Getting Ready to Graduate: A Guide for Students

As you reach the end of your university degree, you may be looking ahead to what comes next. This should include getting ready for your graduation.

A graduation isn’t just an awards ceremony, it’s a day to remember. This is why it is important your university knows how to get everything in place as soon as possible to make your graduation experience accessible.

This guide will give you ideas of the support you can ask for to make the most of your graduation.

Start preparing now

Graduation may be months away and you may have yet to finish your degree, but did you know, your university have already started planning their celebration of your time with them?

Your university should be in touch with you early in your final year to collect information and to share what you need to do in advance. This includes how to register for the ceremony, book gowns and book a professional photo.

Your university should ask you for information about your needs to make the ceremony accessible to you. If your university has not been in touch or you would like to provide further information on your access needs, reach out to student services and ask to speak with the graduation team.

The support you can request

The earlier you speak with the graduation team; the earlier arrangements can be made. These arrangements could include:

  • Support to access online registration and booking portals for the ceremony, your gown and photos.
  • Producing written materials like programmes in a format which is accessible to you. These could be large print, braille, or digital.
  • Sitting closer to where the degrees are awarded and sitting with a support worker or guide dog, if needed.
  • Communicating with you on how you would like to navigate the ceremony. This could be independently, with a sighted guide, with a cane or guide dog.
  • Providing you with information about the venue and instructions on how to find your way around. This could include providing accessible signage.
  • Asking to make those on stage aware of your needs, how to give verbal instructions, and how to ask you if you need help.
  • Knowing who to speak to on the day if you need support.

Practise makes perfect

A big part of your graduation will be collecting your award and shaking the hands of university staff in front of your friends and family. It’s best to know what to do and where to go before you put on your cap and gown.

It’s a good idea before the ceremony to ask that a member of the graduation team meets you at the venue to talk you through how the graduation ceremony will work. You should arrange this one or two weeks before the ceremony so the graduation team have time to make changes to the venue or your route.

You may want to find out:

  • Where you will be seated.
  • How to find your way to and from where you collect your award.
  • Once on stage, what you will need to do and where to stand.
  • If you will be supported by staff, how will they help you navigate the ceremony.

Once you know this, you may than want to have a walk through, pretending to collect your award to ensure you feel comfortable with the route and what you need to do on stage.

Don’t worry if there is a lot to remember, there should be staff around on the stage on the day to assist all students.

Have fun!

Our biggest piece of advice for you would be to have fun! If you are unsure of something on the day or need support, staff will be there to help. Communication is key!

With an accessible graduation, you know you will be in for a great day. Student Voices volunteer Paul shared with us how the right support meant he could make the most of his graduation ceremony,

Paul wearing sunglasses and a hat looking at the camera and smiling.“Graduation is the pinnacle of success for any student. Lots of hard work has gone into achieving this wonderful life goal, but as blind and partially sighted students, we may have faced extra challenges and hurdles meaning that we have worked harder to achieve this success.”

“Before my graduation ceremony I had access to the venue to practise my route to and from the stage and practise in receiving my degree. During my graduation ceremony I was seated near the stage with my sighted guide. With these adjustments, I had an enjoyable day and was excited to celebrate alongside my peers knowing that I was going to receive support to do so”. Paul – Student Voices volunteer and university graduate.

Further support

Our Student Support Service is here to support blind and partially sighted students aged 11+ to get the most out of their secondary, college and university education.

If you have any questions about accessing your graduation, please reach out to us by visiting our Student Support Service homepage.

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