Whether or not you’ll get to don a cap and gown and walk across a stage to get your diploma as an online student depends a great deal on which school you choose to attend. There are a variety of scenarios that can take place, but here are three of the most common.
You attend a traditional graduation ceremony. If you’ve finished an online program through a traditional brick-and-mortar college, then chances are pretty good that you’ll be able to enjoy some of the graduation ceremony festivities. Most colleges will extend invitations to their online students to show up at the physical campus to take part in graduation and all other campus activities that weekend. Online colleges with physical campuses often also offer commencement services as well, though they may draw in students from all over the world, many of whom may not be able to attend. For students who live close enough and want to make the journey, the classic graduation day experience is an option for online students.
You attend a virtual graduation ceremony. If you’ve attended a college that’s nearly entirely online or far from where you live, then your graduation day experience may be a bit different. Some schools, like Bryant & Stratton College, have begun offering virtual commencements. Beginning in 2010, the school asked students to join them in the online world of Second Life to receive their diplomas in digital cap and gown. Since that time, other schools have followed suit, including Florida State University and the University of Edinburgh both making use of the Second Life environment.
You don’t attend a ceremony but can still take part online. If you can’t journey to the campus of your online school, then you may still be able to see the speakers and the festivities from the day, at the very least. Large online schools like the University of Phoenix record and share their commencement ceremonies so that all students, even those who couldn’t travel to Phoenix, can take part.