The education process for most people begins at a very young age. Unless you’re very clever and your parents are devoted to forming your social intelligence earlier, you probably start Elementary or Grammar school when you are six years old. Those early days are usually taken in stride until at some point you realize this is going to be a commitment for years. At the end of the long road through that process, you can finally walk out of the classroom and into the working world.

At graduation, the years of dedication and commitment, reading and testing, listening to lectures, taking reams of notes, and understanding critical thinking and guidance can now be left behind you as you finally put to use everything you’ve learned. Graduating is an achievement and should be celebrated. And there’s a long tradition to this!

For hundreds of years graduates have been honored for their “rite of passage” through their years of education with a traditional ceremony that those who have graduated before you have enjoyed. As each graduate walks across the stage to receive his or her diploma, they are following the footsteps of thousands who have gone before them.

The commencement ritual includes specialized robes, caps, tassels, and school associated colors. A bagpiper leads the procession of graduates as they trace the path from the campus grounds to the gym or auditorium where the ceremony will take place.

Check out the commencement 2012 booklet in our Commencement archive. The back page offers information about the meaning and history of the various academic regalia. Each booklet holds history, however, and it’s interesting to trace these booklets from how they look now backwards to the first booklet in our collection of the graduating class of 1887 (already the eleventh).

1887 Commencement Booklet

To “commence” is to begin. Although this is the end of a long journey, it is the beginning of entry into the social world. You have made it! You have arrived!

Please visit our Commencement archive for more information on this rich history.