Commencement Ceremony FAQs

Commencement Ceremonies are held once a year at the close of the Spring semester for graduates from all campuses celebrating their academic achievement. Participation is optional, and registration is required.

When is Commencement?

Commencement Ceremonies will be held Friday, April 30, 2021 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m. Graduates will be notified via FSW email of their assigned ceremony time. Due to the need for social distancing and other safety measures, requests to alter ceremony times cannot be honored.

Where are the Commencement Ceremonies being held?

Commencement Ceremonies will be held at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the Thomas Edison (Lee) Campus of FSW: 13551 FSW Parkway Fort Myers, FL 33919.

Commencement QR Code-Card

The Commencement QR Code-Card is required on Commencement day for admittance to the arena and contains the information verified via the Commencement application. On Commencement day, each graduate will present their QR Code-Card for recognition as they walk across the stage. The QR code in the bottom right corner will be used to display a text overlay of the graduate’s name and degree on the Jumbotron.

Graduates are required to pick up their QR Code-Card in the Office of the Registrar on the Lee Campus prior to the Commencement Ceremony. Photo ID is required for QR Code-Card pick up.

Lee Campus Office of the Registrar hours are:

  • Monday & Thursday*: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday & Wednesday: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
  • Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • *Extended hours Thursday, April 29: 8:30 a.m. -7:00 p.m. to accommodate graduates not able to collect their QR Code-Card sooner.

More FAQs

Guest Tickets

Do I need tickets for my guests to attend? How many can a graduate have? How do I get them?

Yes. Each graduate participating in the ceremonies will be allowed two (2) guest tickets. Two (2) guest tickets will be distributed via FSW email soon. Share your tickets with your guests by emailing or capturing a picture of the electronic tickets so you each have a copy.

The location of the guest seats are randomly assigned together in pairs. The seating will be in a “checkerboard” style so you will not be directly behind or in front of another couple, but diagonal to another couple. Graduates cannot select seats for their guests. Due to pandemic-related restrictions, there will not be an opportunity for a graduate to obtain additional tickets.

Infants and children two (2) years and younger will not require a ticket as long as they are sitting on an adult’s lap. All other guests will need a ticket.

Do graduates and guests need to wear a face covering while in the arena?

Yes. Face coverings are required for all who enter the arena. See the COVID-19 Safety section for more details.

Can tickets be transferred?

No. Tickets are non-transferable. Graduates not registering or attending Commencement will not be assigned tickets.

Will FSW Livestream the Commencement Ceremonies?

Yes! Guests who wish to enjoy remotely can view a livestream of the Ceremonies online, simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real-time. No tickets are required for access to this livestream service: https://www.fsw.edu/livestream

Will there be ADA seating/parking?

Yes. Limited ADA seating and parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For the College to effectively accommodate guests with disabilities, ADA attendees are permitted to have only one family member to accompany them in the designated area. Tickets for both individuals are still required for admittance.

Thank you in advance for honoring this procedure as it helps to ensure those who require ADA seating have the opportunity to participate equally. If other accommodations are needed, please contact the Office of Adaptive Services at 239-432-7354 or TTY1-800-955-8771.

What can my guests bring to the Ceremony? When can my guests arrive?

Permitted and prohibited items, the bag policy, and more information about guest expectations can be found in the Suncoast Credit Union Arena Policies section.

Participation & Signing Up for Commencement

Am I eligible to participate in Commencement?

That depends. Spring 2021 Commencement Ceremonies are designed to celebrate graduates who have completed their certificate and/or degree requirements in the Fall 2020 term and those who will be completing their requirements in the Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 terms. Summer graduates are encouraged to apply after registering for remaining courses.

The Office of the Registrar determines eligibility based upon the student’s academic record. Students will be notified via their FSW email regarding their status once they complete the Commencement application.

Do I have to sign up for the Commencement Ceremonies?

Yes, if you want to participate in Commencement. Although graduation is automatic, attending Commencement is not; therefore, you must complete the Commencement application by the published deadline on the Official College Calendar: https://www.fsw.edu/calendars.

An additional email will be sent with eligibility details to your FSW account within five business days.

Don’t delay! The deadline to apply late for the Commencement Ceremonies is Monday, April 26, 2021at 4:30 p.m.

Apply Now: https://www.fsw.edu/registrar/graduation/commencement_late

Is there a Commencement Ceremony fee?

No. There is not a charge to attend the Commencement Ceremonies or to view the Livestream broadcast. Regalia (cap, gown and tassel) can be purchased through the FSW Bookstore.

How else can I locate the Spring 2021 Commencement Ceremony application?

  1. Login to the FSW student portal
  2. Select ‘Student Academics’ in the top navigational menu
  3. Select ‘Spring 2021 Commencement Ceremony Application’
  4. Read and complete form, select ‘Submit Application’ when finished
  5. The Office of the Registrar will notify you of your eligibility to commence within 5 business days.

If I participate in Commencement, does this mean I graduated?

No. Participation in Commencement does not ensure a student’s degree has been awarded. Students must complete all academic requirements for the degree to be awarded.

Ceremony Details

When is Commencement?

Commencement Ceremonies will be held Friday, April 30, 2021.

Where are the Commencement Ceremonies being held?

Commencement Ceremonies will be held at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the Thomas Edison (Lee) Campus of FSW: 13551 FSW Parkway Fort Myers, FL 33919.

How many ceremonies will FSW hold for the Spring 2021 Commencement?

The number of Commencement Ceremonies will be determined based upon the number of eligible graduates who apply.

Which Ceremony do I attend?

The Office of the Registrar will determine a graduate’s eligibility to commence, and based on their degree/program will assign graduates to the appropriate Ceremony.

When will I know my Ceremony time?

All eligible graduates were notified via their FSW email on April 16th. Due to the need for social distancing, the Office of the Registrar is determining the number of graduates per Ceremony based on the number of applications received.

How long will each Ceremony last?

Generally, graduates and guests should plan on each Ceremony lasting approximately two hours.

Will FSW Livestream the Commencement Ceremonies?

Yes! Guests who wish to enjoy remotely can view a livestream of the Ceremonies online, simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real-time. No tickets are required for access to this livestream service: https://www.fsw.edu/livestream

Commencement Ceremony Program Booklet Consent

Students who have placed a confidentiality hold on their records should be aware their name will be withheld from any record releases (e.g., graduation lists, dean’s lists, honors lists) as well as publication in the Commencement program booklet. Graduates with this restriction will not have their name and home mailing address given to the Commencement Ceremony photographer. To reconsider, visit the Office of The Registrar to provide written consent.

How can I get a copy of the Commencement Program Booklet?

Graduates attending a Commencement ceremony will receive a commencement program booklet containing the names of the graduating class.

Please note this may not be an exhaustive list, and academic honors designations are determined based on cumulative GPA through the end of the Fall 2020 semester. Questions? Contact the Office of the Registrar: Graduation@fsw.edu

What about photography?

FSW is partnering with Lifetouch Special Events to provide professional photography services.

Graduate Portrait Day with Lifetouch's Pop-Up Studio

Suncoast Credit Union Arena: Thursday, April 29, 2021 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.

In addition to traditional pictures and special moments captured on Commencement day, graduates are invited to attend an exclusive, formal photography session at no cost to the graduate. Proofs will be emailed to FSW accounts approximately 10 business days after Commencement with an opportunity to purchase select packages. Appointments are required and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sign-up at: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/fswgraduationportraits2021. And find more information in this invitation to participate.

As an FSW graduate, all you need to do to participate is:

Note: This photo opportunity is optional and available to graduates whether or not they attend the Commencement Ceremonies.

Photography on Commencement Day

Professional photos will be captured as graduates cross the stage and exit down the ramp. These photos will be available for purchase. Proofs will be emailed to FSW accounts approximately 10 business days after Commencement.

Where should graduates and guests park?

Graduates may park in Lot 11 beside Building U with overflow parking in Lot 8 and Lot 10. A shuttle will take graduates from Building U to the arena; pick up locations will be designated with a sign. Guests may park in Lots 12, 18, and 19. View the lots with the 2021 Commencement Parking Map.

Will there be ADA seating/parking?

Yes. Limited ADA seating and parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For the College to effectively accommodate guests with disabilities, ADA attendees are permitted to have only one family member to accompany them in the designated area. Tickets for both individuals are still required for admittance.

Thank you in advance for honoring this procedure as it helps to ensure those who require ADA seating have the opportunity to participate equally. If other accommodations are needed, please contact the Office of Adaptive Services at 239-432-7354 or TTY1-800-955-8771.

Graduates and/or guests requiring ADA accommodation (with a valid ADA parking tag) may park in Lot 17 (parking is first-come, first-served). View the lot with the 2021 Commencement Parking Map.

What items can be brought to the Ceremony? When can my guests arrive?

Permitted and prohibited items, the bag policy, and more information about guest expectations can be found in the Suncoast Credit Union Arena Policies section.

How Can I Celebrate With My Graduating Class on Social Media?

Use #FSWGrad21 in your social media posts to share in the excitement of Commencement Day with your peers!

Seeking additional details?

For any questions or concerns you may have regarding the awarding of your certificate or degree and/or the annual Commencement Ceremonies, contact the Office of the Registrar: Florida SouthWestern State College, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers, Florida 33919. Phone: (239) 489-9121. Email: Graduation@fsw.edu

Students will be notified via FSW email with updates regarding the Commencement Ceremonies, graduation, and diploma processing.

We are all in this together. Go Bucs!

Regalia (Cap, Gown, Tassel, Medallions, etc.)

How do I purchase my regalia (cap, gown and tassel)? What about Honors and other ceremonial items such as the Baccalaureate Medallion and the Veteran recognition cord?

Online ordering has now closed for Commencement regalia. Check with the FSW Lee Campus Bookstore for available dates to pick-up your regalia and other ceremonial items. Photo ID must be presented for pick-up. You will have the option to select which campus is most convenient for you when completing the online order. Bookstore hours and locations can be found here: https://www.fsw.edu/bookstore

Can graduates decorate caps?

Yes. FSW encourages the expression of individuality by decorating the tops of graduation caps for the Ceremonies. Graduates are to use discretion when decorating. FSW will restrict anything determined as vulgar, obscene, or worn in a manner that disrupts school activity.

What is a Baccalaureate Medallion?

In recognition of earning a Baccalaureate degree, graduates will receive a medallion to distinguish their achievement.

What is a Veteran recognition cord?

In recognition of the sacrifices members of the armed forces have made for the nation, graduates registered with the Office of Veterans Services will be receiving a Veteran cord to help distinguish their accomplishments. FSW thanks you for your service!

What is “Honors,” and how is that determined?

Candidates receive honors recognition based on their cumulative GPA at the end of the preceding semester, since all grades will not have been processed prior to the Ceremonies. Honors cords for those who qualify will be available in the bookstore and can be picked up with your regalia (cap, gown and tassel).

Recognition of Honors at Commencement

If you are unsure if you qualify for honors designation, visit the Office of the Registrar three (3) weeks prior to the Ceremonies. We will not be staffed to take questions regarding GPA or honors on the day of the Ceremonies. Honors designations are not read during the Ceremonies, but will be denoted in the Commencement program booklet based on the previous semester’s cumulative GPA.

Candidates who have accumulated the minimum honors GPA requirements, prior to the term of graduation, will be recognized at the Commencement Ceremonies and will be provided with honor cords. Candidates who will become eligible for honors after the current term’s grades are recorded will not be recognized at the Commencement Ceremonies.

COVID-19 Safety

Will there be safety protocols during Commencement?

Yes. Face coverings and social distancing are required for all persons in the arena. Each graduate is limited to two (2) guests. Guests and graduates will be seated several feet apart from one another.

The only exception is graduates may temporarily remove their face covering as instructed by the photographer after they walk across the stage and down the ramp for their photo. There will be no opportunity for hand-shaking as graduates cross the stage.

There will be no formal processional and upon arrival, graduates should directly proceed to their seat as directed by event staff. Once the ceremony has concluded, there will be a recessional out of the arena.

All graduates and guests must exit the arena “bowl” and lobby as soon as the Ceremony is over. Guests will not be permitted to gather in the lobby after the Ceremony due to cleaning needs after each Ceremony.

FSW Statement Regarding Compliance with Face Coverings

FSW requires everyone to wear a face cover that completely covers the mouth and nose while inside the arena. Appropriate physical distancing from others is expected. The College is committed to making reasonable modifications to its rules, policies, and practices as required by law to afford individuals with disabilities equal opportunity to access its programs, services, and activities.

Will face coverings and social distancing be required?

Yes. All guests, faculty, staff and graduates are required to wear face coverings the entire time they are inside of the Suncoast Credit Union Arena.

Will graduates or guests be required to get COVID tests prior to attending the Ceremonies?

No. We ask that you not attend the Ceremony if you are exhibiting any symptoms or if you have been exposed to the coronavirus recently.

COVID-19 Reporting to FSW

Persons who have been at an FSW location and suspect they may have COVID-19 or have come in contact with others who may have COVID-19 should submit a report to FSW. As a member of the FSW community, everyone has a shared responsibility to do what is possible to slow the spread.

Suncoast Credit Union Arena Policies

When can my guests arrive for my Commencement Ceremony?

With increased security measures required of public assembly facilities, the Suncoast Credit Union Arena is encouraging guests to arrive no earlier than one hour prior to each Ceremony start time. Doors will open 60 minutes prior to Commencement.

How does FSW respond to guest misconduct?

FSW expects all guests to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner at all times before, during, and after the Commencement Ceremonies. FSW expects all guests to treat other guests and officials with courtesy. Guests should contact an arena event staff member or a police officer if they feel someone is not acting appropriately. Anyone trespassing on the floor, throwing anything onto the floor, using abusive and/or obscene language, or those deemed intoxicated will be subject to ejection and/or prosecution. If you witness a violation of any of these policies, contact any event staff, police, or public safety officer for assistance. Event staff will proactively intervene to support an environment where guests can enjoy themselves free from unacceptable behavior. Any guest not adhering to this code or behaving in an unruly manner will be removed from the facility.

Commencement event staff reserves the right to determine what unruly or unacceptable behavior is, warranting removal.

What additional security measures are in place?

To ensure safety, guests are requested to remove any outerwear (coats, sweaters, etc.) that can be easily taken off. Upon entry, everyone will be subject to intensive visual inspection and enhanced bag checks. Bulky and/or baggy clothing may be subject to additional security screening to include hand-held metal detectors. This will apply at all entrances.

The following bag policy and policies regarding permitted and prohibited items will be enforced at the Commencement Ceremonies. Additional COVID-19 safety measures can be found in the COVID-19 Safety section.

Bag Policy:

The Suncoast Credit Union Arena strongly encourages guests not to bring any type of bags, but permissible types include:

  • Bags that are clear/transparent, plastic, vinyl, or PVC and do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12”
  • One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).
  • Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the Arena with one of the clear plastic bags. Small bags must not exceed 4.5” x 6.5”.
  • An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection.
What is the policy about cameras and camera bags?
  • Camera bags are not permitted
  • Tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, or similar apparatuses that can obstruct aisles or others' views are not permitted Camera lenses – maximum length is six inches with no detachable lenses
  • Video, film, and digital cameras are permitted including those with interchangeable lenses. For both the safety and consideration of those around you, the following rules are in place:
The following items are permitted:
Prohibited items include:
  • Animals of emotional support are not permitted in the arena.
  • Any illegal substances or paraphernalia prohibited by Laws of the State of Florida
  • Artificial noisemakers such as airhorns and other irritants
  • Backpacks
  • Balloons
  • Banners
  • Beach balls
  • Cameras with detachable lenses
  • Confetti
  • All Firearms and Ammunition*
  • Fireworks
  • Frisbees
  • Flasks
  • Glass and aluminum containers
  • Helium balloons
  • Hoverboards
  • Knives, box cutters, Ice Pics or similar cutting devices
  • Laser pointers/pens
  • Mace, pepper spray, or other similar compounds
  • Outside food and beverages
  • Selfie sticks
  • Signs larger than 24 inches by 24 inches
  • Skateboards
  • Stadium Seats in excess of 18″ wide, with hard plastic or metal parts.
  • Tobacco products, Electronic cigarettes, Vape Pipes and products (FSW is a Tobacco Free Campus)
  • Video or audio recorders

*A concealed/carry license does not permit guests to enter the arena with firearms or ammunition. *Exceptions apply for active law enforcement officials with credentials present.