Resources for Graduation Event Professionals

Difference between graduates and commencement participants

difference-between-graduate-and-commencement-participantIn the context of commencement ceremonies, the terms "graduates" and "participants" are often used interchangeably, but can have different meanings. And in discussions with your vendors and providers, clarifying which term is being used is key.



  • Graduates refers to the students who have completed the educational requirements for their degree (college or university-level) or their diploma (high school).  However, it does not imply those individuals will actually be in attendance at their institution's commencement ceremony.  For various reasons, there are almost always a percentage of graduates who are unable to attend or choose not to do so.
  • Participants refers to the graduates who are physically present at, and participate in, the commencement ceremony.

As a commencement coordinator, your preparations are based on the number of graduates expected to be in attendance (i.e. participants).  This is also the case when your photography company is making their own preparations for your event.

If you are a GradImages' client, we will ask for the estimated number of participants at your upcoming ceremony, with the understanding that the number of commencement participants will almost certainly be lower than the number of degrees or diplomas awarded.

Topics: Terminology Commencement Preparation GradImages