The ultimate guide to your university graduation day

22nd July 2022
Students throwing their graduation hats up in the air

July is officially the summer graduation season! All of your hard work over the past three or more years has finally come to a head in a lovely (and well-deserved!) celebration with your friends, family and classmates.

Whether it’s your first graduation ceremony, or maybe your second or third for your Master’s degree or PHD, there’s always a sense of nervous excitement that comes with this momentous occasion. And when you don’t know what to expect, the whole day could seem like quite an overwhelming event.

But not to worry – we’re here to tell you what to expect on your graduation day, and what you need to prepare to make it a day to remember! Read on for everything you need to know in our guide to your university graduation day.

1. Where and when is your ceremony?

If there’s one thing you need to know to make the day go as planned, it’s where you need to go and when you need to be there. This information will be sent to you via email far in advance of your ceremony, so make sure you keep up to date and check your inbox frequently.

When you arrive, there will be plenty of staff on hand, plus lots of signposting to help you find exactly where you need to go – but arriving in the right place at the right time is ultimately the most important step! And, don’t forget to let your guests know when your graduation ceremony is! A huge part of the celebration is being surrounded by loved ones to honour your achievements and acknowledge what your years of effort have come to.

2. How can you prepare for the day?

Around the time you get your graduation invite email, you’ll also get some communications about things you’ll need that the university helps to organise. This will include things like collecting your cap and gown – including getting your head and body measurements – and ordering and paying for professional photos (make sure someone brings a nice camera on the day)!

And don’t forget to buy your tickets! It sounds like an easy one but there’s always someone who needs a couple of reminders before they get into gear and place their order. Sometimes, unis offer you a small number for free, or, at other times, there’s a limit to how many you can get – so prepare to have to buy extra tickets on the day if you’re coming with a larger party. It completely depends on your uni, so if you’re unsure, send them an email to double-check and save any last-minute dramas!

A female student being photographed receiving her degree

3. What are you wearing?

If you’re someone who likes dressing up, there’s no better excuse than your graduation! It’s time to get out your formal suit and dress from the back of the wardrobe, double-check everything still fits after you wore it once to a wedding two years ago, and then get practising your award-winning smile in the mirror.

Have you ever thought about going second-hand? At Sanctuary Students, we like to encourage everyone to do their bit to help the planet, so why not try slow fashion for your special day and head to a charity shop or a second-hand website, like depop.com or vinted.co.uk, to find your graduation attire? Look good, and feel good too!

4. Where are you staying?

If you’re planning on staying the night – either before or after your ceremony – it’s best to make hotel plans as soon as possible, as things are bound to get booked up fast! If you’re unsure where to stay, check with friends and ask about their plans. It might also be worth looking at an Airbnb rental if you’re staying for a while – but affordability for these properties will depend on your uni’s location.

Someone opening a door to a hotel room

We also offer summer accommodation to the general public here at Sanctuary Students – suitable for individual and group bookings. It’s available in many cities across the UK, and for an affordable price, is a great option when it comes to graduation season.

5. How will you celebrate?

Once the official ceremony is out of the way, it’s time for the partying to begin! Are you planning on going to the pub with friends in the evening? If you’re in a city, there may be a music event you’d like to go to, or something more casual like a pub quiz. Another popular option is going for dinner with your family – the opportunities are endless!

Our number one tip would be to make sure you book tickets for any events in advance, and book a table for dinner as soon as possible! Chances are that lots of others will have similar plans, so you don’t want to miss out on a table at your favourite restaurant on such an important day!

A group of friends raising a toast over a meal

Most importantly, your university graduation day is a day to have fun! It might’ve been a while since you were reunited with these friends (especially in a post-COVID-19 world), so really try to make the most of the day with your nearest and dearest.

It’s the ideal time to celebrate you – and all of your amazing achievements. University isn’t always the easiest ride, so be proud of yourself for all of your hard work and dedication, and the fact that you now officially have a degree! Bravo!


When you need a helping hand…

When life gets tough, it’s important to remember you’re not alone. Sanctuary Students well-being support is here for you – as often as you need them, whenever you need them. This includes the Health Assured Student Advice Line, which you can use to call a professional, for free, at 0800 030 5182 for support throughout your studies.