By Staff Writer: Eliza Bengala
They parade us into the auditorium and make us sit down and stay quiet. We all watch anxiously as a man gets up onto the stage to speak. He begins by introducing himself, and then the real show begins. Different images pop up onto the projector behind him as he talks about every item in great detail, telling us why we just have to have them.
As we leave the auditorium, we’re given thick brochures that are jammed packed with advertisements for announcements, invitations, stickers, address labels, thank-you cards, pens, picture frames, scrapbooks, jewelry, and all other things that we “need”. That’s right, everyone. It’s senior year, and with senior year comes graduation.
Excited about the brochure we just received and the thoughts of being a senior, everyone, myself included, gather in the commons after the assembly and open the beautifully, enticingly designed brochures and begin pointing out the items that we want.
My friends around me get to the last page and place the brochures aside, but I’m not done looking at it yet. I pull out the papers in the pocket on the back page and shuffle through them until I find the dreaded page that has the prices of all of the items on it. Even though I know that graduation is expensive, I am still shocked when I see the prices. A cap and gown is $30. Okay, not too bad, until you add a memory tassel for an extra $12. Yeah, that’s about two stressful, anxiety-filled hours at my fast-food job for a tassel that I won’t ever where after graduation day.
My eyes move from the cap and gown packages to the other normal packages located in big boxes around the page. The cheapest basic package was $191.45, complete with everything you need for party invitations, and it even threw in some extra souvenirs. However, it didn’t include a cap and gown, the one thing that you actually need for graduation.
The next package, priced at $233, includes a “free” 2014 senior t-shirt, and doubles the amount of invitations but, once again, it lacks the necessary cap and gown.
The next two packages, priced at $249.95 and $371.65 respectively both include a free cap and gown, everything you need for party invitations, spirit wear, jewelry, photo albums, and portfolios.
Also listed on the page were the prices of items individually, including a few items not included in any of the packages, such as the memory album.
And let’s not forgot the completely separate book for the class rings, those “story-telling” mementos that range from about $260 to over $800.
I’ll be the first to admit that a memory tassel is nice to hang on the rear-view mirror of your car for a while, a class ring is fun to personalize and flaunt, and senior spirit wear and jewelry is nice to wear at school events. But in reality, after graduation, they will be stored away and never seen again. I’ve never seen an adult walking around with their high school ring on, nor have I seen a thirty-year-old tassel hanging in the rearview mirror of a car.
It may be hard to believe, but there’s an entire life after high school, full of careers, spouses, kids, traveling, and not to mention, college. So, while you’re complaining about the prices of textbooks in the book store, think of that tassel or envelope seal that you probably could have lived without.
Now, I understand that graduation is truly a big deal to a lot of people. Maybe you’re the first in your family to graduate, or, like me, overcame a lot of struggles throughout the past four years and just want to celebrate the fact that you got through it. However, there are a lot of cheaper ways to do it than spending over $300 on a premium graduation package.
The announcements are the easiest. Google ‘graduation announcements’ and there will be a list of websites that have templates to make your own announcements, or you can order custom-made announcements that are a lot cheaper than the ones advertised in the brochures we seniors were given.
As for the scrapbook, you can go out and buy any scrapbook from a craft store and put your own photos and memories into it. Not only will it be a lot cheaper (a blank scrapbook is about $12 at any store) but you can customize it to make it exactly your style instead of sticking with the generic styled memory album.
And envelope seals? What are we, too chicken to lick our own envelopes? Just put some hard candy in your mouth when you’re done sealing all of the envelopes to get the glue taste out. Doing this will save you $9.95, enough for a decent amount of gas for your car.
Graduation is fun. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time to celebrate what you’ve accomplished. But believe me, this isn’t the only hurdle you’ll ever jump over during your life. There’s really no need to buy a premium graduation package priced at over $370 when, in reality, you should be saving that money for college textbooks or gas for your car.