How to: Graduates' evening

As student workers, we know the difference it makes when a young person has been prepared well for university life.

How easily, though, can we forget to do the same for them as they prepare to graduate? Libby Granges, student worker at City Church Aberdeen, shares her top tips, ‘how to’s and experience of running a preparation for graduation evening...

We decided to do a Graduates’ evening because we felt not only is it important for us to equip our school leavers, but it is also critical to equip our students for the next stage of life. We not only wanted to specifically invest into this transitional season but also to celebrate what they have done for the 4/5 years they have been part of the family. It honours them as well as invests in one of the biggest changes in a young adult’s life. We really want to practically set them up to win, rather than them look back and wish someone had told them about this. We also thought it was very important to pray and commission them to go, and whilst we do that on a Sunday morning/evening with their whole church family around them, we thought it would be beneficial to also have more time and space for that.

We put on an evening celebrating what had been and preparing them for what was coming next.

Key things we had to bear in mind:

  • Who is speaking? We had a panel of 5 people with over 80 years of workplace/Christian ministry experience.
  • What is the gold you want to draw out from them to pass onto your students? Create specific questions.
  • What is your vision for the night? If they take one or two things away from the evening what are they?
  • Pray for them - allow God the space to meet with them in an uncertain/exciting/nerve wracking time.
  • Can you get outside organisations involved? We had the careers service from the Uni’s information, guides and business cards there.

Top tips:

  • Create a buzz! Get people excited about it - create some nice imagery and share the vision.  We had students bringing friends because they knew it would be really good.
  • How can you make it feel special? Keep some things for the evening that they don’t know about as a nice surprise. We served Canapes, made a scroll for each of them with a Bible verse scripted out and did a mini photo booth with huge balloons!
  • Document it! Its something to remember but also speaks volumes to younger students about the honour and celebration culture.
  • Get your church pastors and folks in the church to help serve and support the evening. It means so much to the students and is a good opportunity to connect the generations.
  • Get creative, think what can they take away from the night as a reminder of their church family/community - our scrolls were our creative take away.
  • One person, when they opened the scroll we had written for them and read the verse, found it was the same verse their mentor had given them that day. They had been asking God to speak in a certain area and he had, loud and clear, on the same day.

Preparation for Graduation

Do you do preparation for graduation with your students?  What does it look like in your context? How can you help your students prepare for life after university? What will be their biggest challenges? Being a Christian in the workplace; losing their close-knit peer community, moving back in with parents, struggling with decisions over career choices, or going into a time of unemployment? How will you create a space for them to meet with God, process this season, celebrate their time as students and prepare for the next adventure?

The A-Z for life after university

Check out the Graduate Alphabet. Its a great book for those graduating from uni. Consider using it as a commissioning gift for your graduates.

The Graduate Alphabet

Pippa Elmes

Ministry Training Leader

Pippa supports those in church based student ministry to do their job really well. She loves challenging churches to work with students and equipping them to pioneer new mission opportunities to reach students.                     

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