Cap and GownOur society has a load of events in which we engage in group behavior which psychologically changes us in subtle ways. Some we scoff as celebrations of mediocrity because of their ubiquity, but many are milestones which have longstanding benefits. One is graduation.

While very few people endorse the “graduation” ceremonies for such milestones of kindergarten and middle school, the high school graduation is a different animal because it signifies a change in status from student to adulthood, regardless of age.

Does Not Work

No.More and more, students are eschewing attending high school graduation ceremonies since they have suffered through so many before they ever get that far. They simply cannot see the benefit of the ceremony. There was no benefit to any of the others because they were followed by more of the same… more classes, more teachers, more homework, more, more, more of the same.

We have gutted the meaning of graduation. Our go-to definition of graduation is “the act of receiving a diploma or degree from a school, college, or university : the act of graduating”. There are no diplomas or degrees which are conferred at the end of kindergarten. Using a specific ceremony to celebrate an event we can tangentially equivocate with the original intent often denigrates the true execution of the ceremony.


unequalThe reasons graduation should not be ubiquitous are celebration, achievement and equity. The pomp and circumstance of the ceremony is meant to celebrate the completion of the course work necessary to attain a degree. It should be special, not something done each time we make a ham sandwich.

Those with doctorates are immensely proud of the dedication it took to study, draft a thesis and complete the requisite hours. Graduation should the celebration of the massive achievement of following a commitment of years to get a degree.


The symbolic nature of how we celebrate graduation produces the equity. The traditional ceremony is with cap and gown. By putting the students into the same clothing, it makes them equal as they exit a place which pitted them against one another for grades and accolades. It is a end to all the competition, where they are receiving their reward for satisfactory completion.

The cap and tassel are symbolic of passing from one stage of life (student) to another (employee). Each graduate does it just like the one before and the one after.

Symbolically, all students enter the job market on an level playing field with their peers. It gives graduates the feeling they have just as much chance as the next person and are just as worthy as the ones who excelled in the skirmishes along the way. Graduation is the last thing students do as a complete peer group. After the ceremony, they go their separate ways in every way: individually, physically, corporately, ideologically. The ceremony itself is designed to be a equitable experience meant to bring about a sense of well-being.


Parents are endorsing their students’ choice to forego a rite of passage which has become trite through misuse. Why do they not object to the misuse and endorse the skipping of the real deal?

What will it take to get back to pure celebration of graduation? What do you remember of your last graduation? Why do parents look the other way?

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  1. I don’t know that a high school education is as societally valued as it once was, to say noting of graduation…
    El Guapo recently posted..The 7:59My Profile

    • I do not believe we value anything anymore. When we celebrate every single grade, how is getting the last year any better or an accomplishment?

  2. I really appreciate article like this. It’s very informative and I learned something from here. Thanks for sharing it.
    Dylann Andre recently posted..5 Retail Marketing IdeasMy Profile

  3. You are right, we do not value these important passages. We make them trivial, thus our children do not understand their value.

    Everything is brass instead of gold.

  4. Along the way, a dinner at home with the family should suffice having passed kindergarten. As much fuss as is made over every little advancement, it d.o.e.s.n’t differentiate the degree of accomplishment a high-school diploma earns over middle-school.
    Today’s kids are spoiled too much and do not understand the value of ‘special’ as we did when I was a kid.
    Tess recently posted..Guangzhou: Day 1, Part 3 to ZhongshanMy Profile

    • Exactly. I have no idea where it went awry; although I am disgusted my generation has participated and made it what it is today.

  5. “not something done each time we make a ham sandwich.”

    Hey wait a minute! I spent 4 years learning how to do this. Have a little respect for my education. Soon I will begin a PhD in pizza making.

  6. Grrr! This is one of my biggest peeves! Thankfully, when my children were going through school, the only graduation was at the end of high school.

    Younger children don’t need a prize for simply getting older. Their independent achievements should be noted and applauded by parents, and not the society as a whole. It’s meaningless to me.

    • I know… Mine was just just sent home with her second graduation pack. This one is for elementary school. Whilst I may be able to tolerate a ceremony for those children not expected to survive to the end of their school careers, I see it only as a single classroom celebration to promote a familial nature to the class. Other than that, wait for the real McCoy. xxx


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