In response to COVID-19, many colleges are shifting commencement ceremonies to virtual events, if not postponing indefinitely or canceling them altogether. After all their hard work through college, students graduating this semester may never have the opportunity to wear their cap and gown or walk across the graduation stage. It’s easy to imagine the disappointment for students and their families who are missing out on these important rituals.
Global pandemic or not, this is a huge moment for our students! Here are a few ideas to help keep the celebration in this milestone.
Host a virtual graduation party
Graduating from college is a time of celebration to be shared with family and friends. In other words, it’s time to party! Bring your community together through a virtual graduation party on Zoom or Houseparty. Try out Facebook’s new graduation features on Messenger Rooms, with special features including a virtual graduation hub and customer filters. This can be an occasion for tear-jerker speeches, a slideshow of student memories, or graduation-themed games and activities.
Virtual commencement ceremonies are becoming the must-see events of the season! With many organizations hosting their own events, graduates are sure to find inspiration that speaks to their experience and encourages them on the road ahead. A few events to share with your graduates include:
- Virtual Indigenous Commencement, hosted by Indigenous Education, Inc., Home of the Cobell Scholarship, and partners (ceremony took place May 1, but offering ongoing programming)
- LGBTQ+ Virtual Graduation Ceremony, co-presented by Human Rights Campaign and GLSEN (May 8)
- #Graduation2020: Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020, with commencement address by Oprah Winfrey, remarks from Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X, and Simone Biles, and a performance by Miley Cyrus (May 15)
- Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition, with remarks from President Barack Obama (May 16)
- Dear Class of 2020, with commencement speakers including President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, BTS, Lady Gaga, Sec. Robert M. Gates, Sundar Pichai, Sec. Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai (June 6)
Shout out your grads on social media
Turn to Facebook and Instagram to show your graduates that you’ve seen all their hard work and are proud of what they have accomplished. For example, the Worthington Scholarship Foundation is expanding on its social approach this year by sharing an in-depth story on each graduate on Facebook. At the Dell Scholars program, graduates are invited to share photos and videos marking the completion of their college journey. The content will be shared with the student and alumni community on their private Facebook and Instagram pages.
Invite your followers to offer congratulations, and graduates can share your highlight with their own social networks as well. A social post is one small but meaningful way to honor each student and give them the recognition they deserve.
Mark the occasion with graduation gifts
An unexpected delivery could be a great pick-me-up for graduating students who have been sheltering in place. Send “graduation in a box” with all the cheesy decorations they need to celebrate with family or friends at home, or a Shutterfly gift card to help them create a photo book of graduation photos when the time is right. Remember, graduation gifts don’t have to stretch your budget. Consider a t-shirt welcoming them to the alumni community, a cookie delivery (custom-branded or good old-fashioned chocolate chip), or even a congratulatory card. In this case, it really is the thought that counts. Show your students you’re thinking of them.
Graduation may look different than normal this year, but there are many ways to celebrate our students and honor all the hard work it took to reach this milestone. With a little creativity, we can help deliver all the pomp and circumstance these graduates deserve.