Resources for Graduation Event Professionals

Interesting Findings from a Recent Survey of Graduates

Like many companies, GradImages uses surveys to help gather meaningful insights from our customers. Being the largest commencement photography company in North America arguably gives us unprecedented access to the opinions and preferences of graduates and their families. While these surveys are meant to help us continuously improve our services, the information we gather is often interesting to our client commencement coordinators.

Over 16,500 people responded to a recent GradImages survey of graduates and their families. Today we’ll look at several highlights from that survey.

71% of students get commencement information by email


We asked: “Where did you get most of your information on the details of commencement?”

71% of respondents said email. While most institutions have web pages dedicated to commencement information, email appears to be a very effective way to get relevant ceremony details to graduates, or at the very least, directing them with links in the email to the appropriate resources online.



We asked: “What is an acceptable length for commencement?”

This has been a hot topic over the last few years, particularly at large universities. Over 76% of respondents indicated less than two hours was appropriate for commencement. (Keep in mind respondents answered this questions after having sat through a ceremony.) For additional information on this topic, be sure to check out our two-part series on ceremony length.



We asked: “What parts of commencement are important to you?”

This was a “check all that apply” question. 86% of respondents said being individually recognized, and hearing their name (or their loved one’s name) called over the public address system was important. This trounced all other ceremony elements by wide margins. The runner up in the category was ceremony speakers, which 44% of respondents said was important. 35% of respondents said good seating was important.

Other interesting findings from this survey:

  • 79% of respondents went to lunch or dinner with family and/or friends after the ceremony
  • 96% indicated it was important for the school to provide a professional photographer at commencement
  • 76% indicated that graduation is a “very important life achievement”
  • Of guests who drove from out-of-town for a commencement, 62% drove less than one hour. 23% drove between one and three hours. The remainder drove longer than three hours.
  • 75% of graduates who responded to the survey did not purchase graduation announcements.
  • Only 16% of respondents said that ceremony music was important to their overall commencement experience.

If you're a GradImages' client with questions about our surveys, please let your account manager or local field manager know.  We're happy to share any information that could help with your institution's events.