How to Celebrate College Graduates in Your Area

Commencement season is an exciting time! For many branches and Younger Women’s Task Force (YWTF) chapters, it’s the perfect recruitment opportunity. Use this guide to help plan programming in conjunction with your local colleges or universities.

Step 1: Build your list.

Create your list of students to whom you can reach out by locating your local college/university member schools and AAUW student organizations. You can also use the Member Services Database to collect the names of the student associates in your area. Contact local C/U representatives, women’s centers, and student leadership offices to identify students who should be contacted.

Step 2: Tailor what you do to your branch.

Recognizing college grads can be as easy as sending a congratulatory email. Start your message with words of encouragement and include information about AAUW, your branch, and the free membership available to recent graduates. Invite grads to reach out to a local AAUW branch or YWTF chapter wherever they begin their career.

Step 3: Take it to the next level!

Many branches celebrate students with an end-of-the-year event. It’s a busy time of year, but you can work with your campus contacts to identify an appropriate location, day, and time. Consider holding your event several weeks before the institution’s commencement to encourage attendance. Here are examples of events to consider:

Host a reception for graduating students. Inspire your attendees by inviting a successful career-driven community member to talk about her experiences and encourage students to persist in their career aspirations. If it’s for women in a specific field, invite a doctoral student in a related field or an AAUW fellow or grantee to speak at the event.

AAUW graduate cords. Buy them as gifts or buy them for yourself.

Buy an AAUW cord for your graduates today.

Step 4: Order AAUW graduation cords.

Whether you choose to plan an event or simply send an email, Order AAUW graduation cords through ShopAAUW so that students can show their AAUW pride when they walk across the stage!

Step 5: Get your graduate to sign up for Work Smart Online!

Make sure graduating students know how to negotiate their salaries and benefits when they’re applying for their first jobs out of college! Tell them to sign up for Work Smart Online, AAUW’s free online course on salary negotiation.

Step 6: Make it meaningful.

Highlight the accomplishments of the graduating students. You could

  • share messages from faculty and administrators about the students,
  • ask event speakers to share words of encouragement,
  • print a brief program book featuring each student at an event,
  • ask graduates to share their favorite college experience or proudest moment at the event, or
  • highlight how AAUW can be a lasting part of their lives.

Step 7: Use available resources.

These AAUW resources can help make your efforts shine:

Have questions or additional ideas for recognizing your local graduates? Email



women in a crowd protesting and holding signs

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Two ladies in AAUW colors, one in a bright blue shirt, and the other with a blue and green paisley scarf, smile for a photo.

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You've gotten her this far ... Now give you grad the gift of membership. (It's free!)

Give a Grad a Gift

Current AAUW members can give unlimited FREE national memberships to college graduates who earned their degrees within the last two years.