Graduation vs. Commencement – completing requirements vs. a party

Summer is season for graduations.  I was at my cousin’s place in Poughkeepsie a couple of weekends ago, and was part of a cake cutting ceremony.  It was a celebration for four graduates – one from kindergarten, another from elementary, the third from middle school and the fourth from college.

Graduate with a diploma

Now that we are in the midst of summer and graduations are behind us, I wanted to take a moment to share my observations about the term graduation.  I have also heard folks use the word commencement to describe similar events.

Last month, I had spent four days in a retreat with Eckhart Tolle, one of my favorite teachers at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY and had the time to reflect on how we use words and the energy that is associated with them.

Graduate entering the world

I find that the energy associated with “commencement” has the anticipation of a new beginning, much like the sprouting of a sapling or the light of a new day, a celebration, while graduation implies the completion of a phase and moving on to something else.

The simplest distinction that I found was from St. Cloud State University, “Graduation is the completion of all degree requirements as recorded on the official transcript. Commencement is the ceremony that celebrates the completion of a degree. “

Once you became aware of the distinction, would you want to label your party as a graduation party or a commencement party?  While you may think that I may be picking on words, there are numerous occasions where we tend to use lower energy words instead or their higher energy counterparts.

The only resources that we have is time and energy to apply ourselves in this world.  How we leverage them and optimize both determine the output and results that we can attain.  Therefore, it is critical that we are keenly aware of both how we use time and the energy we bring to any task or activity that we engage in.

Be aware of the words you use and make sure they inspire you,


Up Next: Synchronicity: How connections can happen effortlessly