AskDefine | Define graduating

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  1. present participle of graduate

Extensive Definition

Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the associated ceremony. The date of event is often called degree day. The event itself is also called commencement, convocation or invocation. At the University of Cambridge, it is known as general admission. In the United States and Canada, it is also used to refer to the advancement from a primary or secondary school level. Beginning at the secondary school level in the United States, such ceremonies usually include a procession of the faculty and candidates. The candidates will almost always wear academic dress, and increasingly faculty will do the same. At the college and university level, the faculty will usually wear academic dress at the formal ceremonies, as will the trustees and degree candidates. "Graduation" at the college and university level occurs when the presiding officer confers degrees upon candidates, either individually or en masse, even if graduates physically receive their diploma later at a smaller college or departmental ceremony.

United States of America

The American Council on Education is the authority on academic regalia in the United States, and has developed an Academic Ceremony Guide that is generally followed by most institutions of higher learning. The ceremony guide and the related Academic Costume Code provide the core of academic ceremony traditions in the United States.
At many large U. S. institutions, where many hundreds of degrees are being granted at once, the main ceremony (commencement) in a sports stadium, amphitheater, parade ground or lawn, or other large - often outdoor - venue is followed by smaller ceremonies (diploma ceremony) at sites around campus where deans and faculty of each academic organization (college, department, program, etc.) distribute diplomas to their graduates. Another means of handling very large numbers of graduates is to have several ceremonies, divided by field of study, at a central site over the course of a weekend instead of one single ceremony. The final problem that arises is the large number of family members / guests that each graduating student wants to attend. Universities try to circumvent this by allocating a specified number of graduation tickets to each student that will be graduating.
In any case, typically each candidate is given a diploma by an academic administrator or official such as the dean or department head. It is also common for graduates not to receive their actual diploma at the ceremony but instead a certificate indicating that they participated in the ceremony or a portfolio to hold the diploma in. At the high school level, this allows teachers to withhold diplomas from students who are unruly during the ceremony; at the college level, this allows students who need an extra quarter or semester to satisfy their academic requirements to nevertheless participate in the official ceremony with their classmates before receiving their degree.
At most colleges and universities in the U. S., the faculty technically will recommend that each candidate be given a degree, which is then formally conferred by the president or other institutional official. Typically, this is accomplished by a pair of short set speeches by a senior academic official and a senior institutional official: "Mr. President, on behalf of the faculty of Letters and Science, I hereby declare that these candidates have met all the requirements for the degree of ... and request that such degree be conferred upon them." "Under the authority vested in me by the State of (?) and the Trustees of ? College, I hereby confer upon these candidates the degree of ..."
For students receiving an advanced degree, many colleges, including MIT, UNC and UCLA, have added a Hooding Ceremony to their roster of commencement events. At Fordham University, graduates of a college self-hood en masse after the university president confers the degree upon them from the podium during commencement (doctorates are hooded upon the stage). The hood is a part of traditional academic dress, whose origins date back many centuries. Today, the hood is considered by some to be the most expressive component of the academic costume. The hood’s length signifies the degree; with the school’s colors in the lining and a velvet trim in a color that signifies the scholar’s field. Today’s hoods have evolved from a practical garment to a symbolic one, and are worn draped around the neck and over the shoulders, displayed down the back with the lining exposed.

Graduation speech

A graduation or commencement speech, in the U.S., is a public speech given by a student or by alumnus of a university to a graduating class and their guests. Common themes of the graduation speech include wishing the graduates well in the "real world", cautioning that the world of academe is a special place where they were taught to think (a common variation contradicts this view). Most recently, especially in prestigious institutions, the trend has been to find a celebrity (often one with no apparent connection to the specific institution or education in general) or a politician to deliver the speech. A notable exception is the annual Columbia University Commencement, at which the tradition has been that only the current university president shall give the commencement address. Individual colleges and schools of Columbia often invite a speaker at their individual graduation ceremonies, however.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, unlike the United States, students do not usually 'graduate' from school below university level. They will normally leave secondary school, high school or sixth form college (if applicable) with specific qualifications, often GCSEs and A-levels respectively (Standard Grades and Higher National Courses in Scotland). However, these are not diplomas and are not necessarily presented in a formal ceremony.
Many university graduation ceremonies in the United Kingdom begin with a procession of academics, wearing academic dress. This procession is accompanied by music, and a ceremonial mace is often carried. After this, an official reads out the names of the graduates one by one, organized by class of degree or by subject. When their names are called, the graduates walk across the stage to shake hands with a senior official, often the university's Chancellor or the vice-chancellor. Graduands wear the academic dress of the degree they are receiving. Serving members of the armed forces may wear their military uniform underneath. Member institutions of the University of Wales hold their graduation ceremonies almost entirely in the Welsh language. Some of the older universities may hold their graduation ceremonies in Latin, even though few students understand this language. The Latin section of the ceremony may include a rendition of an anthem, sometimes called the unofficial anthem of all universities, the De Brevitate Vitae, also known as The Gaudeamus.

University of Cambridge

There are, however, a number of variations. At the University of Cambridge for example, each graduation is a separate act of the university's governing body, the Regent House, and must be voted on as with any other act. A formal meeting of the Regent House, known as a Congregation, is held for this purpose.
Graduates receiving an undergraduate degree wear the academical dress that they were entitled to before graduating: for example, most students becoming Bachelors of Arts wear undergraduate gowns and not BA gowns. Graduates receiving a postgraduate degree (e.g. PhD or Master's) wear the academical dress that they were entitled to before graduating, only if their first degree was also from the University of Cambridge; if their first degree is from another university, they wear the academical dress of the degree that they are about to receive, the BA gown without the strings if they are under 24 years of age, or the MA gown without strings if they are 24 and over.
In all cases, graduands wear the hood of the degree which they are to receive. Where two or more degrees are being received at once, as is now commonly the case with science graduates, the hood of the higher degree is worn.

The Open University

Due to the large number and geographical dispersion of students, unlike most UK universities, degree ceremonies at the Open University are not the occasion on which degrees are formally conferred. This happens in absentia at a joint meeting of the University's Council and Senate ahead of the ceremony. The University's ceremonies –- or "Presentations of Graduates" — occur during the long summer throughout Britain and Ireland, as well as one ceremony in Versailles.


In Japan, because the school year begins in April, the graduation ceremony usually occurs in early March. Third-year Senior High School students (equivalent to 12th grade in Canada and the United States) take their finals in early February, so they are able to pass entrance examinations in universities prior to graduation. This break may contribute to the emotional charge of the event.
Although Japanese schools differ greatly in size (from a mere dozen to thousands of students), the nature of the graduation ceremony itself remains similar. It usually takes place in the school auditorium or agora, or for poorer schools, in the gymnasium. Special drapes, curtains and scrolls are hung to the walls and doors. A certain number of chairs are reserved for parents (usually mothers) to come, as well as local officials. The students do not wear robes or mortarboards. Depending on the school, they might have to buy and wear a one-time only graduation uniform. Most of the time they simply wear their regular school uniform.
At first, all students from the 1st and 2nd grades (equivalent to 10th or 11th grade) wait. Then the graduates march in to the sound of a classical march, often rendered by the school's brass band. A complex series of announcements are made, which cue the students to stand up, bow, sit down. The homeroom teacher for each class calls out the names of his or her students in the usual gender-split alphabetical order. This means that boys are called out in alphabetical order first, then the girls. Upon hearing their names, the students say はい (Hai) or "Yes" and remain at attention until all students have been called. Recently some schools have discontinued splitting the class by gender. Both the national anthem and school song are sung by everyone. The head of the student council reads a short congratulatory address to the graduates. This is different from a valedictorian speech. Unlike a valedictorian's speech, it is somewhat pre-set and heavily edited by the teachers responsible for the ceremony. Afterwards, the principal launches into a long-winded speech as is the tradition in most schools. Perseverance, hard work and patience are the most common themes brought up on the occasion.
The principal might wear a full tuxedo, complete with handkerchief and white gloves. The student’s ID number and name are read out loud, the diploma is handed over in full size (not rolled-up). The student receives it with both hands, raises it up in the air and bows to the principal before leaving the stage. There can be background music playing in the meantime, either from tape or CD, or provided by the school's brass band. Common songs include "Aogeba tōtoshi" and "Hotaru no hikari" (Sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne)
Once the diplomas have been all handed out, a few more announcements and speeches are made, by PTA (parent-teacher association) representatives or someone from the municipal or local government, depending on the school’s status. To the sound of another march, the students leave the auditorium and go back to their class for a final address by their homeroom teacher. During that time, the rest of the school, teachers and students alike, proceed to undress the auditorium, put the chairs away and clean up. A few moments later, the graduates are free to roam around the school, in and out of the teachers’ office, saying their goodbyes to their favorite teachers and reminiscing the good times. Although some tears can be shed at the time, and genuine smiles are seen on all faces, the whole process remains stiff by Western standard. There are no handshakes or hugs to be seen, but instead a lot of bowing and sniffling.
The regular calendar does not end with graduation. The next business day after the ceremony (usually a Monday), 1st and 2nd year students all come back to class. For another two to three weeks, the school continues without the 3rd year students present, which makes for lighter schedules (for the teachers), and quieter hallways at break-times.


In India, graduations are not practiced as a compulsory custom. But nowadays many universities conduct colourful graduation ceremonies.


In Junior High and High School, the graduation ceremony doesn't get much importance, only in a few private schools. However, in college, particularly in UNAM and IPN, the graduation ceremony takes place in a very similar way to the USA


External links

graduating in German: Graduierung (akademisch)
graduating in Indonesian: Wisuda
graduating in Italian: Graduation
graduating in Malay (macrolanguage): Konvokesyen
graduating in Japanese: 卒業
graduating in Russian: Выпускной вечер
graduating in Simple English: Graduation
graduating in Ukrainian: Градуювання
graduating in Chinese: 畢業
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