What to Do on High School Graduation Day

Gabrielle Applebury
Graduates tossing caps into the air

High school graduation is an incredible milestone to reach. You may be feeling nervous, excited, and sentimental about this process. Staying organized and knowing what this day entails will help you remain calm throughout graduation so you can enjoy this exciting moment.

Preparing For Graduation

Prior to graduating, it's important to remember to do a few things.

Before the Big Day

A few things may seem like a good idea to do on graduation day, but will work best if you plan a little ahead.

  • Pick out an appropriate outfit to wear under your graduation robe or gown. Your school will most likely let you know what type of attire is approved so give yourself at least a few weeks to buy or select an outfit and remember that you'll most likely be taking pictures prior to the ceremony and after.
  • Have your speech prepared if you're speaking at the ceremony and bring a few copies in case you lose one. Set them by your gown the night before so you don't forget.
  • If you'd like to get a haircut, do so a week or so beforehand. This gives you time to play with styles and figure out how you want it to look with your cap.

Start Your Day Off Right

Be sure to:

  • Have a healthy breakfast beforehand, you've got a long day ahead of you! You can also pack some snacks in a bag and leave them with someone who is in the audience, or have them prior to the ceremony.
  • If you bring a purse or change of clothes, leave your items with friends or family in the audience so they don't get lost after the ceremony.
  • If you'd like to have some of your classmates or teachers sign your yearbook, you can bring that as well.
  • Make an appointment for the morning of the big day to get your hair, nails, and makeup done. Just give yourself plenty of time so you aren't rushing to the ceremony.

What the Day Entails

Your school will let you know what time you need to be on campus and where you're supposed to meet. Be sure to come a bit early as parking can be challenging. On the day of:

  • You'll probably do a quick rehearsal with your peers.
  • You'll have time to put your cap and gown on, but you should be in your formal ceremony clothes with your hair and makeup done, if applicable.
  • You'll be asked to line up as the audience finishes getting seated.
  • Music will play as you file in to your assigned seats.
  • You'll hear several speeches from your school administration, as well as from a few peers.
  • Row by row you'll be called up alphabetically as you make your way to the ceremony stage.
  • Your name will be called and you'll shake a few administrators' hands and accept your diploma.
  • Move your tassel from the right to the left and pause so your picture can get taken.
  • You'll then head back to your seat and wait until all of your classmates have received their diplomas.
  • Once everyone is done, an administrator will present the graduating class to the audience.
  • You will all stand and throw your caps into the air.
  • Typically there is a reception held on campus so everyone can meet up with their friends and family and take pictures.

Relax and Enjoy the Day

This day only comes around once in your lifetime, so be sure to take a breath and enjoy every moment of it. If you're feeling nervous, do something to ground yourself like mindfulness, deep breathing, or spend a few minutes outside. This is an incredible milestone to reach, so be sure to celebrate how far you've come and don't take lightly just how much you've accomplished. Friends and family may want to take pictures of you throughout the day, so try to exercise some patience. They're really excited to celebrate with you.

Portrait of enthusiastic graduates

What You Need to Remember

On the day of you may want to bring a few things with you to the ceremony. This may include:

  • Your speech if you're speaking at the ceremony.
  • A few snacks and a bottle of water.
  • A change of clothes if you don't want to wear your formal attire after the ceremony.
  • Your formal clothes and shoes if you're changing at the ceremony.
  • Toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, and extra hair styling supplies for last minute touch ups.
  • Tissues for some possible tears and bandaids in case you get any blisters from your shoes.
  • Your cap and gown if you already have them in your possession, although many schools allow you to pick them up just prior to the ceremony.
  • Be sure to let your guests know approximately where you are sitting so they can get a good view of you throughout the ceremony.

What to Do During the Graduation Ceremony

During the ceremony, enjoy every moment. It's going to go by a lot quicker than you think. This could be one of the last times that all of your peers are in the same place for a while. During the ceremony you'll mostly be staying quiet, but after everyone receives their diploma you can throw you cap into the air and be as loud as you'd like. You can also make a point to wave to your family and friends beforehand so they know exactly where you are seated.

High school graduate waving

Fun Activities to Do After Graduation

After graduation you'll probably want to celebrate with your family and friends. While many students have their high school graduation party following the ceremony, you may have chosen to host yours the day before or the weekend after. If this is the case, you can consider:

  • Going out to a fun restaurant.
  • Heading to Disneyland or another amusement park.
  • Go on a family vacation.
  • Head to classmates' grad parties with other friends.
  • Do a spa day with some friends to unwind.

Having a Great Graduation Day

Enjoy this final moment as a high schooler. Your graduation day can zoom by super quickly so be sure to take it all in and have a great time celebrating this amazing accomplishment.

What to Do on High School Graduation Day