Student Columnist: Hold Commencement Ceremonies for Dropouts Too

Late last month, Daniel Drake graduated from Pacific Lutheran University.  It was marked by a commencement ceremony.  Six years ago, he dropped out of school due to low grades.  From his current cap-and-gowned vantage point, he believes that moment deserved a ceremony too.

As Drake argued in a column in The Mooring Mast, headlined “A Shout-Out to Dropouts,” “[W]hile the graduates are treated as people, the rest of us are treated as statistics.  Every year, analysts write about why some of us failed to complete all four years of our degree.  Nobody writes about all the work we did to make it through one year, or two, or three.  If we celebrate the hard work of those who graduate, why not celebrate that of those who don’t?”

The type of ceremony Drake envisions is not aimed at “idolizing dropouts,” but acknowledging that the traditional college path is becoming less frequented.

Prior to his recent graduation from PLU, Daniel Drake served as online editor of The Mooring Mast. (Photo courtesy of Drake.)

“Most parents expect college to be a four-year financial commitment,” a recent Reuters report confirmed, “yet it has become so common for undergraduates to stretch out their college years that only about a third of students who set out to graduate in four years actually do so.”  The number of students leaving school prior to graduation has actually risen so dramatically in recent years that the U.S. now boasts the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world.

According to Drake, honoring student dropouts for work completed, regardless of degree earned, also sends a positive message about the nature of learning itself.

As he explains in his column, speaking directly to students, “The world doesn’t end if you don’t get it right the first time.  If you’ve just realized you might not be graduating this year as planned, don’t feel ashamed about the things you weren’t able to do.  Instead, congratulate yourself for all the things you’ve accomplished.”

To read more, click here or on the screenshot below.


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