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ubersiren's avatar

Why are graduation ceremonies so long when NOBODY enjoys them?

Asked by ubersiren (15140points) May 17th, 2009

I went to my husband’s graduation ceremony yesterday and it was so freaking long. It was 3 hours long- there must have been 10 speakers before the name calling and stage walk. Do they not realize how hard it is to keep a 2 year old entertained in a hot stuffy sports arena crammed with people? Crimeny! I mean does anybody actually want to sit through that BS? Why do we feel it’s necessary to torture ourselves? Couldn’t they be made just a little shorter, or at least throw some real entertainment in? What…is… the…point!!! Someone please tell me why the length. I understand the ritual, but why the length?

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23 Answers

pinkfloyd's avatar

Well, the number of students, the reputation of the school, the selfishness level of the school, marketing for neighbours of families, etc.

Apsaras's avatar

It’s just fluff, really, to make it seem like the last four/eight/whatever years were important and justified.

“You spent your time/money at our school, look how pretty and important everything is!”

chyna's avatar

Possibly they think since you spent an enormous fortune to get to graduation, they should spread it out to make you think all that money was worth it. Or, the speakers are full of themselves and think they are important enough to drone on and on.

gailcalled's avatar

When my daughter graduated from that school in Providence, there were five honorary degrees given out, including one to Stevie Wonder, (with no speeches attached) and the BA degree was given to the class, en masse, who stood up.

Then a keyboard was brought out and Stevie Wonder played and sang, “I just Called to Say ‘I Love You.’ ” We were outside on the green so everyone stood up and danced.

Then we went to the English Dept.‘s venue, where the diplomas were distributed individually. Most of the graduates were in bare feet by then. And off to the English Dept’s wonderful picnic. A perfect afternoon.

MrItty's avatar

Uh. No one forced you to go. And CERTAINLY no one forced you to bring a 2 year old child. The graduation ceremony is for the students and the parents or family/friends who supported the students. It is not for the convenience of people who don’t know not to bring a 2 year old child to such a place.

“When nobody enjoys them” is just plain stupidity. What you meant is “When I don’t enjoy them”. Again, then don’t go. Very easy.

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ubersiren's avatar

@gailcalled : That sounds way cool! I wish our day was more like that.

YARNLADY's avatar

When I attended my Hubby’s graduation with our small child, I made sure to bring enough to keep him busy, and placed myself in a position where he could be free to run around on his leash. I always make it a habit to carry my own chair, and sit near an exit, because of my own health problems.

I thing the graduation ceremony is designed to include as many of those who need honored as possible. I try to never expect any large gathering to meet my own needs, and try to come prepared.

ubersiren's avatar

Yeah, I tried. I brought snack and toys… he was just frustrated with the whole thing. He eventually just gave up and fell asleep on me, which was fine. My son wasn’t the biggest problem- in fact we got several compliments from those around us on his behavior. The problem was just the general length of the thing for all involved. There were far more adults doing a lot more fussing than there were kids. I didn’t mean to make this all about “How dare they not provide entertainment for me and my toddler!” I wasn’t expecting any such thing.

So, parents shouldn’t bring young children. Should we leave great grandma at home, too? Is it just “convenience” bringing the elderly? Subjecting their arthritic knees to a locked position for such a long time, just because we couldn’t find someone to watch them?

YARNLADY's avatar

@ubersiren I have actually seen similar ceremonies where there were specified limits to the guests. There should be some kind of warning about the length of the ceremony on the announcements.

We really enjoyed our grandson’s ceremony last year, and “the baby” (age 1) was very good the whole time.

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MrItty's avatar

“were”? I’m exactly this way (whatever that means) on Askville, Mahalo, Usenet, and everywhere else I post. Like I said in the personal thread you started with me, if you want people to only reply agreeing with you, post privately to your friends, not publicly on the internet. If you can’t deal with people telling you your opinion isn’t shared by the everyone else in the world, perhaps the Internet is not the right place for you.

btko's avatar

The point is to honour and celebrate people’s accomplishments.

Jeruba's avatar

We’ve just come from a graduation, too. I don’t think a commencement committee anywhere is unmindful of the length issue or thoughtless toward guests. I do think there is a reason for everything that is included as part of the event, and I do think they try to focus mostly on the graduates, quite rightly. I normally see a reasonable amount of latitude for people of varying needs; nevertheless, people who expect to have difficulty sitting through a long event (or helping others do it) are responsible for figuring out how to do that. It isn’t as if this came up all of a sudden.

In addition to all the usual speeches, awards, and ceremonial elements, some of which were pro forma but none of which was BS, the commencement that we attended yesterday included about a 7-minute tribute to a retiring member of the administrative staff. I had never heard of her and had no interest in the tribute, but that didn’t matter—it wasn’t about me. The graduates responded with a long standing ovation, cheers, and shouts of “We love you.” It meant a lot to them to have that opportunity to honor her, and I don’t begrudge a moment of the time it took. Long ceremony? Yes, but not frivolously or wastefully so. Surely we can find a way to adjust and endure the small inconveniences it costs us to mark those great milestones with all due ritual and pomp.

ubersiren's avatar

@btko : So the longer the ceremony, the more the grads should feel celebrate? It’s not that I oppose the ceremony, it’s the length. I don’t know that anyone would feel jipped if the whole shebang took an hour, hour and half tops.

ubersiren's avatar

@MrItty : I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but I do take offense to people telling me that I don’t know how to behave in public or handle my child. Especially if that person has no children himself. The question I posted before this one included many points of view I didn’t agree with and I never felt I had to defend myself. This is different because you are clearly not answering to the tone of my question and it seems that you are just looking for an excuse to pick on the stereotypical dumb mom who you think is responsible for every crying baby on a bus or in a restaurant. That’s what I’m getting from you and have gotten from you on other questions. And I wasn’t speaking just for me in this question… I was asking for anyone who has had to sit through it- including the grads themselves! I’m still waiting for you to give me 5 people who would actually like sitting through a commencement for 3 hours, since you say I’m have the “everyone must think like me” attitude or whatever you said. I thought this was a pretty common opinion, my friend. It’s not like I’m talking about abortion, here.

@Jeruba: You’re spot on here. You’d think the long speeches and hours of sitting and waiting and occasional applause would have gone out of style by now. It’s not a popular thing with people, so why not spiff it up and abbreviate it a bit. It seems that the guests, nor the grads are taken into consideration. My grad was way ready for that celebratory beer by the end, let me tell you! Do the committee members honestly think a lengthy ceremony is best, or do they just not care? I mean really, what do they think?

MrItty's avatar

@ubersiren I’ll give you six – myself, my parents, and my three siblings. We all enjoyed my graduation ceremony, and my brother’s graduation ceremony 6 years later.

Despite the inventions of my personal opinions that you have created, I do not have anything against moms in general, or even stay-at-home moms in particular. You made a post bitching “Don’t they know how hard it is to keep a two-year old still for three hours!!!” as though the entire world is supposed to cater to you and your particular family situation. That is the tone of your question that I take offense at. I could not care less whether or not you are a stay-at-home mom, as that was no where in the question, and I have no idea what makes you think my post had anything to do with that.

ubersiren's avatar

@MrItty : Seems you’re the one making things up. “Don’t they know how hard it is to keep a two-year old still for three hours!!!” <———- First off, thanks for changing the wording and adding 3 exclamation points to make me seem like I’m crazy. This statement could have as easily been replaced with “Don’t they know how hard it is for my grandmother to sit in these hard seats for hours,” or anything of the like. The point is, as Jeruba mentioned that the committee seems to plan these things without any consideration for guests, or the graduates even. If our grandma didn’t just have surgery, she would’ve come, too and I would feel just as bad if she had to sit through it. If that’s the one thing you picked out of the details to dwell on, then you’re really being narrow and nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking. You are the one who made it all about me bringing my son **gasp!** out in PUBLIC!!! What’s you’re real problem with my question? Is it really that I took my son to a public event? Because that’s what it sounds like.

I brought up the other thread, not because it’s relevant to this one, but because it’s where I recognized you from, and it’s a testimony to your character.

Good for you and your family enjoying your and your brother’s graduations. I’m sure it was the ceremony itself and nothing to do with a family member’s accomplishments. But as promised, I’ll leave that alone now, since you gave me people who enjoyed a ceremony… even if I think you’re not quite getting the point.

Thanks for jumping down my throat for absolutely no reason and congrats on being the most despicable person I’ve ever encountered on the vast world of the internet. That’s quite a title. I hope you never have a child to have to take somewhere and never have a wife to be non-supportive of.

MrItty's avatar

Do you have reading comprehension problems? I answered what my problem is with this rant in my very first response, and every response thereafter. You are moaning and complaining about the length of a ceremony meant to celebrate your husband’s accomplishments, which will occur exactly ONCE in his life, that you were under no obligation to go to, that you knew in advance would be long and tedious. You are ranting and raving for the sake of ranting and raving. That is my problem with your post.

The ceremony was not for you. It was not for your daughter. It was not for your grandmother. It was for the people that wanted to be there, to help celebrate the accomplishment of the graduate. Since you very clearly didn’t fall into the category of people who wanted to be there, you SHOULDN’T HAVE GONE. How difficult is that to understand?!

As an aside to your continued personal attacks and insults, please understand, with all sincerity, that I could not possibly care less of your opinion of me. If your aim is to hurt me in some way, I encourage you to not bother, as it is a waste of keyboard-clicking time.

You know why I don’t have any children? Because I know I’m not willing to make the sacrifices that parenthood involves. When you decided to have a child, your life stopped being yours. Being a parent is the equivalent of making continued, never-ending sacrifices. You had to know that in advance, but you chose to have a child anyway, and then decided that the world is wrong for forcing you to make sacrifices. YOU decided to have the child, YOU must deal with making sacrifices. I choose not to do that. I’m sure you think that only adds to the list of reasons I’m “despicable”, but again, I really don’t care what you think of me.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m afraid I was unclear in my response. I’ll restate.

My post was meant to say that I think the planners DO consider the graduates and the guests, bearing length in mind, and also that it is right for them to put the graduates first because it is their ceremony and their graduation. Everything they include is on the program for a reason. If guests need something more than the planners can reasonably accommodate (such as a way to amuse small children), it is up to those guests themselves to provide it. The occasion is NOT about entertainment but about recognition of achievement and a symbolic beginning (“commencement”) for the graduates. I would have been seriously irritated if the program had included fluff for the sake of entertainment instead of sticking to business.

Business does take some time, especially reading all those names. (It would certainly be quicker to leave out half of them. Should they?)

If the ceremony is long, I think we can find a way to put up with it. It’s a rare and special occasion loaded with meaning.

P.S. I did not hear one single complaint from anyone.

jlm11f's avatar

[mod says:] Let’s keep personal attacks out of this thread. Also saying things like someone is “bitching” about something, or someone doesn’t deserve a wife or kids – both are uncalled for.

EmpressPixie's avatar

My graduation ceremony for college was something like three hours long. I enjoyed it immensely.

My high school graduation was two hours long and completely amazing. Tiny school, though, so two hours included some great speeches. My sister’s high school graduation was two and a half hours long and very amusing. Again, good speeches. My friends’ high school graduation was four hours long, but still nice to watch. My sister’s college graduation was four hours long, but worth it for that moment she marched across the stage.

My point? I enjoy graduation ceremonies. From the pomp and circumstance to the small traditions of each school. I enjoy them. Some people do not. They often choose not to walk. You still get your degree, you just didn’t have to go to the ceremony.

If you don’t enjoy ceremonies and are in one, opt out.
If you don’t enjoy ceremonies and need to watch someone else, explain to them that you are very proud, but you hate that stuff and aren’t going. You can meet them for dinner after.
If you don’t enjoy ceremonies, but feel obligated to attend, suck it up and go.

The ceremonies I’ve attended, the length has come almost entirely from the reading of names. Sure, it was awesome to see my cousin’s class graduate then be able to go to her concentration’s ceremony where something like thirty people got degrees. That was nice. All the ritual, but with a significantly shorter ceremony. But I also enjoyed the full thing and am incredibly thankful that wasn’t something I had to do because choosing what major to honor would have been quite difficult.

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