High school graduation vs. college graduation

Once again, the time of year has come when sappy commercials about growing up crowd the airwaves, a certain Dr. Seuss book flies off the shelves and none of us can get “Pomp and Circumstance” out of our heads.

Yes. It’s graduation time.

Having completed both high school and a bachelors degree, I can’t help but notice the stark differences between those two big moments in my life. If you’ve graduated college, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you just graduated high school and plan to go to college, mark my words: you won’t be as special to everyone again as you are right now.

Here is a list of a few differences between high school graduation and college graduation:

High school – You order overpriced envelopes and invitations to send to anyone who might have ever had an influence on your life (read: folks who kind of know you and will probably send you money).


College – Your finals and/or thesis zapped any energy you may have had for licking embossed envelopes.

High school – Your mom takes you shopping at the mall department store where the two of you labor over the perfect outfit that no one will see under the thin, yet surprisingly hot and itchy robe.


College – You’re probably wearing boxers and the T-shirt you slept in with some nice shoes.

High school – The school administration takes you and your peers out of class for the day to practice the proper formation to walk in, sit down, stand and receive your diploma. Two hours, minimum.


College – Your graduation packet included a note telling you where to be at what time right before the ceremony. You sprint in with eight minutes to spare.

High school – The principal makes note of particularly tricky first and/or last names and asks for the correct pronunciation so neither the student nor the principal looks like a fool.


College – Your graduation packet also included a form to complete with all your academic information, including the phonetic spelling of your name. You hand it to the speaker at the podium before you walk, feeling no more confident that he or she will get your name right than you would that the chamber is empty in a game of Russian roulette.

High school – You may get a little misty-eyed when it hits you that this is the last time you may see some of the people you’ve literally grown up with.


College – You don’t even know the person sitting next to you.

High school – You hang on the valedictorian’s, salutatorian’s and principal’s every word, absorbing each moment of the occasion.


College – You catch up on some sleep you didn’t get last night.

High school – Everyone wants pictures with everyone after the ceremony, and moms are crying all over the place.


College – You text your parents from the car and ask them where they want to eat.

High school – Your family throws you a party, your school throws a party and you and your friends probably have a party the next day or next week. There is so much love and excitement.


College – You hug your parents goodbye and promise to be home in a few days before you catch up on Game of Thrones in your M&M pajama pants.

High school – A little tear slips down your cheek when you realize what a big step you just took and how your life is about to change.


College – You fall asleep at 9 p.m. because you’ve either got a shift at your job tomorrow or you volunteered to teach a children’s Sunday school class.

High school – Everyone bombards you with the same question: “Soooo…what’s next?”


College – Everyone bombards you with the same question: “Soooo…what’s next?”


All joking aside, whichever of these milestones you’ve just reached, be proud of yourself, savor the moment and hold onto the excitement about what your future holds.

-Much love from a member of the class of 2009 and the class of 2013


4 Replies to “High school graduation vs. college graduation”

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