Ninety-one dollars. That’s what it costs me to walk at my graduation ceremony in May. Ninety-one dollars for a cap, gown and cord. But it must have been a good deal because I got a “free” T-shirt with my order, right?
After (almost) four years of rigorous course work and dean’s list achievements, I am finally ready to say goodbye to college and move on with my life. I am ready to walk with my fellow classmates across that stage and accept that well-earned diploma in front of friends and family. But those four years all come down to 10 seconds of fame, as my name is called and I make my way across the stage wearing a $91 designer cap and gown.
And you certainly can’t walk across that stage without that designer gown.
But there isn’t one set fee for everyone. You’re graduating with honors? That’s an extra $30. You’re taller than the average human being? That’s an extra fee. You’re shorter than the average human being? That’s also an extra fee. You’re the average human being? That’s standard price, but you may want to purchase a fancy cord, so that’s extra.
Some of my friends purchased their designer cap and gown for a mere $81, some of them purchased theirs for $130. This material, so gentle and flattering, is the mandatory attire needed to walk across the stage on May 17. This gown, also seen on the runway during Fashion Week in Paris, is surely worth the money.
Students who have worked so hard to graduate with honors look forward to set themselves apart from a sea of black silk and wear a pure gold cord around their neck. But you need to pay for that cord. Yes, you stayed up countless days to hand in that assignment to keep your GPA up. Yes, you passed on spending time with friends on a Friday night so your work is immaculate for your honors courses. And you deserve to be recognized. For $30 extra, you can.
We’re constantly being sent emails to donate money to the school after we graduate, because four years at Oswego State doesn’t cost enough money to begin with. These donation tables are strategically placed in the same room where you purchase your designer cap and gown. Once you’re done spending that $91, you can also donate money to the school. Perhaps while you pay off your loans, you can also send that donation check.
Ultimately, we all work hard toward the same goal: get the diploma. We earn it, we pay for it, we deserve it. We deserve to walk across the stage and be handed a blank sheet of paper that doubles for a diploma. We deserve to sit through two hours of speeches and promises about how we will succeed in the future. But all of this comes down to buying the attire to attend the ceremony. Because without the attire, there is no ceremony.
So while we all sit in the Campus Center Ice Arena and we listen to speeches, line up to walk across the stage, flash smiles and wave to our parents, we should forget that the school managed to squeeze the last pennies it can ever gain from us before we leave to cover our high-end designer silk cap and gowns.
Except the tag says “Sizes 5’4-5’6.” Is that a new designer?