pins on hand, but it’s good to have a spare.”

Gatlin said for those with hoods (worn by graduate students and undergraduate students with distinction) double-sided tape is the best way to keep slippery robes in place when you walk across the stage.

Many students decorate their caps, so use your creativity and write a colorful message or create a work of art on your mortarboard.

Plan to see campus

When you’re looking for parking, don’t worry about getting a spot right near the venue. Consider parking at a distance so you can walk around campus and get plenty of iconic cap and gown photos.

If time allows, plan to visit the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History or the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Other things to see include Heisman Row, the Switzer Center and the recently installed statues of OU President David Boren and former head football coach Bob Stoops.

“Take time to meet your classmates and professors, and say hello to your advisors. Also, don’t be shy about getting on stage and taking pictures. There will be a professional photographer there, but take as many pictures as you want,” Gatlin said. “The biggest thing is to just enjoy it and have fun.”

One last thing to note, you won’t get your diploma when you walk across the stage. That process takes about three months. Your degree will, however, appear on your transcript in three to eight weeks.

If you’re graduating soon, you might be wondering where to go from here. Be sure to check out what OU Career Services can do for you after you walk across the stage.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.