How to Prepare for Graduation: A Current Students Guide to Preparing for Commencement

Allicia Washington-White headshot

Allicia Washington-White, Student & Alumni

As my time here at Purdue University is unraveling and commencement is upon me, I am taking time to reflect on my experience here and share some tips for graduation at Purdue. You want to celebrate this accomplishment because not only are you near completion of the program, but you were able to manage all of your other commitments while maintaining your school work, Woo Hoo!

Being a student at Purdue University sends a surge of pride when I tell people where I attend graduate school—albeit being hundreds of miles away in Wisconsin. Commencement information has been helpful, but if you are a distance student like me, here are some tips to help you make sense of all the information on-campus students receive. After all, this is a world class university so here is some friendly help from an out of state student!

1.) Watch your emails!

As if we did not have enough personal emails, pin numbers, and passwords to remember! You want to make sure you keep an eye on your outlook inbox for the email about graduation. Your student services coordinator will send a lengthy email about holds, and action items that need to be completed (most of this will be completed prior by the coordinator).

2.) Accessing information via My Purdue

Your My Purdue account will house all of the information you need to know about commencement including schedules, locations, and how to place orders for your cap and gown (which we will discuss in the next section). There will be a required checklist that you have to complete to make sure you received and comprehended the information shared. Of course if there are any questions you can contact the registrar’s commencement team at

3.) Picking up your Cap and Gown

If you don’t live in Indiana, like most of us in this program, getting access to your cap and gown will be the tricky part. All regalia will be available in the University bookstore. But when you google ‘Purdue University bookstore’ three pop up! So make sure you are going to the correct bookstore. The University Bookstore will have extended hours on the day of graduation to ensure graduates are able to pick up their items before the big march.

4.) Factoring in Travel Time

I am type A, so I have a laundry list of items to remember! Travel time is one of those big items! I live in the Central Standard time zone and West Lafayette falls under Eastern time. So not only is the school three hours away from home, but my family has to factor in losing an hour, finding parking, walking time, etc. I have never been to the university so timing is everything; I would hate to be lost on the big day. Make sure you know what time you are expected to graduate and if you are traveling from greater distances, it may be worth staying overnight and getting a feel for the campus.

5.) Midwest means snow! (If you graduate in December)

I was visiting my sister in Texas and had the opportunity to have lunch with a classmate. She mentioned driving from Texas to Indiana for the big day. I made sure she knew that it can get really snowy and slippery in the winter and to make sure to keep that in mind since southern states don’t receive much snow like we do in the Midwest. Driving in sleet and snow is particularly dangerous if you are not used to it!

I hope these tips help all my fellow distance students!

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Allicia Washington is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.