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Undergraduate Commencement FAQs

Undergraduate Commencement Information

See the Full Commencement Week Event Schedule

Email Communications

Graduating Students, 

We look forward to celebrating your graduation during Commencement weekend, May 8th and 9th, 2021. We have been hard at work planning COVID-Safe, Thunder-Strong events to recognize your well-earned accomplishments. While we are not able to invite parents, families, or friends to campus for these events, we are confident that we will be able to celebrate well!  

We have posted the Commencement 2021 Schedule of Events to help you plan your Commencement week. These events are for graduating students and faculty only. Please note that rehearsals for both Graduate and Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies will be held Friday, May 7th. The Graduate rehearsal will start at 10:30 am, and the Undergraduate rehearsal will start at 2 pm; however, both rehearsals will have earlier arrival times.  

In order to accommodate these large events, students will be assigned an earlier arrival time based on last name for both rehearsal and Commencement.  The arrival times could be an hour before the start of the events. Please watch your email closely for further communication regarding your arrival time a week or two before the events. You will find more information in the coming weeks on our Commencement webpage.  

If you have not been studying on campus this semester and will be returning for Commencement weekend, please watch your email or review the Undergraduate FAQs on the Commencement webpage for further information. 

If you have remaining questions after you have visited the Commencement Webpage, please email them to commencement@wheaton.edu. 

Sincerely, 

Diane Krusemark

Registrar 

Commencement Team

Graduating Students, 

We look forward to celebrating your graduation during Commencement weekend in just a couple of weeks. As promised, we wanted to provide you with further information regarding your arrival time for both rehearsal on Friday, May 7th, and the Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 9th.

In order to keep this event COVID-safe, we will need to stagger arrival times for students on Friday and Sunday. You will need to report to Bean Soccer Stadium at the time noted below based on your last name. Please enter through the parking lot of the College Ave. apartments; student ushers will be posted to help you find your spot on the field. Thank you in advance for patience as we celebrate safely!

Friday, May 7th - Undergraduate Rehearsal

  • A-D 1:00 p.m.
  • E-K 1:15 p.m.
  • L-Ri 1:30 p.m.
  • Ro-Z 1:45 p.m.

Sunday, May 9th - Undergraduate Commencement

  • A-D 8:45 a.m.
  • E-K 9:00 a.m.
  • L-Ri 9:15 a.m.
  • Ro-Z 9:30 a.m.

We would also like to call your attention to the Commencement Name Pronunciation JotForm. If you would like to provide a voice recording of your name pronunciation, please complete the JotForm by 11:59pm on Monday, May 3rd. 

If you have not already done so, please be sure to familiarize yourself with the Commencement 2021 Schedule of Events and Undergraduate FAQs

If you have remaining questions after you have visited the Commencement Webpage, please email them to commencement@wheaton.edu

Sincerely, 

Diane Krusemark

Registrar 

 

Commencement Team

Wheaton College | 501 College Avenue | Wheaton, IL 60187

Dear 2021 Graduates,

The following message was sent to parents this morning.  Please feel free to also alert your parents or other potential guests.

Dear Parents of Graduating Seniors,  

We write to inform you that the Centers for Disease Control released new public gathering guidance Tuesday that, alongside guidance from the Illinois Department of Health, will allow us to welcome two guests for each of our graduating seniors at our 2021 Commencement ceremonies—a plan coordinated with the City of Wheaton. While we are very grateful now to be able to accommodate guests, we truly regret that this late development may make it difficult for some of you to alter your plans in time to attend. Rest assured that we will still livestream Commencement.   

All guests will need to meet at least one of two qualifying criteria: 1) you have received a complete COVID-19 Vaccination (at least two weeks prior to being on campus); 2) you have received a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the ceremony (after May 6). Unfortunately, if you are not able to demonstrate that you meet one of these criteria, you will not be permitted to attend Commencement.  

Soon we will send you more specific details, including how to register for your two tickets to attend in person, provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test, as well as guidance for your time on campus before, during, and after the ceremony. Please be aware that masking will be required inside campus buildings and at Commencement.

We are grateful to God for this opportunity to bring parents or other guests to Commencement to celebrate with our graduates. We pray for good weather and a grand occasion for our graduates and their families, cheered on by our faculty. 

In Christ’s service,  

Philip Ryken 

President 


Commencement 2021 FAQs

The Centers for Disease Control released new public gathering guidance Tuesday, April 27th, that, alongside guidance from the Illinois Department of Health, will allow us to welcome two guests for each of our graduating seniors at our 2021 Commencement ceremonies—a plan coordinated with the City of Wheaton. While we are very grateful now to be able to accommodate guests, we truly regret that this late development may make it difficult for some of you to alter your plans in time to attend. Rest assured that we will still livestream Commencement.  

Updated: April 30, 2021

We are able to welcome two guests for each of our graduating seniors at our 2021 Commencement ceremonies; we will also be live streaming the event. Family and friends can join the Commencement programs virtually or will be able to view the event afterwards at www.youtube.com/wheatoncollege. Both the Graduate and Undergraduate ceremonies will be streamed live at wheaton.edu/watchcommencement.

Yes, the ceremony will be recorded and available online at www.youtube.com/wheatoncollege after the event.

 

Yes, you can return for Commencement. Before visiting any other part of campus, you will need to go first to the check-in station at Westgate Alumni Center, at the corner of Washington Street and Union Avenue, on Thursday, May 6, from 12-5 p.m.

Please bring one of the following forms of documentation applicable to you:

  1. Your COVID-19 vaccination card demonstrating that you received your final required dose, at least two weeks earlier;
  2. A positive COVID-19 test result taken within the last 90 days; or
  3. A negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within the previous 72 hours.

You will also be required to complete the COVID-Safe Thunder-Strong Commitment form during the check in process; and abide by the safety requirements of the College during your time on campus.  Upon successful check-in, you will receive a blue wristband to identify your participation in the COVID-Safe Thunder-Strong community. You will also receive your cap and gown for the ceremony.

For those unable to check in Thursday for travel reasons, the check-in station will also be available on Friday morning, from 9-10:30 a.m. However, because of the volume of returning graduates and our need for COVID-Safe procedures, we strongly encourage graduates to check in during the larger window of time on Thursday.

We have different arrangements for cap and gown pick up, depending on whether students are currently studying on campus or not, and whether students are undergraduate or graduate school.

  • Undergraduates currently studying on campus: At Grad Fest, Monday, May 3, from 10 am to 3 pm.
  • Undergraduates returning to campus: At COVID-Safe Check-In on Thursday, May 6, from 12 - 5 pm (or Friday, May 7, from 9-10:30 am).

Once you have your cap and gown on a hanger, do not iron them.  We recommend steaming to get the wrinkles out.

  • Processional
  • Hymn/Invocation
  • Invocation 
  • Student Reflections on Faith & Learning
  • Scripture Lesson
  • Introduction of Speaker
  • Commencement Address
  • Conferring of degrees 
  • Prayer of Commitment
  • U.S. Army Commissions
  • Recognition of Emeritus Faculty
  • Presentation of Class Gift
  • Alumni Association Welcome
  • Hymn / Benediction
  • Recessional

Please report for lineup at your given time to Bean Soccer Stadium on Sunday, May 9th.  We are tentatively planning for the following arrangements, and will notify students via email of the final time slots.  By Last Name:

  • A - D - 9:20 a.m.
  • E - K - 9:30 a.m.
  • L - Ri - 9:40 a.m.
  • Ro - Z - 9:50 a.m.

It is important for you to arrive at your designated time slot!

Please arrive wearing your cap and gown—and don’t forget your tassel and zipper pull!  You will need to keep any personal items with you during the line-up and event.

Students should dress in regalia for Commencement. Once you have your cap and gown on a hanger, do not iron them.  We recommend steaming to get the wrinkles out.  During the Commencement ceremony, caps should be worn flat on your head.  The tassel goes on the RIGHT side. It is turned to the LEFT upon the conferral of degrees during the Commencement ceremony.

Only approved adornments may be worn to Commencement. These are scholastic honors cords, student government cords, certificate stoles, and honor society cords. All adornments must be issued by the department representing the distinction.

  • Women: Skirt, dress pants or dress. You will be walking across the soccer field and football field; please wear flat shoes. Also please, no jeans or flip flops.
  • Men: Dress shirt, tie, and slacks. Closed toe shoes are appropriate. Please, no jeans, lounge pants, or flip flops. 

Yes. We will have ramps in place for all students to use to access the stage. If you would like to discuss any additional accommodations, please contact Melissa Norton in the Learning & Accessibility Services office at melissa.norton@wheaton.edu.

You will practice your order during rehearsal. Students will be divided into groups of approximately 50 students, with approximately 10 students in a row. Each student will have a numbered marker on the field to stand on. Ushers will be on hand to help each row their section get in order. You will leave the soccer field in order and walk to your section on the football field, filling in each row. There will also be a numbered marker on the football field for each student, corresponding to the number on the soccer field. You will have a card with your name on it that you will hand to the reader on the stage, so your names will be read in order.

You will be directed from the stage on when to sit and stand during the ceremony. The program will also indicate which elements you should stand for, if you are able. 

At the conclusion of the Commencement address, Dr. Lee will come to the microphone and say, “Will the candidates for the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Music Education degrees please rise?”  At this time, all students will rise.  

Lee will present you to Dr. Ryken, who will say ”On behalf of the Board of Trustees, it is my pleasure to bestow upon you the Bachelor’s degree upon completion of all requirements, with all the rights and privileges thereof.” At this time, seniors turn tassels from the right to the left.  Dr. Lee will say “the graduates may be seated”. All students should sit EXCEPT for the first section of the alphabet (approximately 50 students).  This section of students will proceed to the platform.  From this point forward, student marshals will indicate when it is time for your row to stand and proceed to the platform. After receiving your diploma, return to your row and take your seat. 

Hopefully you have submitted a phonetic pronunciation with your application for degree. If you are uncertain or wish to say your name so our reader, Dr. Wilder, can hear your pronunciation, please complete the Commencement 2021 Name Pronunciation JotForm by 11:59 pm on Monday, May 3rd.

Yes, a professional photographer will be taking photos of each graduate receiving their diploma. Graduates will be notified of proof availability via their my.wheaton.edu email address. Wheaton College will cover the cost of one 5x7 photo, shipping not included, via a coupon code sent from the photography company. Also, if you would like to receive 20% off of your order, you can pre-register with the photographer, Grad Images, by following these instructions. There is no obligation to purchase photographs. If you have any questions, contact www.gradimages.com.

Diplomas are sent after all degree requirements have been met, and all financial obligations resolved with the College.  If you have any loans, please be sure to do your Loan Exit Counseling. Once these items are complete:

  • May graduates should receive their diplomas by the end of July.
  • August graduates should receive their diplomas by mid-October.
  • December graduates should receive their diplomas by the end of February.

We send the diplomas to the diploma mailing address you indicated on your application for degree. If that has changed or changes in the future, please contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar@wheaton.edu.

You can order graduation announcements with Jostens through the Campus Store.

No, we only print one copy of your diploma. Please keep yours in a safe place.

No, only your name, degree and Latin honors appear on your diploma. Degree, majors, minors, certificates and honors appear on your transcript. In the US, the transcript is considered the official document; the diploma is considered a ceremonial document.

You can order your transcript on the Wheaton portal under Banner Self Service > Student Services > Student Records > Request Official Transcript. While completing your order online, please indicate if you want the transcript order to be held until your degree is posted.



Parent and Guest Commencement FAQs

What kind of COVID-19 test or vaccine is required to attend Commencement?

Due to Illinois State Health restrictions, each guest will need to meet at least one of two qualifying criteria:

1) a complete COVID-19 vaccination dated at least two weeks prior to being on campus (only Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines allowed);

2) a negative COVID–19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the ceremony. The PCR COVID-19 test is the only test we are allowed to accept in order to maintain attendance capacity. Antibody tests or other rapid antigen tests will not be accepted.

When is the earliest I can get tested to be counted within the 72-hour timeframe?

For Graduate School Commencement, your COVID-19 test must be taken no earlier than Wednesday, May 5 at 3 pm.

For Undergraduate Commencement, your COVID-19 test must be taken no earlier than Thursday, May 6 at 10 am.

Will I be allowed to attend if I have already had COVID-19?                      

Even if you have tested positive for COVID-19, you still must provide a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination to attend Commencement. See other questions for specific details on the timing for these requirements.

What if I received the final dose of my COVID-19 vaccine fewer than 14 days prior to Commencement?

If you received your final dose on or before Sunday, April 25 for Grad School Commencement or on or before Monday, April 26 for the Undergraduate Commencement, you do not need to provide a negative PCR test at Commencement.

Where can I get tested in Wheaton?

Though Wheaton College cannot guarantee you will receive your results on time, we have had good results from “Let’s Get Checked” which is an at-home test delivered by UPS. You will need to order the test right away so you receive it in time for the results to be processed.  If you are arriving from out of the area, we do not recommend that you wait until you are in Wheaton to get the test, as the results take 48-72 hours to process. An additional option may be getting your test from a Wheaton healthcare provider, such as Northwestern Health Urgent Care in Wheaton, just a few miles from the College. Please note, however, that it is our understanding that you need to provide a doctor’s order to receive the test, ideally faxed in advance. If you intend to use a local Wheaton healthcare provider, call them well in advance to ensure you can meet their requirements.

Can I choose my seat in McCully Stadium?

Seating will be assigned onsite and guests will be directed to their assigned seats by Commencement ushers. If you wish to sit by a particular person, please plan to arrive with that person to be seated together. Saving seats will not be allowed. We ask that you keep distance between your party and the party seated next to you. Once you are seated, please stay in your seat until after Commencement is over and guests have been dismissed.

What kind of seating is available at McCully Stadium?

The bleachers in McCully Stadium are bench style. There are no seatbacks and the seats are metal, so you might want to bring a small blanket or cushion.

I have mobility challenges. What are the stairs like at the stadium?

Please be prepared to navigate the stadium steps. There are handrails, but the steps are very steep. Ushers will be on hand if you need assistance up and down the steps.

Is seating available for guests with physical disabilities?

Yes, there are limited handicap parking slots in the parking lot on the east side of Billy Graham Hall. Once inside McCully Stadium, ushers will direct those who require wheelchair access seating to a designated area. Each wheelchair seating spot has a seat for a guest to sit alongside.

Where are the nearest restroom facilities?

There are restrooms under the football stands and we will have portable outdoor facilities in the same location.

Once I am seated can I remove my mask?

Even though we will be outside, this event is considered to be a “large gathering” in Illinois, so all guests must wear masks for the ceremony. If you need to eat or drink while seated, please lift your mask for a quick bite or sip, then replace your mask.

What do I need in order to check in?

First, all guests need to register online. Please pre-register before Thursday, May 6 at midnight CST. We cannot promise that we can accommodate guests after that date.

Due to Illinois State Health restrictions, all guests will need to meet at least one of two qualifying criteria: 1) a complete COVID-19 vaccination dated at least two weeks prior to being on campus (only Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines allowed); 2) a negative COVID–19 PCR test within 72 hours of the ceremony. The PCR COVID-19 test is the only test we are allowed to accept in order to maintain attendance capacity. Antibody tests or other rapid antigen tests will not be accepted.

When you arrive at Commencement check-in, you will be asked to show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test. If you are not able to demonstrate that you meet one of these criteria, we are sorry, but you will not be permitted to attend Commencement.

Where do we check in?

Our Guest Check-in Tent will be located in the northeast corner of the Billy Graham Hall parking lot, just west of the stadium where Commencement will be held.

What are the check-in hours?

For Graduate School Commencement, the Guest Check-In Tent will be open Saturday from 12-2:30 pm. For Undergraduate Commencement, the Guest Check-in Tent will be open Sunday, May 9 from 7 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. The check-in process is highly complex, so please allow extra time to ensure that you are fully checked in before the stadium entrance closes. We encourage everyone to arrive at Guest Check-In as early as possible.

What time will the entrance gate open for Commencement?

For Graduate Commencement, the entrance gate will open Saturday at 1:30 pm. For Undergraduate Commencement, the gate will open Sunday at 8:30 am.

All guests will enter McCully Stadium through a single, designated gate and must show their official hand stamp to enter.

Will the entrance gate close before Commencement begins?

The gate will close, and no more guests allowed, promptly at 2:45 pm on Saturday for Graduate Commencement and at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday for Undergraduate Commencement, so please leave plenty of time to get checked in and settled in your seats. After the gate is closed, unseated guests will be directed to an alternate location on campus where they can watch a livestream of the ceremony.

Where should I park?

Some campus parking and street parking will be available. Please review the 2021 Commencement Parking Plan.

Is handicapped parking available near McCully Stadium?

Yes, there are limited handicapped parking slots in the parking lot on the east side of Billy Graham Hall. Once inside McCully Stadium, ushers will direct those who require wheelchair access seating to a designated area. Each wheelchair seating spot has a seat for a guest to sit alongside.

Is the College providing campus shuttles to and from McCully Stadium?

Campus shuttles will not be available, so please be prepared to walk a distance from where you park to the stadium.

How many guests are allowed at Commencement?

The Illinois Department of Health allows us to welcome two guests for each of our graduating students. We have coordinated this plan carefully with the City of Wheaton to maximize the number of guests allowed in this specific outdoor venue. While we are grateful that we can now accommodate guests, we truly regret that this late development may make it difficult for some of you to alter your plans in time to attend.

I am traveling with my family; can I bring my children to Commencement?

Each graduate is allowed two guests (any age) due to Illinois State capacity rules. For this reason, additional guests will not be allowed to attend Commencement, including siblings who are current Wheaton College students. The logistics of managing the required spacing for such a large crowd are highly complex, so we ask that non-approved guests not come to campus during the Commencement timeframe.

How do I register for Commencement?

Guests must complete the online registration form. You must register for your ticket by Thursday, May 6 at midnight CDT in order to be registered to attend. We cannot promise that we can accommodate guests after that date.

 After I have registered online, when will I receive my Commencement tickets?

There are no printed tickets for Commencement. When you arrive at Guest Check-in before Commencement and present your proof of vaccination or negative PCR test, you will receive a handstamp which will allow you entrance to the stadium. To maintain State of Illinois requirements, entry and seating will be tightly controlled.

What happens if it rains?

Commencement will proceed rain or shine, so please come prepared for the possibility of rain. If there is lightning or severe weather, guests will be dismissed to their vehicles and students and faculty will be dismissed to pre-designated buildings on campus.

How will the College communicate with me the day of Commencement if the ceremony is delayed or interrupted due to severe weather?

The College will post information on the Commencement website, social media channels, and email communication will be sent to registered guests as quickly as possible.

Where can I meet my graduate after the ceremony?

Guests will be asked to remain seated until the graduates and faculty exit the stadium, then ushers will guide guests out of the stadium in an orderly fashion. To avoid congestion on the narrow sidewalk, please plan to meet your graduate on the front lawn of campus or another location away from the stadium.

Is campus dining available to guests?

Dining services on campus will not be available to guests at anytime due to COVID restrictions. There are plenty of restaurant options in and around the Wheaton area.

When is my graduate’s last available meal through campus dining services?

Student meal plans end with dinner on Sunday night, May 9.

When and where can we take photos on campus?

You are welcome to take photos on campus if you follow the College’s COVID-Safe protocols (when outside, you can remain unmasked if you are six feet or more away from people not in your family and masked if you are closer than six feet).

We strongly recommended that you take photos as early as possible in the days leading up to Commencement. If you can do this, it will help alleviate large groups congregating around Wheaton’s most beloved photo locations.

Will Commencement be livestreamed and recorded?

Yes. Family and friends can livestream the Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement programs as they occur at wheaton.edu/watchcommencement. You can also view Commencement afterward at www.youtube.com/wheatoncollege.  

See the Full Commencement Week Event Schedule