Colleges Begin Announcing Graduation Plans for the Class of 2021

When the world shut down last spring, colleges scrambled to simultaneously wrap up the academic year virtually and figure out how to mark graduation for the Class of 2020.

We reported on a number of very creative graduation ideas for high school graduations. There were drive-in movie graduations, a hat-toss mural created by parents, banners of each graduate foisted on lamp posts in the town center, principals who delivered diplomas, and no-end of virtual ceremonies.

Some college parents decided to create their own magic, complete with a do it yourself graduation stage.

An entire year has passed and as difficult as it was for the Class of 2020, the Class of 2021 has actually had their entire senior year transformed by Covid. So what then will colleges do to mark their graduation?

Senior moments are bittersweet.
What will graduation look like for 2021 grads? (Nopphon_1987/Shutterstock)

Colleges have begun announcing commencement plans

Colleges have started announcing their 2021 commencement plans. While some are planning to hold in-person celebrations, others like the University of Michigan and Loyola University of Chicago are sticking to the virtual format for 2021, as is Brandeis University.

Kean College in New Jersey, says that this year will be a repeat of last year with a series of smaller, socially distanced graduation ceremonies on the university’s football field. The ceremonies will be live-streamed for those who are unable to attend in person.

In January, President Paxson of Brown University announced that given continuing concerns about Covid the University will hold in-person graduation, but that families and friends will need to attend virtually. President Paxson added that,

…by sharing these plans now, students and families will be able to better prepare for celebrating their incredible accomplishments virtually on Commencement weekend and in smaller settings at home or elsewhere in the days and weeks following.

President Paxson, President

Emory University has announced that will be holding modified in-person graduation, with each student allowed up to two guests with others following online. Emory told their students body that,

As with so many aspects of our lives today, we will need to be creative in adapting traditional elements of our ceremonies while incorporating COVID-19 health and safety protocols. For this reason, we have contracted to host enhanced diploma ceremonies at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), located a short drive from campus in the heart of downtown Atlanta.

Gregory L. Fenves, President 

Jan Love
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Indiana University told its students that it “….is hopeful that within the context of public health guidance at that time, we will be able to host our graduates on campus and recognize you at the May 2021 Graduate or Undergraduate Commencement.”

Florida State University, University of Kansas, Dartmouth College, Smith College, University of Florida, University of South Carolina, and Notre Dame have all announced in=person events around graduation.

So, while some schools have made their decisions about graduation, many others are still keeping a wary eye on Covid, hoping that the graduation of the Class of 2021 will look more like 2019 than 2020.

More to Read:

College Graduation Gift List

About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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