graduation-2011-group-shotThe snow is melting, spring is almost here, and before you know it, it’ll be graduation day—if only it were as simple as walking across a stage. For all you seniors preparing to leave college and move on to the next step,  you know how stressful it is to think of all the things you have to get done before May. To help ease the process, here’s a list of what you must complete as soon as possible in order to best prepare yourself for graduation.

1. Apply for graduation

2. Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor to make sure you will have all requirements fulfilled to graduate.

  • It is important to check and double check that you’ve taken all the necessary steps to complete your degree. If you have classes left to take during the summer, be sure to register for them. Remember, you can still participate in May’s commencement ceremonies despite taking classes this summer.

3. Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

  • For F-1 visa holders, you may be eligible for OPT. This is 1 year of U.S. work authorization.
  • It can take up to 90 days for the OPT application to be processed by USCIS, and graduation is less than 60 days away. If you haven’t begun filling out the forms, please do so right away. The application can be found on the OISS website. If you have questions or concerns regarding OPT, we have resources online as well as scheduled seminars and webinars that can help clarify them. Our next OPT webinar will be Monday March 18 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and our next in-person OPT session will be April 9th from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in room 303 of the International Center.
  • Be sure to check our website, Facebook, and Twitter regularly for the dates.

4. Order your cap and gown.

5. Get a visitor’s visa for family members who are planning to attend your commencement ceremony.

  • The Office of Registrar offers letters that assist in the process of a family member obtaining a visitor’s visa in order to attend your commencement. Students interested in receiving a letter should go to the Office of Registrar, room 150 of the Administration Building, anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mon-Fri with a photo ID. You can also email the office at from your MSU email. Students should be prepared to provide the full name and relationship of he or she who is applying for the visitor’s visa. For more information, you can also view our form: Inviting Parents and Relatives to the U.S.

6. Figure out what you’ll be doing with your belongings.

  • It’s likely that you’ve accumulated a large quantity of possessions in your four years at MSU. For that reason, the time to start looking for a new home for your couch, coffee table, and car is now. You have a variety of options; you can sell your items, give them away, or take them with you to your next destination. Whatever you decide to do with you accumulation of goods, do it soon so you can avoid having to deal with it later.
  • The Lending Center makes used household items available to  international students and scholars living in University Apartments (Spartan Village and Cherry Lane). If you have items that you are unsure what to do with, they may be able to take them off your hands so another international student or scholar can use them.

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Dena ElianDena Elian is an International Relations Senior at MSU’s James Madison College. Currently, she is the Experiential Learning Intern at OISS. Her campus activities include involvement with organizations that promote Middle Eastern politics and Arab Culture. If you’d like to be featured in a Student Spotlight entry, please email her at