Whether or not you have a student graduating this semester, it is important to know what to expect at commencement when the time comes. What’s the difference between commencement and graduation? Technically, ‘graduation’ is the completion of all the requirements for a degree. Commencement is the name of the ceremony that recognizes the graduation from the university.
Commencement is the pinnacle of a student’s college career and the beginning of their professional life. For those of you attending the ceremony on April 28, congratulations! It’s truly a special moment when your son or daughter will walk across the stage to be recognized and join over 80,000 of our Grand Valley alumni.
As a parent you may have some questions about the commencement process. Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions:
1. When will students purchase their caps and gowns?
Students should attend Grad Fest on April 16-19. This is where they will order and receive their caps and gowns, tickets for the ceremony and instructions for the day of commencement. They can also join the Alumni Association and participate in the tradition of supporting the Student Legacy scholarship.
2. When we attend commencement, where do we park?
There are various parking structures near the Van Andel Arena, or you can park for free on Grand Valley’s Pew Campus. This is just a 5-10 minute walk from the arena. See a map of available parking, including parking for those with disabilities.
3. What do we do after the ceremony?
We recommend that you pre-arrange a meeting spot outside of the arena with your family after the ceremony. Many families meet at a restaurant in the area for lunch and our emeritus parents (those who’ve been there) strongly suggest that graduating families make reservations. See our list of local dining options.
For those parents who don’t have students graduating this semester, here are some things to consider as you look ahead to your own celebrations:
Remind your son or daughter that they need to fill out an application for graduation prior to the semester they intend to graduate.
You can help facilitate your son or daughter’s academic progress by encouraging them to meet regularly with their academic advisor who will assist them in staying on the right path to degree completion.
Also, talk with your student about building a relationship with GVSU Career Services to help prepare them for interviews, internships, résumé writing and job searches.
When commencement day arrives for your family, your son or daughter will become a Laker for a lifetime as one of Grand Valley’s alumni. Encourage your son or daughter to get involved with the Alumni Association as it provides great opportunities to network, give back, and stay connected to the university that helped to provide the foundation for their adult lives.
Alumni give back to Grand Valley in many ways and keep our university and the value of our degrees strong. We look forward to having your families be a part of this most important tradition. If you have additional questions about commencement, please visit their website or call our office at (616) 331-5709.