Saturday, May 26, 2007

"Graduation Ceremonies"

Graduation ceremonies are boring and a waste of time.

I didn't go to my Penn State graduation, because I didn't feel like going through the hassle. Buying a cap and gown, getting my family to come into town, dressing up only to have my clothes covered up anyway, and so on. No thanks. If your family isn't there to see it, is there really any reason to walk in a graduation? I've never heard of anyone doing it just for the sake of doing it. They do it because their family wants to see them "graduate". Which is silly, because by the time the ceremony rolls around, everybody has already graduated. Except in FSU's case, where graduation ceremonies are actually held before anyone has officially graduated. So, you could walk at an FSU graduation ceremony, and then find out the next week that you failed that final exam you took 8 hours before the ceremony. How much would that suck? Even if you do graduate, you still don't get your diploma in the mail until two months after the ceremony. At least, that's how it was with me. So, the ceremony is strictly symbolic. It's just an excuse for the family to come into town, I guess.

Not only did I not want to go through the hassle of attending my Penn State graduation, I didn't want to sit through the ceremony either. Graduation ceremonies are among the most boring things out there. You have your "motivational speaker", whose talks are never really that good. (Fortunately, the talk at Penn State's graduation last weekend only lasted 9 minutes.) Then, everybody walks across the stage. I think FSU only had two graduation ceremonies total, so you can imagine how long it took. And, you sit through the whole thing just for a few seconds of glory, so you can walk across the stage, shake a couple of people's hands whom you've never met, and not hear any applause or cheering from your family because they're supposed to hold their applause until everybody's name is called. What a waste of time. At least Penn State split it up into more ceremonies, so that each individual ceremony would be shorter. The "grad school" ceremony I attended last weekend was approximately two hours. High school graduations aren't so bad, because you only have a couple of hundred people walking across. But unfortunately, that's offset by the procession. At my high school graduation, every single graduate was part of the opening and closing processions, two at a time. That was the worst part, especially because I was in one of the first two rows (a small perk of being in the National Honor Society), so I had to constantly look behind me to see how much longer I had to keep standing. At high school graduations, you can also tell who's going to college and who isn't. The people who are really excited? They're not going to college. They barely graduated. The people who are ho-hum and want to get it over with? They realize they're going to have to sit through at least one more of these in the next few years.

Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of graduation ceremonies is hearing the speaker misprounounce or otherwise butcher somebody's name. That sucks for the offended person, because this is supposed to be a big moment, right? Hearing your name as you walk across the stage at graduation. And then, they mispronounce it. But from an outsider's point of view, it can be quite entertaining, especially at a grad school graduation. That has to be a tough job, pronouncing all of those names, over and over again for over an hour. And you have to be enthusiastic about it, too - it's important to announce everybody's name with the same level of enthusiasm and diction, so that nobody complains that their name was mumbled because they were near the end of the ceremony. Personally, I think that some day, the name announcement will be computerized. People will be able to go online before the ceremony and set up their phonetic spelling, and hear how the computerized voice will pronounce their name, so everyone will know exactly how their name will sound at the ceremony. That way, nobody's name will be misprounounced, and nobody will have to sit there and read all of the names. Hearing a computerized voice announce your name doesn't carry the same prestige as hearing an actual person do it, but I think that's what we're coming to. And when that happens, graduation ceremonies will have no entertainment value whatsoever.

Maybe I'll feel differently about graduation ceremonies when I have kids and they graduate. But that's a few years down the road. Until then, don't take it personally if I don't show up for your graduation.

1 comment:

Ben Schumin said...

I'm glad someone else agrees with me that graduation ceremonies are a pointless waste of time. How much of a fight did your family put up about your not going to your own graduation?

I similarly thought that graduation ceremonies were a waste of time as my college graduation approached, and my parents put up quite a fight to get me to go. The end result was that I didn't go. My only regret was that I had to be so blunt about the whole matter to finally get the point across. I ended up telling them that it was my graduation and it was my choice about whether or not I chose to go, and if the ceremony really meant that much to them, they could still go if they wanted to, but I wasn't going to be there. After all, if one can't control what a celebration means, the celebration is meaningless.

I kind of hate birthdays for the same reason. If I can't control how my birthday is celebrated, then I don't want to be thrust into the spotlight in a way that I don't want to be, and people expect me to be *happy* about it? Forget that.