20 Ways To Improve Graduation Ceremonies

1. Cut the valedictorian speech in half and give the remaining time to the student with the lowest GPA who still managed to graduate. These two probably have equally important life lessons to impart.

2. Sure, you can walk the stage and accept your diploma — if you don’t get abducted by the Temple Guards!

3. Instead of only recognizing the awards, scholarships, and honors bestowed upon graduates by professors, let’s include some student-voted awards, like “Most Undistinguished Track Record of Questionable Hookups” and “Outstanding Achievement in the field of Day Drinking.”

4. While graduation gowns are part of one of my favorite fashion groups (“Clothes You May be Unexpectedly Naked Under”), they fall well behind trench coats and robes. Trench coats may attract sex offenders, so let’s switch to robes. Graduates can feel free to make selections from the Hugh Hefner or Ric Flair collections.

5. But let’s scrap the weird academic robes professors wear that make them look like extras from a Hogwarts faculty meeting.

6. My best friend growing up had a dusty VHS titled “Monster Truck Bloopers.” Anytime we got bored I begged him, “Come on man, let’s watch that tape of monster truck bloopers!” But he always brushed it off, saying that the video wasn’t as cool as it sounded. I mean, how could “Monster Truck Bloopers” possibly not be extraordinarily entertaining? At the very least, playing them on large video screens during the boring parts of graduation ceremonies might liven things up a bit.

7. Hand all the graduates a dozen eggs prior to the ceremony. See what happens.

8. Affordable hologram technology: many students attend graduation just for their parent’s sake, so would it really make any difference if it was just a hologram of you walking across the stage to get your diploma? The parents don’t have to know. Hell, they wouldn’t understand it even if we explained it to them.

9. Instead of having us wait on a really long line to walk the stage and shake hands with a bunch of strangers to get our diplomas, why don’t they just shoot them into the crowd at us using one of those t-shirt guns?

10. The best commencement speech I’ve ever seen is the one Conan O’Brien gave at Harvard for the class of 2000. His closing remarks were, “I will go now to make bigger mistakes and to embarrass this fine institution even more. But let me leave you with one last thought: If you can laugh at yourself, loud and hard, every time you fall, people will think you’re drunk. Thank you.” Future commencement speakers might want to watch this speech for inspiration and tips.

11. Hey, boisterous family celebrating your graduate’s achievement with an intricate and prolonged session of hooting and hollering that drowns out the names of the next four students… do me a favor: Shut the hell up.

12. Some schools have graduation ceremonies in their historic football stadiums or state-of-the-art basketball arenas; NYU even uses Yankee Stadium. Obviously, not every school can use grandiose settings like these, especially smaller schools with limited resources. But even on a small budget, these schools can still use memorable, iconic locations. I recommend a setting with ambiance and tradition, like an abandoned construction site, or the remains of a condemned movie theater.

13. Or better yet, one of those Medieval Times places where you watch Renaissance Fair actors joust for your amusement while you eat greasy chicken without utensils. They could let you ride one of the horses when you went up to get your diploma.

14. Two words: moon shoes.

15. At my graduation ceremony this year, my school’s (previously unknown to me) a cappella group launched into a version of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” “Good Riddance” was also my 5th grade graduation song, 15 years ago. Sorry Vitamin C, but shouldn’t we get some new songs in the graduation rotation? I hereby recommend “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal — it has nothing to do with graduating, but if it’s good enough for the Batman Forever soundtrack, it’s good enough for me, damn it.

16. Let’s take that one step further — individual entrance songs. Like pro wrestlers. With pyrotechnics.

17. You know that $5,000 appearance fee you paid to some obscure state legislator to make the ceremony seem more impressive? You could’ve used that to nab someone cool, like Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or a retired American Gladiator. Hell, you probably could’ve gotten all of the American Gladiators.

18. I call this The Price is Right idea: students get called down to the stage in groups of four by an overzealous announcer commanding them to, “Come on downnnnnn!” The four potential graduates then try and guess the exact total of their student debt. The closest bidder is rewarded with a diploma and a set of steak knives.

19. Dear University,

When I graduated, you asked me my height, used it to infer my head size, and gave me a corresponding mortarboard. Unfortunately, although I’m of average height, I have the head of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon float. The cap you gave me rested on the tippy-top of my head like a comically tiny novelty-sized cap. I looked like an academically inclined version of Mr. Met. I know some schools just ask for your cap size — we should probably adopt this method across the board.

People With Big-Ass Heads

20. Just make the damn ceremony shorter. TC mark

image – Alex Fox


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  • Anna Connors

    Good Riddance is by Green Day, not Vitamin C. Just sayin’! 

    • Veronica

      He says this in the article. I’m assuming he’s referencing Vitamin C’s “Graduation” which also seems ubiquitous. (Good Riddance was one of my 6th grade graduation songs, btw.)

      Not sure why but I burst out laughing in my office at “People With Big-Ass Heads.” Thank you :)

  • http://twitter.com/woodpidge woodpidge

    I’m in full support of the t-shirt gun idea.  We have to arrive at the venue an hour and a half before the ceremony starts… Oh, and it’s on Friday the 13th.  I own a Jason Vorhees mask and have been thinking about taking it along.  The eyeholes are meshed out, which means I could sleep through most of it.

    • Ted Pillow

      That would be so disturbing and awesome. Afterwards, when all of your classmates are out celebrating, you could punish them for their youthful indiscretions by violently disenbowling them.

  • http://twitter.com/woodpidge woodpidge

    I think vitamin c is the name of the acapella group… 

  • http://twitter.com/NataliaRoca Natalia Roca

    do you have a twitter?

    • Ted Pillow

      That’s on my To Do list. I’ll probably wind up getting one right as everybody collectively goes, “Ugh, twitter is so lame. Let’s all agree that everyone who still uses it is a completely worthless loser.”

      I’ll be like your friend that got AIM in 2010.

  • TracyW

    My graduation wasnt even in the same town as my high school, also there was a big rig accident that morning which shut down the freeway causing almost all (except for those who spent the night in line at the stadium door?) to be 2 hours late. It was a most stressful day!

  • Amanda

    Totally fell asleep during my high school graduation.

  • Sophia

    Amen to all of this. Especially the parents that drown out other people’s names. Rude.

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