College Graduation

College graduation ceremonies are exciting events because they celebrate a students completion of a rigorous endeavor. Because students in college refine their learning by focusing their coursework in a particular field of study (such as English, Computer Science or Sociology), graduating from college marks the biggest academic accomplishment of a students life up to this point.

Unlike other graduation ceremonies, college graduations generally consist of two ceremonies, a general commencement that includes the entire graduating class and a smaller ceremony that only includes the graduates from a particular field of study. While the larger commencement ceremony occurs first, generally before graduates have completed their finals, all of the smaller graduations take place after this opening commencement, which can occur during or after graduates have taken their final exams.

Another unique feature of college graduations is that most tend to invite famous, well-respected academics, politicians, actors or humanitarians to come speak at both the larger and smaller graduations ceremonies.

Whether you are receiving your associates or bachelors degree, took four or more years to complete your college education or are planning on taking one last course during the summer, attending both the commencement and the smaller graduation associated with your field of study is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Keep reading to learn more about how to prepare for your college graduation.

Graduation Caps, Gowns, Announcements and Class Rings

Like high schools, colleges and universities generally affiliate with graduation gear distributors who offer packages that include graduation caps, gowns and announcements. Just as you did for your high school graduation, you will need to be fitted for a cap and a gown a few months before your graduation date.

You will also need to send out announcements and graduation tickets. Keep in mind that you should send out college graduation announcements a bit earlier than the three weeks that is recommended for high school graduation announcements.

Because many college students attend schools that are far from home or have family members spread out across the United States, sending out announcements four to six weeks before the graduation date is a good way to ensure that your closest relatives and friends will have enough time to make arrangements to celebrate your graduation with you.

Although your guests may want to attend the larger commencement, the smaller ceremony for your school of study is the most relevant part of the college graduation for them to attend, as this is the ceremony in which you will be walking across stage to receive your diplomas. Similar to high school graduations, the real diplomas arent distributed in the ceremony itself. College graduates will have to pick up or arrange to have their diplomas sent to them a few weeks after the ceremony.

The College Graduation Ceremony

The commencement and the smaller graduations are different in nature. Generally, the Commencement includes:

  • an opening speech by the Master of Ceremonies (i.e. the Dean of Students, a Regent of the University or some other top official of the school)
  • a performance of the schools alma mater song by the choir or some other talented chorus group
  • a speech by a keynote speaker who is generally a famous, well respected academic, politician, actor or humanitarian
  • a procession of the graduates that doesnt include a distribution of diplomas
  • closing remarks.
  • While the smaller graduation ceremony contains all of the above elements, the main differences are:
  • Opening remarks are made by the head of that department of study, rather than the Dean.
  • The keynote speaker is someone who is respected in that particular field of study (i.e. A graduation for an English department may invite a poet laureate or a winner of the Noble piece prize for literature to speak at the event).
  • In the procession of graduates, as the name of each is read by a professor in that department, the graduate walks across stage to receive his diploma.

College Graduation Receptions and Parties

Some colleges and universities host informal receptions after each smaller graduation ceremony in which students, parents and professors can mingle. Typically, these receptions occur on campus, close to the area of the ceremony. Refreshments, such as champagne, strawberries and other small finger foods, are usually served at these graduation receptions.

Gifts for College Graduates

When considering what to give a college graduate, choose a gift that is enduring and will remind the graduate of this point in his or her life for years to come. Here are some gift ideas for college graduates:

  • a family heirloom
  • a fine bottle of wine or champagne
  • a nice frame in which to display the diploma
  • a trip to Europe, Asia or anywhere else the graduate has wanted to travel
  • jewelry
  • money or bonds to help fund further education.