When our son Jim “graduated” from preschool, there was a very formal ceremony, complete with little caps and gowns. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), we had already planned a trip to Disneyworld for the same dates. Forced to choose between Disney and sitting through a scholarly ritual, for some reason little Jim chose the former. He didn’t face a similar choice at the end of elementary school — we all dutifully attended — and the whole family will also attend his graduation from middle school at the end of the month.
I attended preschool as a child, but I don’t recall such a ceremony when I advanced to kindergarten. Indeed, I don’t even remember an elementary or middle-school graduation. The first graduation ceremony I participated in was high school, and the last was college (even though I’ve got two graduate degrees). My mom didn’t attend my college graduation 2,000 miles away from my hometown, preferring to spend the money travelling with me to Europe later that summer. “High school is the ceremony that really matters to parents,” she told me at the time.
So that got us to wondering: how important are these various graduation ceremonies to Cognitive Daily readers? How far out of their way will they go? And are there systematic differences as to who attends what ceremony? Last week’s survey sought to answer those questions. We asked readers whether they would attend ceremonies in the same city, travelling three hours, and travelling overnight. We also asked whose ceremonies they’d attend: their own, their children’s, or their niece / nephews. Here are the results (click on the image for a larger version):
As you might expect, readers are most likely to attend their own children’s graduation ceremonies, regardless of the school level. Pre-, elementary-, and middle-school ceremonies get dramatically less respect than high school, college, and graduate school. However, unlike my mom, our readers are more likely to attend college graduation ceremonies than high school ceremonies. And as the ceremonies get farther away, attendance decreases. Few people are willing to travel even 3 hours for siblings’ or nieces’/nephews’ pre-high-school graduation ceremonies. After middle school, parents, however, are equally likely to travel to see their children’s ceremonies as they are to witness them in their home towns.
We also asked our readers whether they live in a rural, urban, or suburban area. This had no relationship to their likelihood of attending graduation ceremonies.
Finally, we asked what part of the world respondents lived in. Interestingly, this did bear some relationship to their willingness to attend graduation ceremonies. Take a look at this chart of willingness to attend ceremonies requiring an overnight trip:
Overall, U.S. parents were significantly more likely to travel overnight to attend their children’s graduation ceremonies than parents in the rest of the world. This result also held true in particular for the specific cases of high school and college / university. But perhaps this result doesn’t reflect a non-U.S. aversion to graduation ceremonies, but to travel. If that were the case, we would see a different result when graduation ceremonies were in the same city and travel was not required. Here’s a chart showing those results:
Just as before, even when the ceremony is in the same city, non-U.S. parents are significantly less likely to attend their children’s graduation ceremonies. This result also held true in particular for the specific cases of pre school, college / university, and graduate school. Can you offer any explanation for this pattern? Do you have any other observations about graduation ceremonies? Let us know in the comments.