com·mence·ment (k-mnsmnt)n.
1. A beginning; a start.
a. A ceremony at which academic degrees or diplomas are conferred.
b. The day on which such a ceremony occurs.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Yesterday was the third day of the commencement fair here at my store. It is an event that kicks off the graduation season where students can pick up their caps and gowns, order a ring, get a diploma frame, and pick up their commencement tickets. Being that the third day was the last day for students to do all of these things in one centralized location it was a bit busy and I was called over to help out during the afternoon.

I worked the tables a little bit and as the line built up at the registers I went over to help ringing up the students who were purchasing caps and gowns. I ring a few customers up and answer some questions. I call the next customer down to my register and greet him, ask him if he found everything he was looking for, and if he has any additional questions. He does have another question, and he asks me what the people at the table behind me were doing...

"That is where you pick up your commencement tickets"

The student honestly, with a straight face responds, "what's commencement?"

I try to keep a straight face as I kindly respond, "commencement is your graduation ceremony, you pick up tickets for it right there"

"Oh, cool thanks"

I have a line of students, but I just want to scream, "YOU ARE GRADUATING, HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT COMMENCEMENT IS!" I am honestly amazed that this man could be finishing college and not know the meaning of commencement, he is attending a commencement ceremony yet he doesn't know what he is attending.

It really makes me question the current state of higher education.

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