General Information

Below are frequently asked questions about Commencement. If you have other questions, please call the Office of College Communications at 507-222-4308 or e-mail

Where can we order graduation-related items?

Many items are available year-round from the Carleton Bookstore.  Graduation announcements are available here.  Other items, such as rings and diploma frames are available to order here.

Where does a senior get a cap and gown for Commencement?

During the Senior Showcase in Severance Great Hall on Thursday, May 3, graduating seniors had the opportunity to purchase their caps and gowns. The price that day was $49.98.  Caps and gowns can still be ordered after the Senior Showcase at a price of $54.98.

These "EarthGrad" gowns are unique and the only one of its kind to be fully sustainable and certified as being manufactured from 100% recycled materials. The fabric has a luxurious, soft, woven feel with a matte finish.  By choosing these gowns, Carleton College is having a positive impact on the environment by saving the equivalent of 74 bottles from the landfill; mitigating the effects of global warming by using fewer than 3.9 lbs of CO2 emissions or greenhouse gas; and saving the energy equivalent to 1.25 gallons of gas.  This earth-friendly and environmentally conscious choice generates demand for recycled materials, creates jobs and reduces the amount of materials that go into landfills.

Seniors will pick up their caps and gowns in the Carleton Bookstore during regular business hours in Senior Week.  Caps and gowns become the property of the graduate and do not need to be returned following the Commencement ceremony.

How can items be shipped home?

Carleton Mail Services provides UPS, FedEx and USPS services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Shipping services are also provided at Graphic Mailbox, located at 204 West 7th Street in the River Park Mall across from Wells Fargo Bank (phone 507-645-1610). Open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Open Commencement Day (Saturday, June 9) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Graphic Mailbox has boxes and also provides packing services for students.

The UPS Store in Faribault (320 NW 4th Street, phone 507-332-6772) is also open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

When should families plan to arrive in Northfield?

Activities for graduating seniors and their families take place throughout the day Friday, June 8, and the Commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday morning, June 9. Please review the Schedule of Events and determine the arrival that works best for you and your family.

Is transportation provided between the airport and campus?

Although Carleton College does not operate any transportation between the campus and the airport, visitors to campus are encouraged to check out the transportation providers described here.

Can family members stay overnight on campus?

Carleton College has a limited number of rooms available in the residence halls during Commencement Weekend for guests of graduating seniors. See Housing Information for more details.

What motels and hotels are in the Northfield area?

We encourage you to make reservations for overnight accommodations as soon as possible. A list of Northfield Area Hotels and Motels is provided for your convenience.

Where is Commencement held?

Carleton's Commencement ceremony is held outdoors on the lawn west of Hulings Hall. Commencement will be held rain or shine. Although there are several shade trees, some seating is in the direct sun. We advise you to bring water and to consider wearing a hat and sunglasses for your comfort.  Water bottles can be filled in Hulings Hall, Skinner Chapel, or Sayles-Hill and water bottle refilling stations are located outside at both ends of the Bald Spot for your convenience. 

Will tickets be needed for the ceremony?

Seating is available to accommodate all guests, whether outdoors or indoors. No tickets are required.

Where should families park vehicles?

Parking on campus is very limited, but there is plenty of street parking available south of the campus.

What time should families arrive for the Commencement ceremony?

You can arrive as early as you like. We ask that you be in your seats by 9:20 a.m. and that the aisles be kept open for the processional. We also ask that you keep the aisles open throughout the ceremony and take care to not block the view of other guests.

Out of respect for others, we ask that there be no artificial noise makers, air horns or megaphones used during the ceremony.

Can photographs be taken during the ceremony?

You may take photographs during the ceremony from your seat. In order to avoid obstructing the view of others, please do not approach the stage area or stand in the aisles.

For your convenience, Carleton College has arranged with GradImages® for a professional photographer to take a photo of each graduate receiving the diploma from President Poskanzer, a second posed photo after leaving the stage, and a third close up photo.

In order to be notified you when your images are available for viewing, GradImages sends both emails and mails paper proofs, along with optional text message notifications. Your information is never shared and privacy is guaranteed. Pre-register your information to make sure your contact information is up-to-date with GradImages, so they can provide your complimentary proofs as quickly as possible. There is never any obligation to order, and by pre-registering, you'll save 20% off an order of $50 or more for your participation. You may pre-register for your commencement proofs here.  Your proofs will be ready to view online here as early as 48-72 hours after the ceremony. 

Carleton does not benefit from this arrangement; it is provided as a service to graduates and their families. GradImages® guarantees complete satisfaction with your photograph package or you will receive a full refund.

If you have any questions regarding your photos, please contact GradImages Customer Service at 800-261-2576 or via email at

A member of my family has mobility impairment and requires special access for the ceremony. How may we arrange for this?

No advance arrangements are required. The parking lot east of Skinner Memorial Chapel on First Street will be reserved for dropping off people with mobility impairments and will have parking spaces for vehicles with handicap permits. A short distance down the sidewalk will be a seating section for those with special access needs (and members of their parties); wheelchairs and scooters can be parked in this area. Ushers will be available to assist.

A diagram of the ceremony site indicating the seating areas can be found here

How do we request a sign language interpreter?

If you require the services of a Sign Language Interpreter, please make advance arrangements with the Office of College Relations at 507-222-4309.

Where can snacks or other last-minute items be purchased on Saturday?

The café in Sayles-Hill will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and the bookstore will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The bookstore carries batteries, sun block, sunglasses, umbrellas, and other last-minute supplies that may be needed.

In an effort to reduce waste, guests and students are encouraged to bring their own drinking container. Water filling stations are located near the ceremony site. 

Can I purchase flowers for my graduate?

The Mortar Board Honors Society in conjunction with SERV (Senior Engagement through Rewarding Volunteering), will be selling bouquets of flowers at Commencement for families to purchase to honor their graduates. There will be a booth set up along the sidewalk at the southwest corner of the seating area starting one hour before the ceremony and available throughout the morning for your convenience. Carleton's SERV and the Mortar Board Honors Society thank you for your support.

Who will be the speakers at this year's Commencement ceremony?

Following President Poskanzer’s opening remarks,  two graduates will address the Class of 2018, families and friends, and faculty at this year’s Commencement ceremony:  Adriana Castillo, an American Studies/Educational Studies major from South Houston, Texas; and Walter Paul, a Political Science/International Relations/Political Economy/Arabic major from Omaha, Nebraska.  In addition, Carleton College will confer honorary doctorate degrees upon two distinguished recipients:  Hong Kong businessman Karl Kwok '71 and Minneapolis humorist and playwright Kevin Kling.  Mr. Kling will also give a brief address. 

Karl C. Kwok ’71 serves as Chairman of the Board of the Wing On group, which owns one of Hong Kong’s largest department store chains as well as interests in car dealerships, real estate and financial services. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government at Carleton and a Master of Business Administration degree from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Beyond his business success, Kwok is well known for his passion for open-ocean yacht racing, something he has participated in since 1979. Having won races around the world, he is on a mission to race in all the world’s biggest sailing races and to promote the sport in Hong Kong. Interestingly, although he had lived near the sea all his life, the first time he ever sailed was as a Carleton student with his Northfield host family at their cabin on French Lake, outside Faribault. Kwok also serves as vice-president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong. He was conferred Honorary Fellowship by City University of Hong Kong in 2008 and The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2017 for services rendered to both universities. He also received a Medal of Honor from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government in 2011 for his contribution to sports development in Hong Kong.   Mr. Kwok will be awarded the degree Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.

Kevin Kling, best known for his popular commentaries on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and his storytelling stage shows like “Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log,” delivers hilarious, often tender stories.  Kling’s autobiographical tales are as enchanting as they are true to life: hopping freight trains, getting hit by lightning, performing his banned play in Czechoslovakia, growing up in Minnesota, and eating things before knowing what they are. He describes his zodiac sign as “Minnesota with Iowa rising…” Kling graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater. His storytelling started when a friend from the now defunct Brass Tacks Theatre asked him to perform his stories. Since then, he has been awarded numerous arts grants and fellowships.  Kling has not been slowed in his work despite a congenital birth defect (shortened left arm with no wrist or thumb) and a near fatal motorcycle accident that completely paralyzed his right arm. He continues to write plays and stories in a rigorous fashion, and travels around the globe to numerous storytelling festivals and residencies. He has released a number of compact disc collections of his stories and has published five books.  Mr. Kling will be awarded the degree Doctor of Letters honoris causa

What other activities will be taking place during Commencement Weekend?

A variety of celebratory festivities are planned for the weekend.  The Schedule of Events will be updated as further activities are planned, so check back often.

Can the Commencement ceremony be viewed online?

Yes, Carleton College will offer a live stream of the Commencement ceremony for those unable to celebrate with their graduate in person. To "tune in" that morning, friends and family can go to this link. Streaming video of the event will begin at 9:15 a.m. CDT and will last to the conclusion of the ceremony at about 11:30 a.m. Afterwards, the Commencement video will be archived online at the same web address, for anyone wishing to view it later. In person or online, we look forward to sharing this special celebration with you!