This article is more than 5 years old

To cap it all off: Graduation decoration excitement

Paul Greatrix looks at the new trend of decorating graduation caps at US graduation ceremonies.
This article is more than 5 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

A step too far in the UK?

There has been plenty of coverage of different aspects of graduation here before from the ceremonial matters to the important place of the mace.

UK graduations do differ from US commencement ceremonies in a number of ways, beyond just the name. One distinctive difference is graduation cap decoration which is very popular in the US.

Look at this competition at UC Davis for example:

It’s that time of year once again! Graduation is right around the corner and we want to see your decorated graduation caps. Enter the UC Davis Grad Cap contest to show off your creativity and get the chance to win a bunch of awesome Aggie swag!

The rules are pretty tight and decorations must not breach copyright laws or include nudity, drugs, or alcohol. The first prize is well worth having though and amounts to over $500 in value.

The voting takes place on the UC Davis Facebook page and a vote consists of any Facebook reactions: “like”, “love”, “haha”, “wow”, “sad” or “angry”.

It will be interesting to see who wins that one.

Earlier in the year Drexel university announced the winners of its 2018 commencement cap contest:

At this year’s graduation ceremonies, many Drexel University graduating students take the time to decorate their commencement caps, putting their own unique spin on the standard navy blue cap that all graduates receive.
For the first time, these students had the time to use their arts and crafts skills to enter their graduation caps in a special Drexel Instagram contest. And they really went above and beyond in putting their own spin on their Drexel pride.
Using the #capcontest18 and #foreverdragons hashtags on Instagram, these Dragons uploaded pictures of their creativity.

Here’s the winner and runner up:


And here are some other examples from a quick online image search.

It is clearly a big thing in the US but has yet to catch on in the UK. That’s probably because the vast majority of students still hire their graduation paraphernalia rather than buying it (despite the best efforts of online sales disruptors) and Messrs Ede and Ravenscroft are not going to be very happy if they get a mortar board back covered in paint, glue and sticky tape.

Still, as with many other higher ed innovations from North America I suspect it won’t be too long before UK universities are running graduation cap design competitions.

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