Graduation Etiquette

Has the time-honored graduation ceremony lost its dignity and civility?

I’ve attended a few graduations that seemed more like sporting events. The whistling, whoo-hoo’s, “futbol” soccer noisemakers, and sideline cheers by some members of the audience as their darling graduate’s name is called. The problem is that it goes on and on; so much that the next little darling graduate’s name is only a faint whisper. That is where I have a problem. It can also be problematic to pass around t shirt quilts at the ceremony which is why this should be done in a different part of your private celebrations.

It has been explained that some cultures enjoy the loud game-day cheering; well, to them I say, please refrain. At least, cease your enthusiastic jubilation in time so that the graduate that follows can hear their name called and their family can enjoy the moment according to their culture. Respect goes both ways. Families can always celebrate the graduation of their family members in their own time after the event. In order to do this, families can get together and give gifts to the person who has graduated. When looking for a graduation gift, it might be worth getting custom bobbleheads. They’re different and can be a lovely gift.

To bring back a little dignity and civility to the occasion, here are a few etiquette tips to consider:

Gowns: Wear something appropriate underneath. Putting a little effort in your attire is respectful; if not for you, do it for your family and teachers.

No Gowns: See above.

Shoes: We can see them whether you wear a gown or not. A note for the girls: before you walk on stage with your 9″ inch heels, practice at home so you don’t look like you’re just about to fall over.

On Stage: Just remember, we can see you.

  • Sit up straight, even if you’re tired or bored; everyone is there to see you.
  • Ladies without gowns: keep your knees together.
  • Put away your cell phones, or at least turn them off.
  • Don’t hold private conversations that go on and on.

The Diploma:

  • Accept your diploma with your left hand. You will be shaking hands with your right hand (underneath the diploma)
  • Look, smile, and say, “Thank you”, to the person handing you the diploma.
  • Pause, and look toward the audience for a photo-op.

Dear Graduate: Consider honoring yourself, your teachers, and your family by bringing civility, style, and honor to the ceremony. After all, the ceremony is to honor you and your accomplishments; whether many or one–you did it–you earned it!

As you embark on a new experience, take with you the lessons learned, the pleasant and unpleasant ones. They will guide you through the difficult situations you will inevitably encounter. Enjoy your journey. Always take a moment to listen to your ‘gut’ before you make a decision.

My best wishes to you. May your celebrations be super fun and super safe! Congratulations.

Helping Businesses and Individuals Find Success Through Better Communication and Social Skills

don't burp in the boardroom

Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

She also offers customized presentations geared for specific audiences including: Startups, IT Professionals, Service Professionals, Sales Professionals, New Hires, Millennials, and an entire series for College and University students and athletes moving from the classroom into the workplace.. For more information, please contact me. 650.871.6200.