Graduation – What You Need to Know

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Time Flys!

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. I am not trying to scare you; I just want to give you ample time to make those hotel reservations. Similar to football weekends, graduation weekend hotels are at a premium. People book them a year out. No joke. I literally booked my rooms a solid year before my son graduated. (Don’t know where to stay, check out our Hotel blog.)

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 seven-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 can’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. And when you are booking those extra rooms, put them in different names so the hotel does not mistakenly cancel all of your rooms.

Students may request up to 6 tickets through Marching order. Any person older than one year requires a ticket to enter the Civic Center for the graduation ceremony. Need more? You may have your student go on the FSU student page. Some will sell them but hopefully, they can talk a friend into giving them their extras. If someone in your party needs handicapped seating, doors to the Civic Center open approximately one hour prior. You can pull up to the front and they will have someone who can bring them in and get them seated in the handicapped section; you can also have one person stay with them in that section.

Speaking of the Civic Center, keep in mind that the Civic Center does adhere to its clear bag policy for graduation. Click here to double-check those requirements.

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.  FSU’s registrar lists the diploma dates, which means that will be the weekend of graduation. As of today, the next few graduation dates are: 

The following are the dates of the upcoming graduations:

Friday, December 13, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Friday, May 1, 2020

Saturday, May 2, 2020

For exact time

Go here to find the more precise days and time is for your student’s major. Particularly for the May graduation, there are so many students graduating they split it into two times over two days. 

A new change is that graduates will need to present a Grad Pass and Photo ID to enter the Donald L. Tucker Center. This is for enhanced safety measures. Your student should check their student emails for instructions. The Grad Pass can have it on their phone or print a copy.

Keep your water bottles, balloons and wrapped gifts at your hotel or in the car as they are prohibited at graduation (as are the more obvious weapons, alcohol, and air horns). Flower bouquets are available for sale at the Civic Center but they are pricey and there is only a small selection. Our recommendation is to pick up flowers in advance. You may get them from Publix or any other local supermarket or we were very pleased with our purchase at Blossoms but also considered popular with parents is A Country Rose Florist and Hilly Fields.

Cap & Gown Isn’t Cheap

Wondering how much your student will need to pay to rent the cap and gown which is required if they are walking?  FSU recently updated their policy on graduation attire for graduates. All students are required to wear FSU’s new, customized regalia available exclusively through the FSU Bookstore and online through Herff Jones. These new caps and gowns were created specifically for FSU; thus, students may not wear borrowed regalia or regalia purchased from alternative vendors.  Marshals will remove improper attire, signs, and insignia. Any damage to mortarboards will result in a $45.00 fee for cap replacement. FSU regalia is available for rental or purchase. It can take up to 8 weeks for purchased customized orders. If students did not attend and order their regalia at the Grad Fair they can still order for rental through this website. Note that all orders placed after March 15 will be assessed a $10.00 late fee. After April 12, orders must be submitted in person at the FSU Bookstore. If you have questions, contact the FSU Bookstore at (850) 644-0832.

Cap and gown pick up will be held July 22nd – 26th, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the FSU Bookstore. For December 2019 graduation Cap and gown pickup will be held December 2nd-6th, 2019 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Location TBD)

This tassel color-swatch sheet provides examples of the tassel colors traditionally associated with the various academic disciplines.

Make Those Reservations!

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 graduation Restaurant blog. Keep in mind, because May graduation is the largest, many restaurants will require a non-refundable deposit that will get applied to your bill.

Collegetown, at 815 Madison Street, 850-785-9925,  is now offering people to book their stay.

Senior Send-Off is a great activity that many students participate in. Generally arranged by sorority sisters for graduating seniors, it is a nice way to say goodbye to students that are graduating. Usually, sororities plan things to do for it, and everyone is welcome that wants to take part. There are usually dinners for the sendoffs at nice restaurants.

Don’t worry if you can’t get to graduation. You can always watch the live feed on your computer. Find your grad here.

For information about parking, seating and all things graduation, click here.


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. One of my favorite photos of my daughter and a few of her besties (they shared the cost) was taken on the football field. Of course, everyone wants a picture in front of the fountain, so the crowds will be massive. Encourage them to book their photo session very early in the morning. It is cooler then too. 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 a few by the famous fountain. Here are some reputable photographers:

Kiana Govind – She has shot from formals to weddings to graduation photos

Gray Style Productions  Another favorite. She does portraits, weddings, commercial, graduation, and couples

LV photography Beautiful photographs and very professional. 

You can also do a search in the FSU Class pages or parent pages.

Finally, we’ve got some great graduation gift suggestions including diploma and tassel frames.

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2019-10-07T11:51:24-05:000 Comments

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