When freshman year started, the class of 2020 didn’t anticipate a virtual commencement ceremony caused a global pandemic. But COVID-19 has created a new normal, and a change in plans is the reality for many students nationwide. With higher education administrators concerned about the transmission of coronavirus in large groups, many graduation ceremonies — including Penn State and Johns Hopkins — will take place via livestream.
Graduates, friends and families are invited to gather online as university leadership recognizes and confers degrees for undergraduate and graduate students. One silver lining is that family and friends who may not have otherwise been able to attend can now join the celebration via their phones, tablets or computers.
Although the agenda for the ceremony may vary by university, here is what to expect from a virtual graduation celebration:
- Virtual graduation announcement of candidates – Typically, graduate names are not read aloud at a virtual graduation celebration. However, a graduate video featuring student-submitted photos is shown at the end of the virtual ceremony.
- Virtual graduation website – As shown by San Jose State University, a special online graduation platform celebrates the graduates and includes messages from speakers, graduate profiles, graduating student award winners, and a degree presentation.
Whether it’s virtual or in-person, graduation is a monumental moment in the life of a student, and serves as a doorway from one phase of life to another.
To help students through this process, here are five helpful tips to make the most of the ceremony:
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
Being well rested before a big event can help calm nerves and provide the energy needed to make it through the day.
2. Dress up, even with the graduation cap and gown.
Just because the ceremony is virtual doesn’t mean you don’t want to look the part. Looking good helps you feel good. You’ll still want pictures of the big day., so make sure your cap and gown are ready to go, and pick out a nice outfit to wear underneath.
3. Stay in the moment.
The graduation speeches may feel never-ending, but be present and listen to the speakers. You may learn something that inspires you as you take the next step in your life’s journey.
4. Shift the tassel.
Whether you choose to decorate the top of your cap or not, wear it well and with pride. In unison with your fellow graduates, you’ll move that tassel to the left as a visual representation of your graduate status.
5. Take a second to applaud yourself.
You finally made it! Be proud of this accomplishment. Don’t let this moment and day pass by without thinking about all that has gone into completing your education.
With social distancing measures currently in place, a big, in-person graduation party with family and friends would not be advised, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a Zoom party. Invite all of your family and friends to join a Zoom video conference at a scheduled time. All the members of your party can also support a local restaurant by getting food and drinks to-go. Be sure to order decorations (Amazon has some great items), and if you feel up to it, you can even choose a theme.
While a virtual graduation won’t be the same as traditional ceremony, a graduation party can help remove the feeling of isolation by creating memories that won’t be forgotten for the graduate, friends and family. The class of 2020 worked hard to achieve their goals and make it to this day. Celebrate it!
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