Social Media Emerges as Important Part of Graduation Ceremonies

By Catherine Groux
Posted May 22, 2012 03:19 PM

Students are increasingly encouraged to document their graduations through social media.
Students are increasingly encouraged to document their graduations through social media.
In the past, students were told to leave their cellphones at home during their graduation ceremonies as they quietly waited to recieve their bachelor's degree. This is no longer the case, as students not only bring their smartphones to their graduation ceremonies, but are encouraged to use them to tweet, check in and update their status.

Students who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for example, were asked to tweet photos of their ceremonies and use the hashtag "#UWgrad," the school's website states. The university then collected their favorite photos and added them to a special section on its website.

States away in Tennessee, bachelor's degree seekers at Vanderbilt University were also encouraged to tweet about their graduation using the hashtag "VU2012," according to the institution's website. The university posts the latest 20 tweets with this hashtag on its website every 30 seconds, giving students and their families the chance to see what other people are saying about this important milestone.

While social media is emerging as an important part of many schools' graduation ceremonies, Boston's Suffolk University took this trend to a whole new level. During this year's commencement, students could check into the event on FourSquare to earn a special badge or send texts to be displayed on a screen at the ceremony, Metro reports. Additionally, new graduates were encouraged to use the hashtag "#Suffolk2012" to tweet about the commencement, as faculty took the time to retweet students' messages. This use of social media was so popular at the ceremony that by the early afternoon, Suffolk was trending on Twitter, according to Metro.

George T. Comeau, Suffolk's director of digital and interactive communications, told Metro that this use of social media allows both students and their guests to become more engaged in the ceremony.

"You used to tell people to leave their phones at home because basically, your participation was passive," Comeau said. "What has changed, in a great that the audience is now integrated as part of an event like this."

Tom Testa, assistant vice president of public relations at Boston University, another school that encouraged the use of social media during its commencement ceremony, shared Comeau's sentiment that websites like Twitter help students engage in such an important time in their lives.

"We share things, whether photos or musings going on," Testa told Metro. "Given that everyone is online and everything is on people's handhelds, it's another way for people to connect."

We recommend