The invitations are out and finals are over.

All you need to do now is to stop at Michaels to buy the decorations for your cap. That way, it’ll be easier for your family to find you in the crowd. You know there will be a lot of other students graduating with you, but it’s only a four hour affair, right?

For anybody who’s been to a graduation ceremony before, you know that the fun doesn’t start until someone is reading names off a card while you’re rushed across the stage to pick up an empty certificate folder and stumble down the other side, blinded by the photographer you didn’t even know was taking your picture. And that’s it. You’re done.

But I digress. On Dec. 12 and 13 you will be participating in a time honored ceremony that brings pomp and circumstance to the toil and trouble you’ve endured learning how to think, how to create, how to research and how to find truth and meaning in the tiniest details.

If it’s been a while since your last commencement ceremony (or if you just want some insight into what’s going on), here’s the breakdown on what can expect to happen at UCF’s Fall 2014 Graduation Ceremony:

Each ceremony begins an hour-and-a-half before anybody gets up on stage to speak. This means you need to find a parking spot an hour before that. Keep in mind, UCF wants you park in C, D, and F; but you know better than that. The campus roads are going to be filled with stressed out parents and crazy aunts and screaming kids all rushing to find Gemini Boulevard and missing their turns and freaking out because they need to get a good seat. You’ve been at this campus long enough to know that the easiest place to park will be H and I. Plus that gives you a chance to stop at Starbucks before you trek down Memory Mall.

UCF is not lining up by GPA, nor alphabetically. You, along with a swarm of other students you’ve never seen before, will be rounded up and lined up according to your school. Where you stand in the line determines where you sit for the ceremony. Front of the line equals front seat, etc.

I’ve heard it said that the best place to sit is in the back. That way once it’s your turn to cross the stage, the whole thing is over and you’re free to go. Compared to crossing the stage early and then you’re stuck for another hour waiting, wondering if your family got a good picture of you stumbling across stage, laughing because the announcer doesn’t know how to pronounce your friend’s name or crying because you your hair was in the way when the photographer took your picture. Once you’re sitting down, the fun begins. You’ll hear from faculty and staff, the Valedictorian, and a special guest speaker.

On Friday, Alan Ginsberg will be guest-speaking to graduates of the College of Education and Human Performance, the College of Health and Public Affairs, and the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Alan Ginsberg is a big-time donor to UCF and many Central Florida establishments. According to his bio-page on the Lowndes Attorney page, he’s donated millions of dollars to the Rollins Hamilton Holt School, is active in UCF’s Jewish studies and its Hillel Foundation, but what he is might be best known for is his $4 million dollar donation to UCF’s College of Medicine.

Saturday’s commencement ceremony is graduating students from the College of Medicine, the College of Optics and Photonics, The College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Business administration. But you lot will be hearing from guest-speaker Beverly Seay, a chair on the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s deans advisory board, STEM advocate and member of the UCF Board of Trustees.

The College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Nursing, the College of Sciences, the College of Graduate Studies, and the Office of Undergraduate Studies will all be graduating on Friday afternoon. That’s Friday the 12th. You, my fellow graduates, will have the privilege of listening to the 2012 Orlando Magazine’s 46th most powerful person in Orlando – a man best known for being Central Florida’s very own Olivia Pope. He is a founding member of the UCF Board of Trustees, is on the Board of Directors for ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, and is the CEO of Knob Hill Companies, and was the Senior Vice-president of Corporate Affairs for Darden Restaurants.

But it doesn’t really matter who you get to listen to. You’re graduating. After it’s all done, take the back roads off campus. Keep away from minivans and make your way safely to the nearest bar that doesn’t have the word “knight” in its name. You did it!