Many adults go back to school to complete their GED, high school diploma, Associate degree, Bachelor degree, and graduate work. These are magnificent accomplishments, usually achieved while working and/or raising a family while being a student. Graduation day is an acknowledgement of these efforts and it is a time to celebrate. For the non-traditional student, there are some basic “Do” and “Don’t” suggestions for graduation day.
The most important “Do” on graduation day is: attend the graduation ceremony.
Many students skip out on their graduation ceremonies and forego celebrations, because they feel somewhat embarrassed to be graduating late. This is a silly insecurity. No matter how many years it has taken for a person to get on the right track, it is certainly a cause for celebration that they indeed got on that path at all. Family and friends should be included at this time of great pride, and the new graduate should absolutely revel in this special day. In life, the culmination of one’s efforts that lead to the completion of a degree is truly one of its greatest joys. There is no need to balk at a late-coming graduation ceremony.
Another essential “Do” for a graduate is: pay outstanding tuition and fees before the ceremony.
There is nothing more disheartening on graduation day than to be asked by excited family and friends to show off a graduation diploma only to reply that it is being withheld by the academic institution due to debt. Most schools and colleges will refuse to release a diploma and/or official transcript of grades without a bill paid in full. This is basic business logic. There is no reason for a school to make an exception unless under extenuating circumstances. A graduate should take pride in having invested in him or herself.
Although attending graduation and paying one’s tuition seems elementary, they complement nicely a couple of “don’ts.” Many times a person does attend the graduation ceremony and has fulfilled the financial obligations to the school, but yet, the day is not as special as it could have been. To avoid a disheartening or disappointing graduation day, these are some things not to do.
An important “Don’t” is: do not hold grudges against parents, siblings, and other essential family and friends on this day.
In the long-term priorities of life, family and friends are the support system of every person. There are times when these support systems are challenged by arguments or temporary setbacks. However, a special day like graduation should be an opportunity to unite those who have been distant. It is a time to appreciate what really matters, and it is not a time to spite another person by omitting them from a guest list or by refusing their praise and generosity. Just as the graduate should attend his or her own ceremony, he or she should welcome those who want to stand present with pride at the occasion.
Finally, the most important “don’t” of any graduate is: do not forget to plan for the financial obligations of post-graduate life.
This takes on many forms of responsibility. There are student loans to pay, personal loans to oblige, and there are family and friends to return favors to in time. A graduate needs to have a plan with a timeline by graduation day. Graduation day should in fact be a deadline for maturity, determination, and deliberation. A high school graduate by definition should be seeking to attend college. A college graduate should approach graduation day with a job lined up after an effort-filled job search, and he or she should be on the way to making strides towards an independent and productive life, including the ability to live without financial assistance from others, or at least, not too much of it.
Every graduate has an expected level of achievement by graduation day. It is not so great to reach the finish line of one type of schooling only to halt and never progress further. Academic accomplishments are the stepping stone towards greater success. Graduates who value their education will attend their ceremonies with pride, confident that they carried out a responsible academic career, welcoming those who admire the milestone, and moving ahead in life to meet and conquer new challenges.