Why you should “walk” at your college graduation

Finishing college is something many of us just want to see over and done with by the time we get to our final year. I know that working full time all the way through both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees left me wanting to do just about anything but go back to the university and deal with the crowds and pomp associated with the graduation commencement ceremony. I can clearly recall the precise moments I decided to avoid attending both of my previous university graduation commencement ceremonies in favor of going to work. Usually you get an email asking you if you’re going to attend the ceremony and requesting you let them know. I can remember deleting that email on both occasions and moving forward with life just being glad to have another educational milestone behind me.

While this approach and mindset is certainly okay, I have come to think differently about it over the years that I have worked to attain a Ph.D. Sure, the crowds, the formality, the expense and the time all play a factor in your decision to “walk” at your college graduation (or not), but please indulge me a moment and let me try to convince you to walk if you are able.

Commemorate the milestones in your life

Human beings like to make lists and check things off as we progress. Walking at your college graduation is a tremendous example of one last item being checked off your master list of life before moving on to the next chapter. There is a great sense of closure and new beginning that comes with the formality of graduation. Not only does attending your college graduation take time to celebrate your academic achievement, it also allows your mind to see, hear and feel the closure of that chapter in your life. This is extremely useful as you work to move past what is now done and embark wholeheartedly on what lies ahead. Walking at your college or university graduation puts the final check on that college to-do list and you owe it to yourself to check that box.

You’ve earned the recognition and it’s fun receiving it

The past few years have been tough and you’ve had to make choices that prioritize your education over many other things. You’ve earned the degree whether you walk at graduation or not, but it sure is fun having people recognize your achievement. Attending your college graduation ceremony gives the good people around you the opportunity to congratulate you and to be proud of you and for you. If you’re like me, you didn’t get through college all by yourself. There were parents that supported you, family that encouraged you, professors that challenged you and classmates, co-workers, friends and bosses that helped you along the way. Your college graduation is as much a recognition of their efforts and sacrifices as it is yours. Give them that honor and allow them that dignity by recognizing their contributions to your success and do it all simply by attending your college graduation commencement ceremony.

Social media makes you look awesome these days

You can look really cool and have total strangers liking, commenting and appreciating your social media posts from your college graduation. Instagram filters make your bad makeup look fine and will take those “I’m still hung over” bags under your eyes away with the touch of the screen. In no time you can be the rock star academic genius that you want everyone to think you are. If you have ever posted a picture of what you are eating, then you can’t tell me that this factor is silly. Who knows! If you say something on social media that is motivating, touching or inspirational, you may even have people from all over the place sharing your college graduation status updates on Facebook. In the end, social media is making life a lot of fun in many ways and your college graduation ceremony is one of those unique and rare times when that can be absolutely true for you.

It’s the perfect time to reflect on your academic process

The graduation commencement gives you time to reflect, think, listen and ponder the many reasons you’re sitting there in that gown with that silly hat on your head surrounded by other proud graduates. The hour or so that your college graduation lasts will provide you with the perfect environment to really consider why you put yourself through the past few years of academic rigor and what you plan on doing with it to justify your sacrifice. I can’t think of a better time to hatch some plans and consider some of your wildest dreams than sitting there listening to your commencement speaker at your college graduation.

Because it’s a memory worth having

You won’t graduate college very many times in your life. Savor the opportunity. I plan on walking at my graduation ceremony next week because I’ve had many years to consider the things I’ve listed here and I know that it’s the right thing to do. Graduating from a college or university is a big deal and it’s something you will remember for the rest of your life. Why not top it off with a nice, formal event that will add to the vivid memories you already have of your college experience? Good memories are some of the best aspects of life and here’s your opportunity to add to the pile of good memories you’ve made.

These are the main reasons I encourage new college graduates to walk at their graduation commencement ceremony and these are the reasons I am going to walk at my graduation ceremony for the first time. I hope you’ll consider doing the same and I hope you’ll encourage the upcoming college graduates in your life to walk at their graduation as well.

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