For most people, college is the final step in their formal education. While some do pursue additional schooling, majority enter the work-force (or try to, at least). Really, this is the last step in becoming a full adult. In the U.S., our K-12 education system and 4+ year university system puts most most college graduates in the 20-25 age range (with some exceptions). At this point, you can enjoy the full amenities of being an adult: drinking, renting cars, having your own apartment, etc. While this is liberating in many ways, it is also scary – almost as scary as that first day of kindergarten.
Speaking of which, there is one thing that interests me about graduation time – besides the fact that I still have 1 1/2 years on my sentence. As a college graduate, you get to design your cap and many people showcase their creativity through this endeavor. To me, this is the final arts and crafts project as you prepare to trade juice boxes for something a little stronger and crayons for pens to take notes during meetings. Winter graduation season is upon us and I’m loving every minute of it.
The beauty of graduation caps is how they speak to the personality of the graduate. College is the time of exploration, so there are many features that can be included on a graduation cap. One of these features can be the sorority (or fraternity) that you’re in.
In the above image, the graduate is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., which is abbreviated to Z Φ B and she has that on the cap. Also, her cap is shaded blue. The sorority’s colors are royal blue and white, so the cap’s color is another nod to the sorority. This is an important achievement for many college students because they put in the work to join something greater than themselves and want to showcase this; they include their sorority on their cap to reflect on the oath they have pledged to that organization.
College not only exposes one to the wonders of Greek Life, but it also raises one’s consciousness. At HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), this is especially true. Most HBCUs have environments of predominately Black students and this fosters self-awareness in Black students; you are surrounded by like-minded, intelligent people who come in 50 shades of brown. With that being said, the above grad caps speak to Black consciousness.
In the upper left, we see a reference to Martin, a notable Black television program. On the upper right and bottom left, we see epithets that reflect both the 60’s revolution and its resurgence in the 2000s. Finally, the bottom right has a Black girl with beautiful natural hair. At an HBCU, natural hair is more prominent because it is more accepted. Black girls raise their consciousness by rejecting hair that isn’t homegrown.
Of course, there are also those who embrace this as being that last step on the staircase from childhood to adulthood. On the above caps, there are nods to cartoons that characterized childhood for 90’s kids. As we get older, we have moments of nostalgia when we remember how much we laughed at Spongebob and all his suggestively homosexual antics (we were finally coming around on homosexuality being a normal thing); how Toy Story touched our hearts as Andy’s toys came to life; how Lilo taught us that “Ohana means family and family means that no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
Really, these grad caps are expressions of truths. It’s the final hurrah before we enter the adult world. It’s a letter to send to the world that you have made it, so you will celebrate it (rhyme intended). Here’s one creative grad cap with a thought-provoking message: