Commencement FAQs

Accommodations for Commencement

Because guest rooms at Sweet Briar’s Elston Inn are limited, it is a tradition here to hold a lottery to give families an equal chance at reserving an on-campus room for Commencement. The lottery is completed and was the only way to book a room at the Elston Inn for 2023 Commencement weekend.

However, there are a number of other places to stay in the area.

Information from the Office of the Registrar

All students, undergraduate and graduate, must submit their graduation application to the Registrar’s Office by mid-October. Any academic changes (i.e. adding or dropping a minor) must also be finalized at this time. If a student intends to graduate in September or December, she should communicate her intentions no later than the preceding semester.

Financial Obligations of Seniors

Graduating students must settle all of their financial obligations with the Business Office before they may receive their diploma. If you need assistance with your account, please call 434-381-6335 and email

End of Year Residence Hall Move-Out Procedures

Graduating Seniors must be completely moved out no later than 12 p.m. on Sunday, May 14.

Students will be billed $100 per hour for overstaying. All students should return their residence hall room keys to their RC or Residence Life staff member checking them out.

All students must schedule an appointment to have their room reviewed by your RA, RC, or other Student Life staff before leaving. If students do not complete their checkout with Residence Life staff, the student’s account will be charged the $200 Improper Checkout fee, and the student takes full liability for any damages or cleaning assessed.

Required Cleaning

Your room should be left in the same condition you found it. All students are required to:

  • Return furniture to its original position (no furniture in closets, all beds assembled, everything in correct room)
  • Sweep the floor and/or vacuum carpets
  • Dust off all surfaces, cabinets, and drawers
  • Remove all adhesive, putty, tape, etc. from walls and furniture
  • Unplug, defrost, and clean the refrigerator/microwave (J Melvin Corp will come to collect later if you rented)
  • Clean kitchen (counters, cabinets, and appliances) and bathrooms (toilets, tub, and sink) [Suites and Green Village only]
  • Dispose of all trash in hallway bins
  • Close and lock windows, pull shades/blinds down, and lock all doors.

You must check out immediately prior to leaving the space. Once you lock the door behind you, there will be no re-access.

Senior Robes/Club Materials

Graduating Seniors who are still in possession of any decorated senior robes or club materials that need to be passed on to new officers should bring these items to student life before leaving campus. Please leave them in the lobby with a note clearly stating your name, the items you are leaving, and who the items should go to.

If you are an SGA, CEO, ICC, or MCC officer with Reid Pit office keys issued to you, please return those to Student Life before leaving campus.

Commencement Photography

Click here to see photos taken by Cassie Foster of the Class of 2023’s Commencement, Awards Ceremony, Baccalaureate, and other senior week activities.

What is the difference between graduation and commencement?

The term “graduation” refers to the completion of all degree requirements as recorded on the official transcript. Students will be marked as “graduated” once the Office of the Registrar has officially confirmed that all degree requirements have been met. Graduation (degree completion) may be confirmed before or after participation in the commencement ceremony.

Commencement” is the ceremony that celebrates the culmination of the Sweet Briar experience and most often occurs near the completion of the degree. However, participation in the commencement ceremony, including the publication of the names of candidates in the commencement program, does not imply that a student has graduated.

Graduation Announcements

Personalized graduation announcements and stationary accessories are now available to order from Herff Jones: