Commencement Timeline

timeline2Preparing for graduation is a journey with many steps. There are events and stages which should be followed in order to help alleviate stress and avoid obstacles that keep you from earning your degree as efficiently as possible.

The following stages are excellent forms of planning that allow you to conquer graduation and start on a successful career path with your Northern education.

1 year prior to graduation

Check with the Career Services Center, 3502 Hedgcock, for assistance in resume building, researching companies, learning about upcoming campus interviews and job fairs on campus or in the area.

At this point, you would have already registered for classes for one of your final semesters at Northern. You should have set a timeline for the approximate semester that you will be able to graduate, including the remaining classes required for graduation.

9 months prior to graduation

The final copy of your résumé should be completed at this time and should be ready to be sent to prospective employers. Check your resume regularly to remind yourself about any updates that are needed to be made.

If you are planning on attending graduate school, you should begin collecting materials on prospective schools that you may want to attend. By searching the Internet for graduate schools, you normally can receive information from the schools in which you are interested in. Some websites that are helpful for searching for graduate schools are, but are not limited to:


5-7 months prior to graduation

At this point, you should receive your degree evaluation, including the courses you have left to complete in order to graduate. Degree Evaluations, 2202 Hedgcock, sends these out based on the semester you are graduating. December graduates receive an evaluation in August; May graduates receive an evaluation in October and August graduates receive an evaluation in April. After receiving this evaluation, you should meet with your adviser to finalize your path towards graduation and to correct any possible problems with your evaluation.

Some important things you need to start taking care are plans for commencement celebrations, hotel reservations for visiting friends and relations, dinner reservations and apartment searching (if needed).  Room reservations, in particular, need to be made as far in advance as possible, since hotels are booked full six to eight weeks before the graduation ceremony.

Final semester prior to graduation

If you are considering attending graduate school, you should now apply to schools you are considering attending. You should complete applications early due to deadlines for admission and assistantships. You don’t want to struggle to complete essays and get reference letters all at once. For graduate studies at Northern, contact the College of Graduate Studies and Research at 227-2300 or visit 610 Cohodas Hall.

Be sure to register for graduation during the semester you are planning to graduate. You need to register for graduation whether you are participating in the commencement ceremony or not. If you are an August graduate and would like to participate in the May commencement ceremony, you need to register for graduation with your winter course work.

At this point, your job search for after graduation should get under way. Although some people believe that you should look prior to this point, employers would prefer to hire an employee when they are closer to college completion. The Career Services Center, 3502 Hedgcock, is available to assist you during the job searching process. Some helpful website for job hunting are, but are not limited to:

It is important to make sure that you are qualified for any position that you apply for. Be sure to keep track of all of the positions that you apply for so that you do not apply for the same position again. On your records also keep track of any responses that you receive, as well as if you followed up with the status of your application. If you have any questions, contact the Career Services Center.

3-4 months prior to graduation

You will receive your final degree evaluation at this point during your undergraduate studies. The final evaluation will include all of your last semester classes and the classes that you are currently enrolled in. This evaluation will include information concerning if you are currently on the right path towards graduating. The final evaluations are mailed according to your anticipated graduation term. December graduates will receive their final evaluation in August; May graduates will receive their final evaluation in early February; and August graduates will receive their final evaluation in April. Contact your adviser if there are problems with your final evaluation because the information on your evaluation determines if you will be able to graduate when you were planning to.

Check with the Student Service Center, 2201 Hedgcock, to make sure that any financial obligations are paid in full and if there are any other holds on your account. You will not be able to receive your diploma if there are any charges on your student account, you have not returned your mobile device, you have not completed your Perkins loans exit interview, and other reasons.

1 month prior to graduation

At this point you should be ready to graduate in the upcoming month. Some important things that should be taken care of immediately if they haven't been already are possible commencement celebrations, hotel reservations, dinner reservations and apartment searching (if needed).

This is also the point when you should send out announcements, if you are going to do so. Announcements may be purchased at the University Bookstore, in the University Center, or at Printing Services, 207 Services Building. When sending announcements to family and friends be sure not to forget your parents. Although they know you are graduating, they would like to get an announcement of your achievements as well.

Graduation week

Enjoy the week and don’t make yourself stressed with all of the tasks that you need to accomplish. You are graduating and this is a time to enjoy your accomplishments at Northern and begin on a career path you will enjoy.

Graduation Day

Arrive to the Superior Dome early on commencement day (between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.) because you can not be added to the procession once it begins. This is a day where you can reflect on your experiences and accomplishments and enjoy the company of your friends and family.