6 Colleges with Unique Graduation Traditions

Sunday, May 1, 2022

6 Colleges with Unique Graduation TraditionsCelebrate with These Festive Commencement Ceremonies

Much like the students who apply each year, no colleges or universities are the same. In addition to varying locations, course requirements and campus environments, many colleges have their own unique graduation traditions.

Graduating from college is an important milestone and an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated. Keep reading to learn about some of the one-of-a-kind ways in which schools choose to celebrate their graduating seniors and mark this important occasion.

Hooprolling at Wellesley College
Every May, seniors at this all women’s college celebrate the season and their upcoming graduation by taking to the streets and scrambling down Tupelo Lane with hula-hoops in hand. Hooprolling began as a tradition for May Day, a holiday dedicated to frivolity and child-like play to escape from real world worries. Nowadays, it’s a great way for seniors to unwind after finals and have some fun before receiving their diplomas.

Architectural Mortarboards at Notre Dame
Plenty of students enjoy decorating and personalizing their graduation gaps prior to walking across the stage to receive their diploma, but Notre Dame’s School of Architecture takes this to the next level. Graduating seniors from this major traditionally build complex structures on their caps, including replicas of the Taj Mahal, the Gateway Arch, and the Statue of Liberty. The graduates use this ceremony as an opportunity to show off the skills they have mastered during their undergraduate studies. 

Fountain Hopping at Butler University
The five fountains adorning Butler University’s campus are more than landmarks – they are part of a tradition that has been passed down through many generations of alumni. It is said that one thing students must do before graduating is take a dip in each of the five fountains in one single mad dash. Like many long-standing traditions passed down among students, the university does not endorse this fountain dip, but that doesn’t seem to stop students from frolicking in the water each year.

Strawberry Festival at NYU
Every May, NYU celebrates its graduating class with an all-out bash in Greenwich Village. This street fair-style carnival includes games, giveaways, interactive booths, live music and New York City’s longest strawberry shortcake. Students have the opportunity to catch up, indulge in a seasonal dessert, and spend time with faculty and staff before their upcoming graduation.

Class Day at Yale University
Instead of having a commencement speaker on graduation day, Yale invites a guest speaker to campus on the Sunday prior to commencement. Based on student input, a notable speaker is invited to campus. Prior speakers have included Cory Booker, Barbara Walters, Anderson Cooper, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Tom Hanks. In addition to a memorable speech, Class Day includes the awarding of academic, artistic, and athletic prizes as well as a celebration of the entire student body as a whole. Many students choose to mark the occasion by wearing whimsical hats including blocks of cheese, wizard caps, traffic cones, and other eccentric headgear options. 

Step Sing at Princeton University
At Princeton University, graduation is not a daylong event but an entire week of traditions and celebrations. The week begins with a reunion for alumni during which the seniors join for a parade, which commences with the class marching onto Poe Field and being welcomed as new alumni. After this comes one of the most festive parts of the week, known as Step Sing. During this event, students gather in the University Chapel to sing a selection of songs handpicked by the graduating class.

No matter which college you choose to enroll in, students can rest assured that they will have the opportunity to participate in a unique graduation ceremony. If you are in the process of creating your best-fit list of schools to apply to, our team of expert admissions counselors can help you brainstorm a balanced selection.



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