Tips for Graduates and Guests

Prior to Commencement

Be sure your tickets are distributed/sent to guests ahead of time. Your guests will not be able to enter the arena without a ticket. It is very difficult to meet up with your guests prior to the ceremony due to the large crowd attending the event

Before You Leave Home

  1. Determine your specific academic college, based upon your major. Upon arrival, you will be directed to the specific check-in of your academic college.
  2. Bring money for parking in public parking lots.
  3. Concessions including coffee, hot chocolate, and fountain drinks are available at the Arena.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes for walking.
  5. Be sure to try your cap and gown on (in advance) to be sure it fits. Pre-hang gown and iron if needed.
  6. Jewelry and flowers are not permitted on commencement gowns.
  7. Bring bobby pins to be used in pinning on your cap.
  8. Be sure your tassel is secure so it doesn't get lost.
  9. Don't bring items of value with you (such as purses, coats, cameras) since there is no place available to secure these items. We are not responsible for personal items.
  10. Review the parking map and identify a specific lot where you will park.

Arrival Downtown

  1. Allow extra time for parking.
  2. Parking is available at and near the Eberhard Center at no cost.
  3. Weather permitting, please leave your coat in your vehicle.
  4. The Handicap Parking Lot entrance is located at the SW corner of the Van Andel Arena. Guests who need mobility assistance should enter the arena at the southwest corner entrance near the handicap parking lot. Arena staff will direct guests upon entering the facility.
  5. All graduates should arrive at the Arena an hour before the ceremony is scheduled to begin.
  6. Families and guests should arrive at least a half hour before the ceremony begins.
  7. The main entrance for graduates and guests is the Main Entrance on Fulton Street. Upon entering the Arena Lobby Area, graduates will be directed to check-in areas and guests will be directed upstairs to the seating area.

Following the Ceremony

Prearrange a meeting spot outside of the Arena with your families and guests after the ceremony. Approximately 9,000 people will exit at the same time and it is difficult to locate your family and guests. Consider meeting at a lunch location. Reservations are recommended.

Photographer Information

A professional photographer will take two pictures of each graduate as you receive your diploma. Information will be distributed during check-in.

The ceremony should last approximately 2 and a half hours, please remain seated until the ceremony concludes.