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LCC International University > News and Events archive > What is Graduation?

What is Graduation?

2023-08-14

What’s not to love about graduation?

You either love graduation ceremonies or you hate them. Why do universities spend so much time planning, preparing, scripting, and practicing for graduation?  What are we celebrating? And what’s with the funny hoods?

Here are some of the many reasons I love graduation.


Graduation is a public recognition of several years of academic study in pursuit of knowledge in a particular field. Professors have deemed that these graduates have acquired a firm understanding of complicated theories and research applications in their field. Graduation is a concrete way to affirm abstract knowledge.

Graduation symbolizes a move from student to professional. Graduates are ready to be fully employed as managers, teachers, doctors, engineers, veterinarians, or lawyers, and it is time that they put their theoretical knowledge into practice in the world. Graduation launches graduates into a life of service for others.

Graduation is a day to recognize the academic relationship between students and instructors has ended. However, friendships between professors and graduates can last a lifetime. No longer bound by the need to give and receive grades, instructors and alumni are free to cooperate to pursue plans and dreams beyond the confines of the classroom, often leading to partnerships and publications.

Alongside the faculty, parents cheer for their kid that just “last year” they dropped off at kindergarten. The deep love from diapers to diplomas is all on display in a parent’s tears at graduation. I love to meet p parents of my students. We both acknowledge that we have mentored this young person, albeit with very different roles. In the end, we love the same child- turned-adult.

Graduation is a time to remember. I remember the first day of class, the frightened students who stared at the floor and the nervous, talkative students. I remember failed exams, and low essay scores. I remember top marks, intelligent contributions to discussions, good questions, and the times that we spontaneously all broke out in laughter during class. I remember when I, the instructor, felt like a failure, but students showed up for the next lesson, ready to give me another chance. The memories of grace and glory reappear at graduation.

Graduation is a time to look academic in those funny “Harry Potter” gowns and hoods. We no longer need the heavy, dark gowns and lined, woolen hoods to stay warm in dank castles like the medieval monks did in the 12th century. Computer screens and backpacks might better symbolize today’s graduates. But I like tradition and symbols of academia. The uniform also equalizes all graduates, giving equal recognition to all people who completed the degree.

Commencement means “to start, to begin.” Graduation is the start of a new stage of life. So, forgive me if I shed a silent tear when I hear Pomp and Circumstance, marking a meaningful stage of academic life.

Author: Robin Gingerich, Ph.D., MA TESOL Program Director at LCC International University.

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