Rant of the day (graduation inflation edition)

An email from a co-author today referred to the “graduation inflation” in reference to attending his son’s pre-school graduation this morning.  Perfect term for a trend that’s been really bugging me as all over facebook lately, my friends have been attending pre-school, kindergarten, 5th grade, 6th grade, and 8th grade “graduations.”  David actually had a ceremony for end of 5th grade (end of elementary here) today, but they didn’t push the “graduation” angle too hard.  I’m sorry, it’s not a graduation unless you leave with a diploma or degree in hand.  You know more “graduate” from 8th grade than you do from 4th grade.  You finish and move on to high school.  That’s it.  Is it worthy of some commemoration?  Sure, that’s totally reasonable, but please stop calling it graduation.  Also, be proud of your kid because they’re a good kid, they worked hard, whatever, but don’t be “proud” because they finished 8th grade.  Accomplishing something 99.9% of other upper-middle class white kids do is really not very special.  End rant.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

5 Responses to Rant of the day (graduation inflation edition)

  1. I’m heading to a preschool celebration which isn’t even a graduation and my son is not involved and I’m still a bit skeptical. that said, in az you do graduate from the 8th grade. and unless you do you are not permitted to enter high school. (i even have my 8th grade diploma)

  2. Amanda B says:

    I’ve often thought about how our celebrations get smaller and smaller, the more advanced the “degree.” High school graduation is a big deal – lots of people, lots of food, all sorts of presents – even though many, many Americans reach this milestone. Undergraduate graduation is less so – maybe just extended family, fewer if any gifts. Only my immediate family attended my master’s graduation ceremony and a few friends came over for food. As I’m facing the PhD – the degree that a small percentage of Americans earn – I’m guessing the gathering will shrink some more.

  3. Kim says:

    I had a graduation ceremony for both kindergarten and 5th grade and I enjoyed them immensely. Maybe it should be called something else, but I think it’s nice to have a celebration of sorts for meeting a milestone in your life. Going from elementary school to middle school IS a big deal. It’s the beginning of the end of your childhood and I think it’s okay to have a celebration for it.

  4. Steve Greene says:

    Maybe it’s just a word, but words matter– marriage anyone? I just really don’t like the idea of this as a “graduation,” and I especially object to the trappings of an actual graduation. Celebrating that you have completed elementary or middle school? I’m actually okay with that.

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