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Pomp and Circumstance: How to Celebrate New York Graduation Season in Style

With the graduation ceremonies of New York’s colleges and universities imminent, excitement is in the air. Make sure you take full advantage of this special time!

Campuses around the city are aflutter as students anticipate the culmination of another year of hard work. But with the end of the semester approaching, that also means the arrival of an indispensable annual tradition (beyond the finals crush and summer vacation, of course). The daffodils are in full bloom, and that means graduation is just around the corner.

After years of studious work, students and families alike will descend upon the city this month to collect diplomas and celebrate the beginning of a new chapter. Four major colleges and universities call New York City home, and all four are celebrating commencement within three weeks of each other. Here’s everything you need to know to mark this momentous occasion in style.

New York University

New York University’s 185th commencement ceremony will begin a little after eleven in the morning. Over 8,000 students are expected to attend, in addition to their guests (each candidate is allowed to bring three). Given this immense volume, every class is recognized as a group (rather than individually) by their respective deans, with one student acting as the class representative. Each of the 17 schools and three programs host individual graduation ceremonies or receptions at smaller venues around the city. This year, Grammy-winning artist Pharrell Williams will be delivering the guest address.

NYU’s commencement ceremony will take place on May 17 at Yankee Stadium, 1 E. 161th St, Bronx, NY 10451.

Columbia University

Columbia University’s graduation ceremony is also taking place on May 17, at 10:30am. The commencement exercises will take place in the heart of the school’s Morningside campus (rain or shine!). While entry to the event is guaranteed with possession of a ticket, seats are given on a first-come, first-served basis. And given that more than 30,000 people are expected to attend the main event this year, the earlier you arrive, the better. Additionally, each of the 18 individual schools and programs will hold their own ceremonies during commencement week.

Columbia University’s commencement ceremony will take place on May 17 at its campus, 116th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10027.

Fordham University

Back in the Bronx on May 21, students of Fordham University will come together on the Rose Hill Campus for the school’s 175th commencement exercises. Tickets are only required for the diploma ceremonies held in Manhattan for the Gabelli School of Business, the Graduate School of Social Service, and the School of Law. The ceremonies will begin with the ringing of the Victory Bell, which signals the start of the procession led by students of Fordham’s oldest school: Fordham College at Rose Hill.

Fordham University’s commencement ceremony will take place on May 21 at its Rose Hill campus, 441 E. Fordham Rd, Bronx, NY 10458.

Hunter College

Some 3,000 students will be receiving their diplomas at Hunter College’s spring commencement, one of its two annual commencement exercises. The ceremony, which officially kicks off at 3pm, is taking place this year on May 30 at Radio City Music Hall. Guest should arrive at 2pm with tickets at the ready, and can expect the event to last three hours.

Hunter College’s commencement ceremony will take place on May 30 at Radio City Music Hall, 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020.

After the Ceremonies

With the exception of Hunter College, the city’s commencement exercises all begin before noon, and punctuality is paramount for these events. This isn’t the day for leisurely brunch plans; the party comes after.

For your post-ceremony photos, there’s plenty of New York scenery to make the shots as memorable as the graduation events themselves. For students graduating from NYU, Yankee Stadium offers up its plazas with blooming flowers for photos before guests claim their seats inside (sit with your school, but sit in the shade trust us). Columbia students will find that the typically picture-perfect quad on the Morningside Heights campus will be inundated with people this morning. Don’t fret: Riverside Park is only a couple of blocks to the west, and the Hudson River is as fine a backdrop as Low Library.

At Fordham, Keating Hall will serve as a prime backdrop for photos and conveniently, it is also where the ceremony officially begins. For the Hunter crowd, there really isn’t a more college in New York setting than Rockefeller Plaza. Don’t bother going off to find someplace more ideal; this is your spot, folks.

Once you’ve taken your photos, grab your closest friends and family members and make your way to a neighborhood bar or restaurant for an afternoon of celebration. This is probably the only time that you and your classmates will be in the city with nothing to do but revel in your accomplishments, so allow time to simply enjoy being where you are.

The best part? Now, with Affinia’s Free Nights offer, the longer you stay, the more you save. If you stay three nights, you pay for two; stay for four, pay for three. Those are deals worth some pomp and circumstance.

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