Frequently Asked Questions

Viewing Locations

Where is the Commencement ceremony held?

The Commencement ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. in the Kendall Field House. Guests with tickets will have reserved seating in the Field House. There will be a limited amount of seating for guests without tickets.

Where else can family and guests watch the ceremony?

We offer livestream viewing of the ceremony at Gamble Auditorium or in the Great Room in Blanchard Hall on campus.  The event is also livestreamed for family and friends who are not able to come to campus in person.

Academic Attire

For those who have not yet purchased academic regalia, full regalia can be purchased by logging onto You can order complete regalia packages (caps, gowns, hoods, and tassels) starting now.

Pre-paid orders to be picked up at The Odyssey Bookshop starting on April 15 incur no shipping charges, but you must order by March 15.

You may also have regalia shipped to you, with a $15.95 shipping and handling fee, and you must order by May 1.

If you already have a gown from Fall Convocation and only need to order some pieces of the regalia (i.e., cap, hood, tassel), there is no need to pre-order now. The Odyssey Bookshop will have these items for sale starting on April 15 until Commencement. You will be able to stop by any time during open hours to purchase at your convenience.

Alumnae 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.

Who are all the new guests in my residence hall for Commencement/Reunion weekend?
Alumnae and their guests will be on campus for the weekend and we ask that you make your best effort to make them feel welcome. 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. 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. 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!

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 after graduation. Be sure you notify the Alumnae Association of any updates to your address—by email, via the Alumnae Association website, or at 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 should 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).

Career Development Center

Can I still meet with a career advisor after graduation?
Yes, alumnae who’ve graduated within the past five years are encouraged to connect with the CDC Alumnae Engagement Team for personalized support in their professional development. They offer in-person, phone, and skype appointments. Call the CDC at 413-538-2080 to schedule a time.

Is there a way to find out about job opportunities after graduation?
Yes, keep your LyonNet profile current and continue searching jobs posted there. You can find more job search resources in the CDC. If you’re not sure how to use LyonNet, stop by the CDC, email the LyonNet help desk, 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. Learn more about the partnership the CDC has with Interfolio to manage your credentials file online.

What if I’m still looking for a job or not sure what to do?
Remember, even in the best of times, only 20‐25 percent of graduating seniors have a job in hand by Commencement day. However, year after year, we find that six months after graduation, 85 percent 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!

Continue to network, too, which is simply asking advice of those who have succeeded in a given field. To get started, view the CDC’s networking guide, call 413-538-2080 for a career advising appointment, or visit the Alumnae Association online.

Commencement Rehearsal

Do I have to attend commencement rehearsal?
Yes, attendance at Commencement rehearsal (Friday before Commencement) is mandatory. The purpose of this meeting is to make sure that you know the order in which you will line up to receive your diploma. The Alumnae Association will also be on hand at Mary Lyon's Grave to practice the laurel chain ceremony and the singing of “Bread and Roses.”

We will begin rehearsal with breakfast at 8:00 am in Willits and then walk to the Kendall Gymnasium for line up at 8:45 am. Once the line up is complete, we will march to the Field House 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 correctly. If your name is mispronounced, please wait until the rehearsal is completed to make the correction.

If you have any questions or concerns, please notify contact the president's office at (413) 538-2500.

Commencement Video and Photos

How do I get a copy of the commencement video? The video will be posted to the College’s website shortly after Commencement. You may stream it free of charge.

How do I purchase individual graduation pictures from the Commencement ceremony?
Please contact Commencement Photos, Inc.

Drone Use

Are drones allowed on campus during Commencement weekend?

No. Due to safety concerns and the need to comply with local regulations issued by Westover Air Force Base, the use of drones during commencement weekend is prohibited.

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. Please see them at once!

In addition to your academic requirements, student charges through April 30 must be paid in full by May 12. All seniors should review their online A/R accounts in my.mtholyoke. Seniors with loans must complete exit counseling online; information on exit counseling is available online. Graduation is contingent upon resolving your academic and financial matters, and Commencement tickets may not be issued to any student with loans who fails to complete exit counseling.

Health Center

Are my medical records discarded after I graduate?

All medical records generated after September 2015 are stored in our Electronic Medical Record. College Health Services will have access to those records for up to seven years. 

How can I get a copy of my records?

You can access your immunization record through MyHealthConnection. We strongly encourage you to print a copy of your immunization record and store this in a place for long term retrieval. You may need this for graduate school or employment.

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 complete and fax the form to 413-538-2352. There may be a delay in responding to requests for records between June and September, as the Health Services operates on limited hours during this time.  There will also be a fee of $15.00 once you have graduated.

Access to Health Services

Please note the Health Services cannot complete a graduate school admission or employment physical health form unless you have had a complete physical exam with the Health Services during the past academic year. The Health Services staff cannot write medication prescriptions after you graduate.

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. Under the Affordable Care Act,coverage coverage  should extend to age 26 for most domestic family plans. Students enrolled in the College-sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan are covered until mid August.

For more information call 1/800-457-5599 or use this link

Short-term medical insurance policies are not available in Massachusetts, but may apply to other states.To learn about available health insurance plans, eligibility requirements, costs, and the enrollment process, contact Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk Insurance at 800-457-5599.

Meal Services

The Dining Commons will offer meal services for all graduating seniors through breakfast on the morning of Commencement. Reunion workers will be offered services through Reunion II. Learn more about Commencement weekend dining.

MHC Traditions—Canoe Sing and Laurel Parade

What is Canoe Sing?
Canoe Sing is one of Mount Holyoke’s most casual and fun traditions, and dates back to 1911. On Saturday evening, 12 canoes decorated with lanterns will 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. Questions? Contact your senior class board.

Will everyone be in a canoe?
There are 12 canoes that seat just three people each. So, 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 for Canoe Sing?
Rehearsals are on both Thursday and Friday at the Prospect Hall patio by Lower Lake. Attendance is required for all participants regardless of whether or not you are in a canoe.

Why do we have a Laurel Parade?
You march in the Laurel Parade so that you can identify yourselves as members of your class and 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.

Why do we wear white in the parade?
The wearing of white has long been a sign of women’s solidarity. For example, it’s what the suffragettes wore when campaigning for women’s right to vote. (It has nothing to do with virginity, contrary to popular lore!) Dress may be formal or creative, as long as it’s white. Wear whatever color shoes you like. Hats are also a great idea.

When and why do we sing “Bread and Roses”?
During the Laurel Parade, you will line up and process in rows of four across. You will split into two rows of two across when you reach Mary Lyon’s grave, where you will weave a beautiful pattern around the gravesite. It is here that we sing “Bread and Roses.”

“Bread and Roses,” by American poet and novelist James Oppenheim, originally appeared in the December 1911 issue of American magazine. In capturing the suffering of women and mill workers in the early twentieth century, the poem’s rallying cry of “Bread and Roses” became a broader political appeal for fair wages and dignified conditions.

The slogan was taken up during the successful textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912. During this largely women-led effort, thousands of textile workers united with the Industrial Workers of the World to strike for reasonable and humane working hours and pay. The song remains symbolic of women’s power to lead and effect change.

Read more about Commencement traditions


Please see the parking website.

Residential Life

When do I have to vacate my room?
All rooms must be vacated by noon on Monday following Commencement. Keys should be returned in a labeled envelope to the key box outside of the Office of Residential Life at 1 Safford Hall.

When will the Office of Residential Life be open?
It will be open on Monday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm for any questions or concerns. Seniors who do not return their room keys will be assessed a fee for a lock change and key replacement.

How can I obtain my belongings from the trunk room?
The trunk rooms are unlocked through the month of May.

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 your scheduled move out date of the Monday after graduation is assumed abandoned and will be removed and disposed of.

For furher details, please contact the Office of Residential Life.

Senior Survey

What is the senior survey?
Each year, Mount Holyoke College 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.

Other Questions?

If you have other Commencement-related questions, please contact the President’s Office at 413-538-2500.