Categorized | Graduation

Where is Your Diploma?

Posted on 28 October 2008

You’ve been working towards getting your degree for four, five, or maybe even six years — or ten if you’re me and, despite your parents, decided that you couldn’t continue through to junior year without knowing what you really wanted to do. Finally, the nights of passing up concerts and parties and new movie releases for the sake of writing that twelve page paper you’ve waited too long to start, are over. You’ve done it. You’ve walked across the stage, shook the hand of the Dean of your college, and received a rolled-up blank sheet of paper -with a ribbon around it, no less- pretending to be your diploma.

Then one day, some weeks after all the pomp and circumstance, when you’ve almost forgotten you’ve been waiting for it, it arrives: “First Class Mail,” and “DO NOT BEND” are printed on the hefty cardboard envelope. You now have the actual thing; that piece of paper that officially certifies your years of hard work and dedication. But now that you’ve got it, what are you going to do with it?

Conveniently provided to you in the packaging accompanying your diploma are some suggestions in the form of a full-color order form. You can choose to proudly display it in a specially made frame sent to you for only $31.95 (plus $7.95 shipping and handling), or a “Deep-Etched Plaque” on a walnut base at almost three times that. A good option, but on which wall does it belong? The only walls I’ve seen diplomas displayed on are in doctors or therapists’ offices where they provide a sense of credibility and assuredness that you’re spending your money in the right place.

Another choice is to send it to a parent or significant other for safekeeping. If they supported you -whether emotionally, financially, or both – during your years of studying, tests, and final exams, perhaps they’d like a tangible object to remember their efforts by.

Maybe like me, you’ll come across it while organizing the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. Last week I found mine, still in its “DO NOT BEND” envelope. I pulled it out and set it on a bookshelf. I decided to call some friends to find out what they had done with their diplomas, hoping to get an idea or two about what to do with mine.

My friend Anne from Phoenix told me, “I had mine copied onto postcards and sent them out to friends and relatives as a graduation announcement.”

I’m sure my friend, Scott, who now resides in L.A., would’ve been as equally creative if he knew where to find his. He said, “My diploma is in a box with my cap and gown in a storage unit on LaBrea, I think, but don’t quote me on that.”

My favorite response was from my friend Tania in San Francisco. She was one of those people who wasn’t sure she would be graduating as scheduled until grades were posted for the final semester. When I asked her what she did with her diploma, she told me, “Mine’s on my kitchen table as a laminated placemat. I eat off of it!

This got me thinking about what a diploma really is. Unless you’re trying to get into law or medical school where they require you to mail them a certified copy, a diploma only really serves as a physical reminder of your graduation and your years of diligence. So, decide how often you want to be reminded. Have it framed or laminated, stuff it in a box, or lose track of it all together. There is no one thing to do with it. The choice is yours.

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