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Attending Graduation: To Go or Not To Go

Wearing the mortarboard can be very satisfying after years of hard work.

Wearing the mortarboard can be very satisfying after years of hard work.

Attending graduation after earning a degree can be one of the most satisfying moments in a person's life. Yet, many people decide that attending their own graduation is not terribly important and decide not to show up.

It is true that attending graduation can be a time-consuming proposition and there may be a long speech an many other people to watch, but unless there are major obstacles to actually showing up, the college or grad school graduation can be a very fulfilling moment that is but the culmination of years of hard work and the commencement of a new stage in life.

Academic regalia on display at the Free University of Berlin.

Academic regalia on display at the Free University of Berlin.

Reasons Not to Attend Graduation

This article will start with the bad news and then move on to the good news. Many people refuse to show up for their own graduations. Therefore, there must be some reasonably good reasons to do so. Here are some of the more common reasons why people stay home on their graduation day, rather than attending the ceremony.

  1. It's Too Hot--Many colleges and universities hold their graduation ceremonies outdoors, usually at a football field. During the month of May, it is possible for much of the country to experience sweltering conditions that make the black graduation gowns especially hot and sticky. Many people want to avoid this smelly experience altogether. I was fortunate for my undergraduate graduation, because the temp was in the 40s and the college moved the ceremony inside. Of course, the flip side of this argument might be that it's too cold.
  2. It's Too Long--Graduation ceremonies are well-known for being long affairs that tend to have boring speaker who speak for a very lengthy amount of time. After the commencement address, there is then the process of waiting around to hear your name called to walk across the stage while hundreds, if not thousands, of other students go before you. Of course, those who are at the front of the line get their degrees early, and then get to sit for hours while others get their degrees.
  3. It's Too Far Away--For much of American history, this was not a legitimate excuse for missing graduation. However, with the advent of online education, people on the other side of the country, or even the world, can earn a degree from an institution of higher learning. Those who live thousands of miles away might have a problem paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars and spending a few days in another city for a moment that lasts a few seconds. Of course, an expansive distance is a legitimate reason for missing graduation.

Attending Graduation

Reasons to Attend Graduation

While there are many people who use the reasons listed above not to go to their own graduation, there are also some very good reasons to attend graduation. Here are a few of the more common:

  1. It's a Once-in-a-Lifetime-Experience--Most people who are graduating from college will never again have the opportunity to gradate with the same degree from the same school. Therefore, it's a great time to enjoy one last time with friends and mentors
  2. It's a Time for Family to Celebrate--Those who have families who like to celebrate such achievements actually rob their families of some enjoyment if they choose not to attend graduation. Many parents, siblings, spouses, and children enjoy seeing their family member being honored at a graduation. Why spoil this opportunity?
  3. It's a Great Time to Dress in Unique Clothing--When else do you get to dress up in cool clothing that goes back hundreds of years? Graduation gowns and mortarboards or tams are great traditions. Turning the tassel is the culmination of years of hard work.
  4. You Earned It--Taking intensive classes for years is not easy. The time and monetary expense are both high in most instances. Graduation is a time for the celebration of a major achievement. Why not celebrate? You earned it, after all.

Of course, the decision on attending graduation is up to each individual. There are both pros and cons. If possible, attending graduation is probably a good idea, though.

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ctk3 on April 24, 2013:

I do not plan on going to my graduation ceremony. My family is halfway across the globe. I do not need to feel the once in a lifetime experience of gathering with people I do not know, in a crowded place, listening to people I do not know talk. Yes, I did earn to be on the Dean's list and graduate with a 3.9, but I do not need to attend a graduation ceremony to know that I earned it. I worked hard for it, and whether I attend a ceremony or not is not going to change that GPA. Plus I got a scholarship to attend university and I did not have to pay a single cent for my education. So really, what other good excuses are there for to trouble myself with grauation ceremony?

Chris Price (author) from USA on April 21, 2013:

I don't really see why many people skip it, either, although I skipped the main graduation for the hooding ceremony when I got a master's.

Ceres Schwarz on April 21, 2013:

I didn't know that some people would actually choose not to attend their graduation for the reasons you mentioned above. It's a different matter entirely if you couldn't attend your graduation because of a very valid reason. I think the reasons to attend graduation far outweigh the reasons not to. Graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I can't see why people wouldn't want to go.

Chris Price (author) from USA on April 20, 2013:

Thanks for the comment, Paul. I think your excuse actually falls into the legitimate category.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on April 19, 2013:


This is a very interesting hub. I didn't attend my college graduation in 1966 to receive a B.S. degree because I didn't fulfill all of the course requirements for the degree until I finished a summer course which concluded in August. The graduation was held in May. At the time I didn't miss the experience, because I had already been accepted into graduate school at another university. Thinking back, I do now miss not having had the chance to attend my college graduation. Voted up and sharing with followers.

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