By Kim Corriher
While the start of their final quarter is an exhilarating time for prospective graduates, there still is some work to be done. A new offering coordinated by the Office of University Events can streamline one of the weightier tasks: preparing for commencement.
Ohio University Graduation Fair 2008: Countdown to Commencement is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 16 in Baker University Center Ballroom. The event offers "one-stop shopping" for all things graduation, said Director of University Events Gretchen Stephens.
"Commencement is a lifetime event for our students, their parents and their families," Stephens said. "We like to see it be a happy occasion for everyone. The graduation fair is aimed at increasing the likelihood of that by eliminating any hassles."
The Graduation Fair will provide all prospective graduates with needed information to help each and every one of them prepare for graduation and commencement.
Coordinating closely with Senior Class President Lynn Walsh and others across campus, University Events has been working since June to develop a comprehensive approach for sharing information pertinent to graduates' big day.
"We've been doing things the same way for years," Stephens said of the commencement process. "While it's worked just fine, students communicate in different ways these days. We wanted to make every effort to present all of the information in an accessible way."
As in years past, all necessary information about graduation and commencement will remain available online. At the fair, however, students can meet face to face with representatives of several offices around campus, including those of the bursar, registrar, alumni association, career services, graduate student services and financial aid.
"Graduation is exciting, but it's also stressful," said Walsh, who's been closely involved in planning for the fair. "We are trying to help students enjoy their last quarter in Athens instead of feeling bombarded by graduation.
"Everything a senior needs will be there, from information on cap and gown purchases to where to park for commencement," Walsh said. "Students will be able to apply for graduation, and they can take part in the senior video Time Capsule. We tried to think of everything."
Also for the first time, students can buy announcements directly from University Printing Resources. The office will have a station at the fair to take orders and print announcements on site.
Students' most important stop will be at registrar's office terminals to apply for graduation.
"A lot of students don't realize that they must apply to graduate," Associate University Registrar Patrick Beatty said. "Completing your course work is just the first step. It's the largest step, but it's only the first step. You have to apply for graduation to be considered a candidate."
While the application process has been required for years, the graduation fair is an opportune time for the office to remind students of this crucial step in the process.
"This graduation fair is perfect for us," Beatty said. "To have this venue, where all of the students who are going to graduation are invited, makes our job a lot easier and makes it a lot easier on the students."
Students can apply for graduation online or at the registrar's office in Chubb Hall. The deadline for applications for June 2008 graduation is April 22, and the process is required of all students who intend to graduate at the conclusion of spring quarter.
Fair participants such the Ohio University Alumni Association and Career Services will be on hand to provide information students will need as they look past graduation day.
Director of Alumni Campus Relations and Advocacy Greg Scharer said that while the alumni office has held events for prospective students in past years, being part of the fair will extend the office's messages to a broader audience.
"We think that this is a great way to reach so many of the students who can use our services, but may not yet understand just what is available to them," Scharer said.
The alumni office will have a number of tables at the fair focusing on topics from the availability of medical insurance to the newly created Bobcat Mentors program, which pairs students and prospective graduates with alumni throughout the country.
"We've had more than 500 alumni enroll already," Scharer said. "It's a way for graduates to make one-on-one contacts with alumni in their professional field or even just in the geographic region where they will be living after college."
University Events has developed a pair of Top Ten checklists -- one for students and another for their parents -- that will be available for students at the fair.
"These include things like paying student fees, lining up health insurance, ordering a cap and gown, double checking what day a student needs to move out," Stephens said. "Even though commencement is more than two months away, now is the time to start thinking about all of these things."
University Events also has created a postcard with the checklist for parents.
"All students need to do is fill in their parents' addresses and we will take care of sending it out for them," Stephens said. "We really want to make this as easy as possible on our graduates."
Updated at 3:58 p.m. Thursday, April 3, 2008 to clarify the purpose of the registrar's office terminals.