High School Graduation Is A Drag: This Is What To Expect

How Long Does A High School Graduation Usually Last?

After a long high school journey, you’re finally about to hold the diploma you have been working toward. While graduation ceremonies can be long, staff and administrators do their best to keep the program starting on time.

How long does a high school graduation usually last? While smaller schools usually finish in less than two hours, bigger ones tend to take at least three hours. The greatest factor in graduation duration is the number of graduates attending and the number of speakers invited.

Read this article to learn about the program’s stages, what they’re about, and how long it usually takes to finish. I will also include tips on how to flawlessly walk on the stage during one of the biggest events of your life.

The Ceremony

After four years of studying, students are recognized for their journey. High school is fun, but the pressure is there. A ceremony is held for the school to acknowledge the hard work of the students and their parents.

The graduation ceremony is also called “The Commencement Exercise”. The beginning ceremony is a crucial experience for learners, parents, and teachers, as well as a turning point. It’s time to honor their hard work and accomplishments with educators, parents, and teachers.

Students are proud that their state and local school boards have certified the graduation standards. The parents celebrate the accomplishments of their children, and their effort yields fruit for teachers and school officials.

Some graduations take up to four hours. Now, this is a nightmare. Schools are fond of inviting too many speakers who are unrelated to the school and the graduates. The speakers are there to “motivate” the graduates to do better and embrace their opportunities.

This sort of ceremony length makes everyone bored. The ideal length for graduation is less than two hours. Students are more excited to celebrate than to listen to speakers they don’t know.

But this is not the case at all times. The length of the ceremony will depend on several factors: the number of graduates, the number and length of speeches, and various activities.

The typical ceremony should be finished within 90 minutes to two hours. It gets longer when the school decides to add songs, prayers, readings, and the sort.

There is also a commencement speaker. He/she is not there to entertain or instruct the students. Rather, the commencement speaker aims to inspire the graduating class members

The Procession

The academic procession is a formal ritual in which university dignitaries march together wearing traditional academic garb.

The academic procession is a regular part of college and university commencement exercises. At certain U.S. colleges, regalia colors and designs are decided on by a standardized dress code.

The academic procession is made up of school administrators and members of the board. It takes about 15-20 minutes. All the graduates must stay standing before the whole academic procession, and the administrators take their seats. 

When the guest speaker has finished, the academic procession leaves and all graduates are invited to rise. Graduates will then leave for the reception to be hosted by their families and peers.

Welcome Address

The welcome address is usually given by a higher-ranked academic or the class salutatorian. This part of the event lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. It’s the usual greeting, thanks, and congrats.

Extra Speaker

Extra speakers are optional, but the usual length of this is no more than 10 minutes. Extra speakers are students, deans, or student award winners.

Presentation of Diplomas

Following the first speech and presentation of trophies, it’s time to get down to the main event. Shine the light on the person assigned to hand out the diplomas and shake each student’s hand.

This will be the longest part of the event, as well as the highlight: The graduands turn into graduates. Graduands walk the stage as their names are called, shake hands with the principal, get their picture taken, and walk to the other side of the stage.

This is the most awaited moment for the graduates. While the length of the diploma presentation will depend on the number of graduates attending, the usual length is 45-60 minutes.

Because this is the highlight of the event, here are some tips:

  • Walk across the stage when the speaker calls your name.

  • Shake the principal’s right hand.

  • Hold your diploma in your left hand.

  • Stop for a photo while shaking the principal’s hand (unless cultural or religious grounds prohibit you from doing so) and carrying your diploma.

  • Walk off the stage carefully.

  • Return to your seat and transfer your tassel to the other side to show that you are now a graduate!

  • Relive this moment by applying your stage shot to a canvas print or making a photo book of all your graduation memories.

Keynote Address

The keynote address is given by a distinguished person whose goal is to create a positive impact on the graduates. The length is anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes.

Valedictorian Address

Once everybody has received their diplomas, it’s time for the class valedictorian to make the most of the moment with an inspiring and uplifting speech.

The valedictorian will thank family and friends for attending the ceremony. He/she usually gives a heartfelt speech about his/her experience over the past four years. This takes about 15 minutes.

Other Speakers

Another speaker might share his/her experiences with the class. He/she also initiates the flipping of the tassel and tossing of the hats. This is optional and will take 5 to 10 minutes.


When the guest speaker is done, the academic procession leaves and all the graduates are asked to rise. The graduates will then depart from the ceremony to be embraced by their families and friends.

Now that the ceremony is over, you will take part in graduation parties and rejoice with your loved ones. From being showered with graduation presents to hearing about how proud your parents are, graduation day is one that you will never forget.

Graduation Tips

Because you have been waiting for this day for a very long time, and you don’t want to mess things up, I will give you some advice on how to behave on your big day!

Graduation Ceremony Basics

There is no greater appreciation of the accomplishments of a student than a high school graduation ceremony or commencement. Diplomas are “conferred” or given to graduating seniors.

Students are also included among the speakers chosen for this event. The valedictorian, i.e., the top academic student in the graduating class, generally talks.

Many schools limit attendance for space purposes. Check with your school to see if there are any restrictions on the number of people you can invite to the ceremony. If your school has room limitations and you have a question about whom to include, you can try these tips:

  1. Attend your graduation with your family and friends. Emphasize that although you want them at graduation, only a small number of guests are permitted for each class. Some students volunteer to give up their tickets so that someone else can attend.

  2. Consider inviting only one grandparent or aunt or uncle from each side.

  3. Come up with a fun idea, like drawing titles that will sound equal to everyone.

  4. Let anyone who does not participate know that they should attend the graduation party. To make them feel included, make sure to post your pictures and videos.

Etiquette for Graduation Ceremonies

Some schools accept vibrant and free-spirited graduation ceremonies. However, keep in mind the following tips before you bust out the beach balls and noisemakers:

  • What are your school’s traditions? It’s generally easier to swap whooping and hollering for cheers if graduation is a more formal and somber rite of passage.

  • The handing out of diplomas is a very organized and quick procedure in most schools. When you show pride for your graduate, make sure you’re not drowning out the recognition of someone else.

  • Life’s milestones deserve everyone’s full attention. Turn off your mobile phones and fight the temptation to text during the ceremony.

  • Remain in your seat so that everyone feels properly recognized until the last students receive their diplomas.

The Cap and Gown

When marching to “Pomp and Circumstance,” the standard attire is a graduation cap and gown. This tradition dates back to the earliest European universities.

How to wear your cap and gown:

  1. Wear the graduation cap flat on your head and parallel to the floor. The front point should be centered on your forehead.

  2. The gown should fall midway between your knees and ankles.

  3. Boys should remove their graduation caps during the graduation song and the National Anthem.

  4. Usually, tassels are worn on the right side and shifted to the left during the receiving of diplomas.

  5. You can decorate your caps and gowns with regalia such as stoles and honor cords. Decorations will depend on the tradition of your school.


High school graduations usually last anywhere between 90 to 120 minutes. A larger number of graduates means a longer ceremony. However, the length shouldn’t matter. This is the very last day of your high school life, so treasure and enjoy it.

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