Remember how when our kids were little we couldn’t envision them leaving us and going off to college? Now, if you are like me, you can’t believe how quickly the time went. It continues to rush by and before you know it, college graduation will be here.
Allow ample time to make those hotel reservations. Similar to football and Parent weekends, graduation weekend hotels are at a premium if you want to stay close to campus. Some people book them a year out in order to get the hotel they want. I literally booked my room a solid year before my daughter graduated. Being in Boca Raton though, we definitely have an advantage if you don’t mind staying a tad bit further from campus. (Don’t know where to stay, check out our blog on hotels.)
Be sure to check the policy with whichever hotel you choose, but if possible, book more rooms and cancel later when Grandpa decides he isn’t up to the three plus hour drive. It is far easier to cancel than to try to find a room in February for May graduation for Aunt Sadie who decided she just couldn’t miss it. I actually booked three rooms, but only used two. Instead of canceling the last one though I passed it to a friend who found herself short a room. There is always someone in need. If you are booking multiple rooms, just a tip; put them in different names because if you have them all in your name, and you need to cancel a room, the hotel may have to cancel the entire reservation. This actually happened to a friend of mine. Boca Raton does have quite a few hotel options in the surrounding areas, however, it is important to remember that South Florida is a popular vacation destination. While there may be plenty of options, it’s still crucial to book early.
August and December graduation reservations may be a tad easier, but there are far more students graduating then than you may think, so don’t hesitate to book early. Besides, in December, there is still a lot going on with students moving out for winter break. The spring commencement ceremonies for 2018 fall on Thursday, May 3rd, and Friday, May 4th.
You might not know which of these days and time is for your student’s major until a few months before though. Particularly for the May graduation, there are so many students graduating they split it into multiple ceremonies throughout the day and evenings. More information about the specifics of Graduation day can be found here.
Reserve, Reserve, Reserve!
Remember to make restaurant reservations as well. Generally, restaurant reservations can’t be made as far in advance as hotels, but due to the crowds, you will definitely want a reservation. I actually called so far in advance they couldn’t make it yet but told me when to call back so I could be one of the first to reserve the date and time I needed. I marked my calendar and all worked out beautifully. Check out our blog on Graduation Restaurants and Restaurants.
Finally, I know you are going to want some great photos. Many students (particularly photography enthusiasts) will offer their services to take some amazing pictures around campus for a reasonable price days before graduation. Students may want to schedule a few weeks early as classic FAU places, including the banyan trees, the college they graduated from, the sign at the main entrance, Owlsley Statue, Student Union seal, and the football field, tend to get very crowded. My Daughter had one of her sorority sisters who was a photography major take her photos. Encourage them to book their photo session as early in the morning as possible when it isn’t so hot. And once you get there and want those family pics with your student adorned in cap and gown, be sure not to leave it for right before or after the ceremony, because that is what everyone else will do and you will literally wait in a LONG line to snap in all the key places that scream Owl. We arrived about an hour earlier than the suggested arrival time and took the photos then.
FAU does contract with a private vendor who photographs each graduate as they cross the stage. If you are able to locate your student in the sea of graduates and can carefully follow their place in line, they also show them crossing the stage on the jumbotron with their name and degree. You can try to photograph that as well. One of the many fun parts of watching graduation is seeing the creative caps designed by the students. I think my daughter spent several weeks perfecting hers.
Keep your gifts, balloons, and noisemakers at the hotel as they are prohibited inside the Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Center. Flowers are available for purchase in the lobby of the auditorium.
Seating is on a first come, first serve basis with special accommodations for those that need it. You will need to contact the Office of the Registrar (561-297-3050) at least ten days in advance. Students each receive 2 tickets for guests and can enter a lottery to receive up to 3 additional tickets. Finally, if family and friends cannot make it to the ceremony, FAU does have a live webcast of graduation. Many of my northern family members utilized this option.
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