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Commencement is Overrated

Commencement is Overrated
Illustration by Natalie Dye

Eileen Taing
Staff Writer

Many families travel from far and wide to attend commencement each year. The ceremony consists of a grand speech by Chancellor Henry Yang followed by graduates having their names called, receiving their diplomas, shaking the chancellor’s hand, and taking a brief photo with him. It also involves sitting for hours under the baking sun.

Ultimately, commencement is an unnecessary event, both expensive and boring. The university tries to make a big deal of the event by selling grad packages and offering professional photography services. It is unnecessary because every graduate only needs their transcripts. Furthermore, commencement is also uncomfortable and boring; it is a hassle for relatives and friends to come because of parking, seating, and time.

The university bookstore sells different grad packages, all of which can be unreasonably priced. For instance, the first grad package includes a cap, gown, tassel, stole, t-shirt, alumni license plate frame, alumni steel water bottle, a keepsake tassel, a blue tote bag, and a diploma frame with an aerial photo.

This package costs about $300 with tax. The least expensive grad package costs $130 with tax, still a hefty fee. The bookstore is also selling class rings, which are also pricey. The cheapest class ring is $145.

Buying grad packages is particularly wasteful because a cap, gown, and other accessories can be used for just one day. After commencement, most students will not wear the cap and gown again. It will be hung in a closet and collect dust.

Furthermore, commencement only takes about 15 seconds for each person’s name to be called and for each person to walk across stage. Besides this slight recognition, commencement is a celebration for the whole graduating class.

Hot weather can make the brief rush of euphoria that comes from shaking Chancellor Yang’s hand seem less thrilling. If there is no “June Gloom” during commencement, then it will be a typical summer like weather. By the time commencement starts, the sun is usually shining brightly. When commencement is almost over, the sun remains high in the sky, drenching most of the graduating class and the audience in sweat.

On the day of commencement, professional photographers are waiting on the sidelines. They are hoping that some families will want some professional photos as a keepsake of this moment.

The university also charges for the transcripts that are necessary to apply to jobs, meaning the diploma you receive at graduation is extra valueless because you have to pay to get your grades anyways. The cheapest transcript is an “eTranscript,” which costs $16, while the transcript with notarization $41.

Instead of commencement, one could have a huge party celebration at one’s parents’ house or a restaurant instead. This way, relatives and friends can celebrate together without the hassle of driving up and dealing with the parking and seating. This would also allow graduates to spend quality time with family and friends without having to rush and find them after the commencement ceremony. There also would not be any inconveniences for family or friends who are traveling from far away to make hotel reservations or rent a car.

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