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Organizing Final Graduation Details

5 Things to Make Sure Are In Order Before the Big Day

While you’ve probably taken care of most things by this stage of planning, there are some additional items to consider before graduation day. The graduation ceremony will occur soon. Now is the time to organize final graduation details that will make this day so memorable.

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Student Graduate List and Diploma Order

When preparing your list of soon-to-be graduates, it’s important to organize each area of study in alphabetical order. Then you want to record the students in alphabetical order per class.

Then make sure you have listed students receiving prestigious awards such as Valedictorian, Salutatorian, etc. in alphabetical order to announce at the beginning of the ceremony.

Give high awards at the start of the ceremony. However, this will alter the alphabetical order. Some schools hand out these additional awards before the ceremony so that students are already wearing the honorary cords and stoles for their walk across the stage. It’s much smoother to recognize the student’s special achievements during their walk than to call on them separately or distribute them on stage.


Diplomas are traditionally given out in alphabetical order. Confirm the method your school will use if you’re doing something different.

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Identify Honor Students

As mentioned, acknowledging high honor students will allow them to receive their regalia for when they move their tassel if this is how your facility operates. Many schools allow students to receive their medallions upon checking in and then receive their certificate on stage.

These honors include Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude, and these will follow after the honors of Valedictorian and Salutatorian have been granted.

Award order will commonly be alphabetical despite the level of award given. Typically, honor students who have earned a GPA of 3.90 and above will receive Summa, students with a GPA between 3.70 and 3.89 will receive Magna, and students who have earned a GPA of 3.50 to 3.69 will receive Cum Laude. However, some schools may sort them differently based on the grade point average spread.


Prepare and distribute the honor student awards in advance to prevent any onstage delays.

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Prepare Medallions for Graduation Ceremony

All students who have received an honor of Summa, Magna or Cum Laude should be made aware beforehand so they can be given ahead of time, or presented with on stage, the correct medallion for graduation. These are typically distributed to students upon arrival to the ceremony when they check in. Honor cords are also grouped into the section of ornaments and should be distributed upon check-in as well. Alternatively, these can be awarded on stage to highlight their achievements further.

Sorority and fraternity students with honors should also have tassels, cords, and sashes distributed upon before arrival. Again, this can also be accomplished on stage.


Organize the medallions so that they’re easy to distribute.

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Accommodate for Graduates with Disabilities

It’s essential to organize staff, helpers and a stage plan for students with disabilities who may need help retrieving their diploma. Disabled students should not be set apart from their classmates during the ceremony. Visit your venue to confirm it accommodates disabled students and guests properly.

Foremost, the stage must be wheelchair accessible. Secondly, it’s important to leave space at the end of each row for students with wheelchairs and an additional chair for a helper to assist them when it’s time to greet the stage.


Make all graduates feel comfortable and welcome on this extraordinary day. Communicate with disabled students to see if they have any specific needs for the graduation ceremony.

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Set-Up Information Table

Information tables at check-in should be set up in alphabetical order. This allows check-in to be quick and efficient.

Check-in tables should be in alphabetical order or the order of honor. This will make retrieving medallions and sashes more efficient, so there will be no delays.

The information table should also include alumni sign-up information, ceremony programs and general information on the events that will be going on around campus.


Be sure to have enough information tables to meet the needs of the students and their loved ones. A ratio of 1 to every 50 students is likely ideal. So a graduation of 300 students should have six information tables.

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Keep a lookout for additional articles if you want to learn more! There will be many articles about graduation planning on our blog in the weeks to come. 

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