Last year, we all saw how the class of 2020 became the class of Covid-19 and went through a senior year like no other with no graduation ceremony, no graduation tour, no prom night, and no group pictures with friends dressed in graduation gowns.
In 2021, commencement season came with a bunch of uncertainties and has been a year with a mixture of virtual, hybrid, or restricted in-person ceremonies. Because earlier or towards the end of this year, when many schools/colleges prepared to head back to celebrate graduation in person, many choose to celebrate online or adopt the hybrid way.
And here the central question comes, and that is-
What would be the situation in 2022? Will all institutions drive back to the older ritual to organize the commencement program, or do they still need to look for alternatives?
Before getting into the topic, let’s discuss two alternatives to the in-person graduation ceremony and how it works.
Virtual Graduation Ceremony:
With the hit of COVID 19, virtual graduation became a certain option to celebrate the success of the graduates as school, college, or university authorities moved to arrange commencement online, utilizing the technology in their hands. Though agendas for the graduation ceremony may vary depending on the institutions but in most cases, to organize the event effortlessly, organizers choose software for virtual graduation. Because from registration to generating personalized slides and hosting the whole event to selling memorabilia, virtual graduation software turns the work much easier.
Ultimately throwing the virtual graduation, the graduates are expected to make the most as they are invited together with their friends and family in one platform; they get chances to dress up with their graduation cap and gown while being honored. But the regrets are present in the fact that everything happens online.
Hybrid Graduation Ceremony:
Just like a hybrid event, hybrid graduation is a combination of the live and virtual commencement ceremony. Here it brings flexibility as students or guests from any place can join and participate. With the rapid spread out of the COVID vaccines and reduction of COVID restrictions, hybrid graduation became one popular alternative that many organizers choose to organize commencement ceremonies.
It maintains the social distancing efforts with a limited number of guests and spaced-out sitting arrangements. Also, it provides choices to participate among the students who don’t want to miss out on the chance to walk through the aisle to receive their certificate and those who have safety concerns or have some time or time zone constraints.
Getting both live and virtual graduation experiences might be the one cause behind the popularity of hybrid graduation when many planners have been cutting down on virtual events.
How did graduation look like this year?
Now after more than a year and a half into the pandemic, if we look for an overview of 2021 graduation programs, it is visible that high schools, colleges, or universities have rolled out different measures to arrange the commencement ceremony. In this year, some students got the chance to be in the spotlight and celebrate their success via in-person events, where many institutions even included the class of 2020 as a part of the in-person or hybrid commencement event in 2021. But, again, unlike these, many institutions remain stick to the virtual offerings depending on the COVID situation.
For example, we can mention Arizona State University, where the school-wide spring graduation ceremony in May 2021 happened virtually. But again, some individual colleges celebrated through in-person commencement events where the participants were limited to the graduates and the academic deans.
And those who managed to include some hybrid offerings in the commencement added features like drive-through to add more excitement to the celebration. For example, Santa Fe College in Florida organized a hybrid graduation plan for their graduates and included a car parade and celebration dinner followed by the hybrid graduation ceremony.
So here we can see how institutions have handled commencement events this year, not only including the online graduation ceremony, but many institutions managed to do it by holding limited in-person graduation ceremonies or adopting a hybrid way to celebrate their graduates. Even some institutions adopted different alternatives for the spring graduates and fall graduates. Such as, if we look over the commencement announcement for fall graduates of Arizona State University, it will host an in-person graduation event for the fall graduates in December 2021 when it adopted a virtual way for the spring graduates, as we mentioned earlier.
So just as this, can we expect the counter of the in-person graduation ceremony in 2022 in every program? Let’s explore.
Will the COVID situation shape the commencement ceremony in 2022 also?
After observing the mix and match commencement scenario of the running year, the crucial question comes whether the pandemic will have its effect on the commencement ceremony in 2022 or not.
Let’s look over the recent data of the COVID situation in the United States, which will help us predict institutions’ graduation ceremony hosting plans in 2022. So here is the chart of COVID cases in the USA showing the latest map and case count.
Source: The New York Times
Here the picture shows the current state of the virus and indicates the situation where the national state of the recent cases is quite mentionable. But again, if we look over the different regions’ cases, we will get that conditions in all areas are not the same.
The below chart shows how average daily cases per capita have changed in different parts of the country.
Source: The New York Times
This picture shows that the peak time was at the beginning of this year with the highest number of cases. Now, if we focus on the recent months, the situation in the South has become stable compared to the Midwest, West, and Northeast, but the number is still not to its minimum. And here till now, it is justified to say that the situation has not dyed out enough to arrange a fully in-person graduation ceremony.
Hence the matter is up for debate whether institutions are going for fully virtual or keep some hybrid option. Let’s look at some of the plans for the 2022 graduation announcement. It is visible that some institutions have already announced that they will go for the virtual graduation event, and some will arrange hybrid graduation events. Also, institutions that will go for the in-person event will split the event into several ceremonies. For example, Ithaca College in New York has already announced its commencement plan with two split ceremonies for the class of 2022.
However, it is predictable that just as in 2021, we will also see a mixture of in-person, hybrid, and virtual features in the commencement ceremony in 2022. And to turn the process, effortless one definitely requires a commencement platform. Just as that, GradPak is that one trustworthy, easy-to-use, and all-in-one virtual & hybrid graduation software that can assist one to host no matter whether the event is hybrid, virtual, or in-person.