To some walking across the stage donning cap and gown at graduation is considered an obligation. A graduate may be the first in the family to earn such honor, while others may be transferring to a four-year college to finish a career. Some may even participate just to make a professor proud. These are some of the legitimate reasons students may give themselves to feel motivated enough to walk. But there are legit reasons not to participate.
The cost of the graduating gear can be a huge impediment for some. The cap and gown are $40.50. In our current economy that can be enough to cause a student not to walk.
For some students walking is not even an option, especially if it means working extra hours to pay for the cap and gown. For others, the achievement does not need to be displayed, but it is more of a matter of self pride and accomplishment. Why parade around looking like a dressed up eggplant?
Some students are graduating after two years of taking classes and being accepted to four-year universities, but let’s be honest, how many fit this “standard” profile? Thousands are returning for a second chance or taking far longer than they would like to admit. Embarrassment can be another reason not to take those steps and don on that eggplant-colored toga and a quadrilateral hat. There is nothing wrong with pride of accomplishment, but not every student feels the same, and that wish should be respected.
Whether to walk along with the graduating class or not can be a hard decision. Students do not want to disappoint peers, professors or parents by not involving themselves in yet another peer-pressured tradition that “everyone does” around the world as a celebration of these accomplishments. Attending college is a personal adult decision. It should not involve anyone else. Walking at graduation should be the same. Peer pressure should not be a factor.
We spend up to $500 a semester on books, now more on a cap and gown too. Why does SWC not offer a rental of the traditionalized toga? Or perhaps even create a borrowing system so students do not have to go through the financial hardship. It is only for a couple of hours that it will be used, and perhaps in most cases only to ease the minds of those others than the student. Borrow it, wear it, take some pictures, make some memories and move on with life. Ultimately the decision is personal, and a college graduate should be able to make this decision on his or her own, not to please others.