There are many reasons to earn a college degree: to improve your resume, to advance your career opportunities, and to learn more for your own educational fulfillment. While taking part in a commencement ceremony shouldn’t be the driving factor behind making the commitment to further your education, the prospect of walking across a stage in a graduation gown in front of family members gets many students through the ups and downs. If you’re considering earning a degree online, you may wonder if you will have to miss out on a commencement ceremony.

Commencement Ceremony 12.2013

Graduation as Your First On-Campus Visit

Even if you never set foot on campus to earn your degree, many schools may allow you the option of participating in an on-campus commencement ceremony. After all, you have worked hard to complete your studies. Like traditional students, you have invested many hours in your education, and you deserve the recognition of taking part in a graduation ceremony.

Keep in mind, though, that you will have to address some logistics concerns if you decide to attend an on-campus graduation. For one, you will need to order a cap and gown through your school. If you live a long distance from the campus, you will of course have to make transportation plans and lodging accommodations. Because you don’t know the layout of your campus like traditional students would, you may need to give yourself extra time to find parking and find the destination where you are to line up.

Virtual Commencement Ceremonies

Just as you can take your courses online, you can now attend an online graduation, as well – at least at some colleges. In 2009, Bryant & Stratton College became the first college to offer online commencement ceremony for students graduating from an online degree program, according to Fox News. Since then, numerous schools have embraced the idea, and not only in the United States. BBC News reported later in 2009 that Edinburgh University in Scotland was also pioneering a form of virtual graduation ceremony.

Both schools’ online graduation ceremonies revolved around a 3D online community called Second Life. Students attending the virtual graduation could download graduation gown costumes for the avatars, or visual representations of themselves. Bryant & Stratton College held a fully-developed ceremony online, in which students virtually participated in the procession, listened to speakers and had their degrees conferred on them. In addition to broadcasting live graduation ceremonies, Edinburgh University’s plans for a virtual commencement included celebrations after the completion of the ceremony at a virtual bar.

Whether you choose to attend a traditional commencement ceremony, participate in a virtual ceremony or celebrate privately with friends or family members, allow yourself a chance to reflect on all you have learned and accomplished. Online classes are no easier than classes taken in the classroom. You have worked as hard as a student in a traditional degree program, and you deserve to celebrate your achievements.