online-college-graduationFinishing a college degree program is an achievement worth celebrating, and that’ why many schools offer an online college graduation ceremony for students that opted to take the distance learning approach while completing their degree and broadening their career options.

Though it’s not necessarily a “rule,” the vast majority of today’s online schools provide some of graduation ceremony that recognizes student achievement, celebrates completion of a program, and gives families the right venue for showing just how proud their are of their new graduate. There are some considerations to keep in mind, however, when choosing an online school and attending a graduation ceremony at the end of the program.

Graduation Ceremony Availability Varies Per Online School

There’s no requirement that online schools, or traditional schools offering an online program, offer a graduation ceremony for their students. All that is technically required of these schools is that they actually grant a real, physical diploma to those students who have completed their course requirements. As a result, it’s very important to look at how the school handles graduation for its online students before agreeing to enroll at that school. For schools that already have an offline component, those who opt for distance learning are typically invited to the same graduation ceremony with their offline counterparts each May and December. They’ll sit alongside their fellow students without any indication that their program was completed online.

For those schools that offer online programs only, things are not necessarily as clear. Many of these institutions do hold annual graduation ceremonies for their students but, because these schools may be located halfway across the country, attendance can be prohibitively expensive for many students. In this case, it might be a good idea to pick an online-only school that’s located somewhat close to home. If the ceremony is in driving distance, it’s much easier to attend.

Remember, Graduation Costs Money Whether Attending the Ceremony or Not

One of the great ironies about higher education is that students pay tens of thousands of dollars to earn their degree, and then have to pay a small graduation fee before their diploma will even be granted. It’s been the butt of jokes for quite some time, but it remains a key part of the degree completion process. Students should keep in mind that this fee is used to finance the diploma, the cap and gown, and the ceremony itself. That means graduates are paying for the ceremony even if they don’t attend. With that being the case, it’s probably a good idea to maximize the value of tuition dollars and mandatory graduation fees by attending the ceremony and inviting close friends or family to attend as well. There’s no better way to celebrate graduation than in the presence of loved ones, with the university’s pomp and circumstance as a backdrop.

Resource: Top 20 Online Colleges with High Return on Investment

Don’t Forget to Tie Up All Loose Ends Prior to Graduation

Finishing a college degree is exciting for everyone involved, but it’s important to remember that the diploma itself will only be awarded once all loose ends are tied up. That means online students must pay their last bills, pay their graduation fee, and ensure that they’re passing all of their last classes. Once those things are taken care of, the ceremony itself is a breeze and online college graduation can go off without a hitch.

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