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The Ultimate College Graduation Checklist

With So Much Going On, Forgotten Little Things Can Mean Big Headaches Later

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Mixed race woman moving into college dorm room
Blend Images - Eric Raptosh Photography/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Graduation is coming, and you most likely are dealing with ten million things at the same time. On top of trying to make sure you pass your last semester's classes, you probably have family visiting, friends you want to spend some time with, and countless logistics to deal with before you can actually leave, diploma in hand, as a college graduate. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a handy college graduation checklist you could use to keep things organized?

This list is meant to make the college graduation process a little easier. After all, after four (or more!) years of hard work, sleepless nights, and a lot of dedication, you deserve a little break!

College Graduation Checklist
 

  • Return your cap and gown on time - These are expensive if you forget to return them when you're supposed to.

  • Leave a forwarding address with the campus mail center and the alumni center - Even if it's just your folks' or a friend's address as you sort things out, you don't want to lose your mail amidst your transition.

  • Make sure you don't have any charges in your residence hall or apartment before you check out - It's much easier to deal with this on move-out day than two months later when you get hit with a whopper of a bill. Stay an extra 20 minutes and have someone (an RA or landlord) sign something saying you won't be charged for anything unexpected.

  • Check in with the career center - Even if it just means getting a login and password so you can search their job databases later, utilizing their resources after graduation will be a lifesaver.

  • Complete an exit interview if you're on financial aid - Most students receiving financial aid will need to complete an exit interview before being allowed to graduate. This can often be done on your computer and involves reading information about when your payments will begin to be due, etc. But not completing it can prevent you from getting your diploma.

  • Make sure everything is cleared on your account in the financial aid and registrar's office - The last thing you need is to be about to start a new job or graduate school, only to learn that there's a problem with your college account that you need to fix. Make sure both offices have everything they need from you before you leave campus.

  • Check with the alumni office for deals on short-term insurance - From health insurance to car insurance, many alumni offices now offer programs to graduating seniors. Figure out what programs your school offers and what you're eligible for so that you don't have to spend too much time (or money!) searching for alternatives.

  • Get copies of all your loan (and other) papers - From your housing contract to your loan paperwork, get copies of everything you'll need down the road. This will be especially handy if there are any problems after you graduate.

  • Compile all your electronic files in one place - When your computer was acting cranky two months ago, you may have saved your amazing midterm paper on your roommate's computer. Gather together all of your important documents (that you might need for job applications, writing samples, or graduate school) in one place, ideally stored in the cloud so you can access it wherever and whenever you need to.

  • Grab a few copies of your transcript - You may think you won't need them, but you might also be surprised. New jobs, volunteer programs, and all kinds of folks may want to see your transcript after you graduate. Having a few with you will save you a lot of time, money, and trouble.

  • Update your address with anyone who sends you a bill - This can include your bank, your cell phone provider, your loan companies, and your credit card companies. You may be so busy moving and looking for a job that you won't realize you haven't received a phone bill for three months after you graduate -- at least until your service gets cut off.

  • Get contact information for your references - Knowing where your references will be over the next few months, as well as how to reach them, may make or break you in certain situations. Who wants to miss out on a great job simply because a reference was unreachable while doing research in France? A quick email, phone call, or office visit to ensure you have everyone's contact information is a smart idea.

  • Get contact information for your friends - People will be so busy on graduation day, and there will be so many people around, that getting contact information from your friends will be mission: impossible. While social networking sites are a great place to start, having an actual email and phone number is best.

  • Write thank-you notes - Sure, it may seem old-fashioned, but writing thank-you notes to those who helped you the most during your time on campus, to those who gave you graduation gifts, and to anyone else who helped you along the way is a kind gesture and a great way to make sure you leave college on a high note.

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