Unusual Graduation Traditions

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wellesley grads prepare their hoopsUnique Ways Colleges Say Goodbye to Students

As the semester comes to a close, college seniors everywhere are saying goodbye to the schools that have been their home for the past four years. While graduates typically commemorate the event with caps, gowns, commencement speeches, and a march set to “Pomp and Circumstance,” some colleges have been known to incorporate some less conventional traditions.

Below are some unusual ways some colleges usher students into the real world. 

Dressing to Impress 

University of New Hampshire Durham, NH

UNH is one of a handful of schools ensuring graduation celebrations stay as environmentally savvy as they are fashionable. Grads wear gowns made out of recycled plastic bottles, and are encouraged to donate them back to the school for reuse after the ceremony.

The Future is in Bloom

Connecticut College New London, CT 

Junior class female students walk alongside their senior compatriots carrying chains of laurel on the march to the ceremony, while the grads themselves carry an Eastern White Pine sapling, in honor of the college seal.

Time to Move On

Williams College Williamstown, MA

Williams seniors drop a watch from the top of the college chapel spire. A broken face, in this instance, means good luck.

For Whom the Bell Tolls 

College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA

Perhaps to the dismay of many underclassmen, seniors at William and Mary celebrate the end of classes with each graduating student ringing the Wren Building Bell. 

One Ring to Unite Them All 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA

MIT students wear their class ring (known as the “Brass Rat”) backwards right up until the moment of graduation, where they turn it around, displaying the graduation date. Meredith College has a similar tradition.

Making a Splash

New York University New York, NY

Until 2011, NYU held commencement in Washington Square Park. Upon hearing their degree called, grads jumped into the water fountain. Due to renovations in the park, the event moved to Yankee Stadium.  

To the Races

Wellesley College Wellesley, MA

Seniors at Wellesley partake in a hoop-rolling race while wearing their caps and gowns. What does the lucky winner get? Thrown into Lake Waban! Additionally, she is considered her class’ first success story (in earlier incarnations, she would be the first to get married). 

Whose Degree is it Anyway? 

Smith College Northampton, MA

Smith ditched the traditional diploma distribution for a more collective effort. Grads gather in a circle and pass around diplomas, dropping out as they stumble across their own.

These are just some of the colleges that make their graduations unique. Notice any traditions we missed? Tell us in the comments!

Related Topics

Choosing a College, College Prep, Graduation

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