Commencement is Overrated


Andrew Prokop, Editing Manager

As the year quickly winds down to an end and the workload ramps up for most students on campus, one large group of students begin getting ready for the rest of their lives. For seniors, a quarter of our student population who have spent the last few years working hard to finally reach the end, the day comes where they receive that fancy piece of paper that says that you are officially a college-educated individual. Also known as commencement.  

Commencement is a tradition that has been around since 1642 in America when Harvard had their first commencement. Back then, the point of this wonderful day was to send a message to England that the American colonies were educated and not to be trifled with. Throughout history, this tradition has been kept alive and slowly transitioned from a message to a celebration. We celebrate all the hard work and memories put into our college degrees with friends and family to share in our accomplishments. For many, this day means a lot, being able to walk across that stage or turn your tassel, or whatever other tradition that school may partake in. However, in a year that has been filled with concern and debate over whether we should even have commencement at all, here I am to play a little devil’s advocate that anyone who has ever had to sit through a commencement ceremony can understand. 

A crowded, generally hot room, filled with various families with scattered crying children/screaming parents. A ceremony spans multiple hours just for the 10 second moment where either yourself or the person you are there to support walks across a stage. What about the other hours, you ask? Well, they are filled with a plethora of mispronounced names, mediocre speakers who reminisce on specific memories that most people do not share or understand. Occasionally, a good speaker may stick out and leave you with advice or saying that you will keep with you for the rest of your life. In all reality, nowadays that is not difficult to find. This is wasting multiple hours to get one tidbit of advice that you could have received from typing “inspirational quotes” to google. That is then followed with another seemingly infinite amount of time to get hundreds of pictures, most of which will never be used except for a single post on Instagram. Do not believe me? I would bet a large number of you experienced at least one of the unpleasant things detailed above when you graduated high school. 

While the day itself is overrated, the thing that is often overlooked in the build-up to commencement. Weeks and months of planning, rehearsals where college-educated individuals realize that a college education does not give you common sense. Over and over again, people fail to sit in the right seat or walk to the right location. There is also a cost that is overlooked. All these students who have contributed a large amount of money to get their education also have to pay an extra $200 to get the actual piece of paper. Then, there are the miscellaneous costs like the cap and gown, even the extra tassel as one last money grab. 

While I may not be in the majority, I would not be unbelievably upset if commencement were to get canceled. I would take an extra day with my family and friends, or a nice celebratory dinner, over the hassle of a multi-hour ceremony. Ceremonies do little more than waste time and allow me to pick up an empty book without the actual thing I worked so hard to achieve.