Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Commencement Week

Commencement Video

Whom do I contact about purchasing the commencement video?

Collegiate Video
P.O. Box 376
Newfane, VT 05345
Phone: 802-365-4414
Fax: 802-365-7811

Commencement Photos

Whom do I contact about purchasing individual graduation pictures from the Commencement ceremony?


Whom do I contact if I need assistance?

Please contact Susan Martin in the President's Office at 413-538-2663 or

Graduation Requirements

Are your graduation requirements in order?

If the Registrar’s Office or Student Financial Services has notified you of any problem in meeting academic or financial requirements for your degree, do not ignore their warnings; see them at once! In addition to your academic requirements, student charges through April 30 must be paid in full by May 15. All seniors should review their online A/R accounts in ISIS. Seniors with loans must complete exit counseling online; information on exit counseling is available online. Graduation is contingent upon resolving your academic matters, and Commencement tickets may not be issued to any student with loans who fails to complete exit counseling.

Senior Press Release

What is a senior press release?

Students and their families often wish to share academic milestones, including commencement, with their hometown communities through announcements in local newspapers. Since most community newspapers will publish brief news articles about area residents, the Office of Communications has prepared press release templates for both traditional graduating seniors and Frances Perkins Scholars.

To complete a press release, simply fill in the blanks of the appropriate form and send it to the publication(s) of your choice. If you have questions, contact the Office of Communications at 413-538-2455.

Commencement Rehearsal

Do I have to attend commencement rehearsal?

Yes, attendance at commencement rehearsal is mandatory. The purpose of this meeting is to make sure that you know in which order you will line up to receive your diploma. 

We begin with breakfast in Willits and then walk to the Kendall Gymnasium for line up. Once the line up is complete, we will march to the amphitheater and rehearse sitting in the proper order and you will have a brief practice of coming onstage to receive your diploma. 

Your name will be called to make sure it is pronounced it correctly. If your name is mispronounced, please wait until the rehearsal is completed to make the correction. If you are unable to attend rehearsal, you should notify the Commencement Coordinator Susan Martin, x2663, and designate another senior, who will be present at rehearsal, to speak for you, to know where your seat is, and to instruct you in the proceedings.

The Alumnae Association will be on hand to practice the laurel chain ceremony and the singing of "Bread and Roses."

Senior Survey

What is a senior survey?

Each year Mount Holyoke surveys the senior class as they graduate. The survey focuses primarily on your undergraduate experience and on your future plans. Our goals are to learn what you think about your education at Mount Holyoke, to evaluate current programs, and to gather information to help Mount Holyoke improve the quality of education. It is important that we hear from everyone. Future generations of Mount Holyoke students will benefit from your reflections. Seniors will be emailed an invitation to the Senior Survey in late April. Respondents will be eligible for graduation prizes.

Laurel Parade

Why do we wear white?

Contrary to popular lore, the wearing of white in the parade has nothing to do with virginity. You wear white because that is what the suffragettes wore when campaigning for women’s right to vote. The song, “Bread and Roses,” is about the suffering of women and mill workers at that time and is symbolic of the support of women that Mount Holyoke represents. In this case, the wearing of white is a sign of women’s solidarity. Wear whatever color shoes you like. Hats are also a great idea. Most of the class will dress formally, but many seniors have created white outfits that let them express themselves while still adhering to the tradition of the parade.

Why do we have a parade?

You march in a parade so that you can identify yourselves as members of your class and to be celebrated by alumnae and your guests. Alumnae will line the parade route to cheer you on and congratulate you. Symbolically and physically, you are joining the ranks of alumnae. Lining up and processing in rows of four across, you will split into two rows of two across when you reach the gravesite and weave a beautiful pattern around Mary Lyon’s Grave. "Bread and Roses" (sung at the grave) James Oppenheim (1882‐1932) was an American poet and novelist who often wrote on political and humanistic subjects. His poem, "Bread and Roses", originally appeared in the December 1911 issue of American magazine with the accompanying quote: "Bread for all, and Roses, too"—a slogan of the women in the West. In 1912, the historic Lawrence, Massachusetts, strike occurred among the thousands of textile workers who labored in the city’s mills. "Bread and Roses" was taken up by strikers working with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) for reasonable and humane working hours and pay.

Canoe Sing

What is Canoe Sing?

Canoe Sing is one of Mount Holyoke’s most casual and fun traditions. It dates back to 1911, when it was called “Senior Serenade” and took place on Upper Lake, after Baccalaureate. During the Canoe Sing, 12 canoes decorated with lanterns illuminate Lower Lake while changing formations. At the same time, seniors in canoes and on the shore sing previously rehearsed songs.

The Senior Class Senior Week Committee organizes the event with generous assistance from staff in Athletics, Facilities, and Student Programs.

How many canoes are there?

There are 12 canoes that seat three people each.

What happens if I am not in a canoe?

The majority of the class lines the banks of Lower Lake to sing.  A group of seniors will lead songs and everyone else can join in.

When and where is rehearsal?

Rehearsals are on both Thursday and Friday (see schedule for details) at the Prospect Hall patio. Attendance is required for all participants regardless of whether or not you are in a canoe.

Whom should I contact if I have questions?

Contact your senior class board.

Alumnae Association Connections

When do we present our senior class gift?

The Senior Class Gift is presented by your Head Class Agents at the Alumnae Association’s annual meeting, immediately after the parade on Saturday morning. At this meeting, seniors are formally welcomed into the Alumnae Association and the 50th reunion class will present your class with a gift. This money will be held in an account and will form the basis of your class gift at your 50th reunion.

Why does my bathroom suddenly say "men’s room"?  And, who are all the new guests in my residence hall for Commencement/Reunion Weekend?

For the convenience of alumnae and their guests (many of whom are not used to the concept of men being allowed above the first floor), the reunion planners from each class assigned to your residence hall decide which floor will have a women’s room and which floor will have a men’s room. All bathrooms are coed after midnight. Many classes do not make any distinction at all and go by the “house rules” that have been established by the students. We ask that you make your best effort to comply with the wishes of the alumnae who are our guests for the weekend.

Alumnae will make full use of the residence hall entryway and living rooms. They will have welcome tables and check‐in areas, as well as social hours and Saturday dinners in the residence halls. We ask that you do not remove the cushions from the sofas since alumnae will need this seating for their weekend events. For the most part, these events are scheduled for times when you will not be in the residence hall (i.e., during your Saturday dinner and Baccalaureate). Alumnae are asked to keep the residence halls as clean as possible and to remember that they are sharing the residence halls with seniors. We hope you enjoy each others’ company!

Career Development Center

Can I still meet with a career advisor after graduation?

Yes, we offer both in‐person and phone appointments, just call the CDC at 413-538-2080 to schedule a time. Career counseling for alumnae is a free service provided to all alumnae through the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College.

Is there a way to find out about job opportunities after graduation?

Yes, keep your LyonNet profile current and continue searching jobs posted there.

Not sure how to use LyonNet?

Stop by the CDC, visit online, or call 413-538-2080.

What about letters of recommendation and references?

If you plan on applying to graduate school, teaching jobs, or similar opportunities, you may find it helpful to create a "credentials file" of recommendation letters, work samples, and related documents. For more information, visit CDC online.

I heard networking is the way to find a job, how does it work?

Networking is one those "buzz" words, but it is true, the best way to shape your job search strategy and uncover job leads is through networking which is simply asking advice of those who have succeeded in a given field. To get started, call for a career advising appointment or visit the Alumnae Association online.

If I’m still looking for a job or not sure what to do?

Remember, even in the best of times, only 20‐25% of graduating seniors have a job in hand by commencement day. However, year‐after‐year we find that six months after graduation, 85% or more of our graduates are either employed or in graduate school. The same is true for graduates of similar colleges around the country. The CDC and Alumnae Association are eager to assist you in making your way. You are in good company!

Health Center

Are my medical records discarded after I graduate?

The College maintains medical records for 30 years. All requests for medical records, except immunization records, must be accompanied by a signed written request by the patient.

How can I get a copy of my records?

The Health Center will be sending a copy of your immunization record to your on‐campus address. This will be sent to you prior to graduation. If you would like a copy of any other portion of your medical record, please return a medical release form. You may complete and mail the form to the Health Center. You can also come to the Health Center to complete a form at any time. The Health Center is closed during the summer. There may be a delay in responding to requests for records between June and September. There will also be a fee of $15.00 once you have graduated. Please note the Health Center cannot complete a graduate school admission or employment physical health form unless you have had a complete physical exam with the health center during the past academic year. The Health Center cannot write medication prescriptions after you have graduated.

Does health insurance end when I graduate?

Policies vary in the length of the eligibility period after you are no longer a full‐time student. This is a topic you and your parents should discuss ASAP. Students enrolled in the College‐sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan are covered until midnight August 15, 2016. For more information call Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk Insurance, 1-800-457-5599.

Short-term medical insurance policies bridge the gap between the expiration of current coverage and the enrollment in a future insurance plan. This product provides coverage for major illnesses or accidents and may be purchased for a variable term, 30-185 days. This option is not available in Massachusetts but may apply to other states. A new option for students, who graduate and remain in Massachusetts, may be to enroll in one of the health plans available through Commonwealth Connector.

To learn about the eligibility requirements, available health insurance plans, cost, and the enrollment process, go  and product information and cost, contact: Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk Insurance, 800-457-5599.

Auxiliary Services ‐ Mail

Can I keep my mailbox over the summer?

Sorry, boxes cannot be held for students who have graduated.

How long will you forward my mail?

Mail will be forwarded for one year. Be sure you email the Alumnae Association your updated if your address changes (or online: Alumnae Association or 413-538-2303). Hint: Please check your post office box for mail on Thursday or Friday of Commencement weekend, even if you were not here spring semester. Honors notifications and other welcome correspondence just might be there.

What do I do with my mailbox key?

After you have made a final check of your mailbox, place your key along with a note stating your name and mailbox number in an envelope addressed to Mail Services. The envelope may be dropped at any campus mail pickup location (department offices), the mail drops in Blanchard, or left at the front desk of Mail Services (located in the Central Services Complex).


See the parking webpage.

Residential Life

When do I have to vacate my room?

All rooms must be vacated by noon on Monday, May 16. Keys should be returned in a labeled envelope to one of the key boxes at the following locations: North Rocky, Buckland, Pearsons, or Prospect; or outside the Residential Life Office in Safford Hall.

When will Residential Life be open?

The Office of Residential Life will be open on Monday 9:00 am to 1:00pm for any questions or concerns. Seniors who do not return their room keys by June 5 will be assessed a lock change and key replacement fees.

How can I obtain my belongings from the trunk room?

The trunk rooms are unlocked on May 2 and will remain unlocked until May 31 at noon.

Can I store my belongings in the trunk room over the summer?

No, graduating seniors are not allowed to store any belongings in the trunk room following Commencement. Any item remaining in the trunk rooms after June 1, is assumed abandoned and will be removed and disposed.

Meal Services

Blanchard Café will be offering meal services for all graduating seniors through breakfast on Sunday, May 15th. Reunion workers will be offered services through dinner on Sunday, May 22th. For more information download the meal services announcement.