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Graduation Ceremony

Graduation ceremony are conducted as a rite of passage for student's who have completed one phase of academic achievement, to prepare them for what they may expect in the future. It is one of the milestones in a person's life just as important as an engagement or a wedding. The actual ceremony has a touch of solemnity and nostalgia about it and is distinctly different in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Graduation Ceremony In The United States
In the United States, the Graduation ceremony involves the students marching onto the stage, the reading of speeches, distribution of diplomas and the official moment when the students are declared Graduates. The march is usually set to the music of Edward Elgar's ‘Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1'.

The audiences rise on their feet as the students begin the procession and remain standing throughout the invocation as a mark of respect. An important aspect of the Graduation day ceremony is the Valedictorian's speech which always receives a standing ovation. Usually an alumnus and some famous guest, who may not even be related to the institution, also make speeches.

The students are called upon the stage one by one to receive their diplomas. Usually it's not the actual diploma but merely a certificate confirming their participation in the ceremony. At most colleges and universities in the US, the faculty technically will recommend that each candidate be given a degree, which is then formally conferred by the President or other institutional official. There's also the tradition of tossing the mortarboards into the air upon being declared graduates.

Graduation Ceremony in United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, unlike the United States, students do not usually 'graduate' from school below university level. They will normally leave secondary school and sixth form college (if applicable) with specific qualifications, often GCSEs and A-levels respectively. However, these are not diplomas and are not necessarily presented in a formal ceremony. Students wear an Academic dress during the ceremony and members of the armed forces are permitted to wear their military uniform underneath.

Some of the older universities hold their graduation ceremonies in Latin, whilst member institutions of the University of Wales hold their graduation ceremonies almost entirely in the Welsh language, even though few students understand either of these languages. The Latin section of the ceremony includes a rendition of an anthem, sometimes called the unofficial anthem of all universities, the De Brevitate Vitae, also known as The Gaudeamus.

Universities like Oxford and Cambridge bring about minor changes in the ceremony. The graduation ceremony at these universities is very formal.


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