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After successfully transitioning two of my children from high school to college, I realize this time of year when senior pictures, homecoming, testing and college applications are dominating the minds of most parent and students, that every decision feels like an important one. As the school year progresses, even more decisions will emerge. Some will require your utmost attention like deciding on a college and others will take a lower priority, such as planning the graduation festivities in the spring. To ease this stress, I’ve come up with a helpful graduation checklist.
- If you haven’t already, be sure to have your senior’s professional portraits done before the last college application deadline, usually by Jan.1.
- As soon as the high school releases the graduation ceremony date and time, discuss with your senior whether he or she would like to have an open house or a group party with friends. For our oldest son, we chose a simple small gathering in our home with family and friends. Our middle son had a group party at a local facility that was hosted by all the parents.
- Since most graduations occur in early May, you’ll want to start making your mailing lists in March, one for out of town family and friends that you know won’t be able to attend the graduation, and one list of those that will.
- Whichever type of graduation celebration you choose, you will need some form of graduation announcements. I recommend a single 5×7 two-sided flat postcard that allows you to print the graduation ceremony details on one side and your personal party information on the other. Be sure and include a return address on the envelopes, as most out of town relatives will want to send gifts. It is also a good idea to include the college they will be attending in the fall, if you know it at that time.
- Have all your senior pictures purchased in either digital or print form by May 1st since this is typically the deadline for submitting a deposit for enrollment at most colleges and the time when your student will be setting up their online portal at their new school and registering for housing. I have found that most colleges will ask for an uploaded picture for the student ID card, so why not use one of their senior pictures for their new card?
- To make it easier on you, ask your family members to place their own print orders online with your photographer and arrange to have them shipped directly to them. If you were planning to give any prints or albums away as gifts, have all of your orders printed and mailed off in April, if not before.
- Take your senior shopping for either a new suit or dress in February or March, as they will need something nice to wear under their cap and gown. Also, pay attention to your school’s deadline to place orders for the cap and gown and graduation tickets.
- There will be other items that will cost money like yard signs, senior picnics and senior themed parties…and of course senior prom. Realize upfront that there are a lot of expenses towards the end of the year and plan accordingly.
- Lastly, have your graduation announcement cards mailed out at least 6 weeks before graduation to give you plenty of time to start planning your celebration.
I’m still filling up my calendar with high school senior sessions. It’s not too late to book yours with me and have them ready for your announcement cards, which I also provide. To get inspired, check out these amazing seniors Grace and Max. I look forward to hearing from you! 407.340.2990