As the weather gets warmer and the summer months approach, graduates across the country are putting the final touches on their caps, planning the perfect grad party, and looking forward to the glorious moment when they walk across the stage and receive their diploma. It’s an emotional time for many, and in the rush of job applications, celebrations, interviews, and moving vans, it’s easy to let modern manners slip by the wayside. For those getting ready to receive their diploma, remember these five modern manners for graduation.
- Announcements or Invitations: Know the difference between the two before addressing your envelopes. Invitations are sent 6-8 weeks before the ceremony, and affirm that the recipient will have a ticket to the event should they choose to attend. Invitations include the time, date and location of the event, as well as an RSVP card so that the graduate and their family know who’s attending. Announcements are mailed the day of, or post-ceremony. Announcements specify the date, type of diploma and degree, and any academic distinctions awarded to the graduate.
- Announcement Etiquette: In the social media age, a mailed announcement may seem unnecessary, however formal correspondence is a time-honored tradition and signifies the importance of the achievement. If you’re wondering who to send the announcements to, a great rule of thumb is those to whom your family would send a holiday card. The announcement includes your full name, your academic institution, the degree earned, graduation date, and any special distinctions such as Cum laude. You may also choose to include a senior photo or a picture of the graduate in their cap and gown regalia. Hand address each envelope in blue or black ink using formal titles (“Ms. Kristen Meyer” or “Dr. Michael Smith”), and personalize the return address.
- Graduation Tickets: If you have a limited number of tickets to the ceremony, choosing who to invite to the ceremony takes some consideration and depends on a variety of factors. Consider your relationship, whether they live in town (and if not, travel potential), and their role in this accomplishment. Family members such as parents or grandparents who helped finance your education or offered incredible emotional support take priority, with remaining tickets going to close family and friends. For those who can’t come to the ceremony but still want to see you walk, consider sending an Evite with a link to the live stream, along with your heartfelt thanks for their love and support.
- Party Planner: For graduates with a limited number of tickets that still wish to celebrate with extended family and friends, consider hosting a get-together or special dinner to commemorate the milestone. If hosting a dinner at a restaurant, confirm the number of guests and reserve a table or party room well in advance. Many popular restaurants book up months and weeks in advance of graduation.
- Congratulations Graduate! If you know someone who will be graduating, however you didn’t receive an announcement, send a card. It’s possible that they had a limited number of formal announcements printed, they didn’t have the correct address, or simply made an oversight; either way, your thoughtfulness and well-wishes will be much appreciated!
Sharon Schweitzer and Amanda Alden co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.
Amanda Alden is an intercultural research assistant with Access to Culture. She graduated with honors from St. Edward’s University with a major in Global Studies and a minor in French, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Intercultural Mediations at l’Université de Lille III. Feel free to connect with Amanda at on LinkedIn.