Most people don't know how special College of Charleston's graduation ceremony is for those who experience it because it is unlike any other undergraduate commencement ceremony.
All colleges have certain traditions that they hold dear, but I personally think that College of Charleston's is the most unique and iconic graduations. There are so many different details about the College interwoven into these sacred traditions that it is a truly emotive experience.
The College of Charleston is one of the oldest colleges in America, dating back to 1770 with so much history under each and every brick on campus. During the spring commencement ceremony, you can feel that prestige and tradition around you while sitting underneath the live oak trees draped with Spanish moss.
1. We wear white, not the traditional cap and gown.
Most colleges wear caps and gowns for their spring commencement, but we don't. All the men who are graduating wear white dinner jackets and all the women graduating wear white dresses. There is a long-standing tradition for a few reasons. One reason is that having an outdoor event in Charleston during the month of May, it's hot. So, to follow the fashion etiquette of being able to wear white after Easter, graduating students also get a break from the heat by wearing white to reflect the sunlight.
2. Our location is unique.
College of Charleston's most iconic feature is Randolph Hall and the Cistern yard with iron fences, live oak trees, Spanish moss, and a truly amazing historic building. It's been the face of the College and the most recognizable part of campus, as well as having the opportunity to star in several movies. Also, it has attributed to College of Charleston being named America's Most Beautiful College Campus. It's everyone's favorite place on campus to walk through and the best place to hold graduation. A large stage is placed right in front of Randolph Hall, creating a beautiful background for your friends and family to watch you walk across the Cistern. It's the College's most important rite of passage.
3. Roses are a big part of the ceremony.
Each woman carries a bouquet of roses and men wear rose boutonnieres for the commencement ceremony. I'm not quite sure the significance of it, but it creates for beautiful photos and just adds to the package of the white attire.
4. Porters Lodge
On our first day at the College, students walk underneath the arch at Porters Lodge into the Cistern Yard for a reception and to sign the class ledger, which will be added to the long list of names of the people who have attended the College of Charleston. The arch is inscribed with the words "Know Thyself" in Greek letters. At the end of our time and at the end of graduation, students exit the Cistern Yard by passing under the same arch, knowing who we are and our purpose as we step out into the world as graduates.
5. A Charleston Affair
ONLY THE BIGGEST PARTY OF THE YEAR. Every year it is held in the Cistern and encompasses the entire block of the heart of campus. It is a favorite campus tradition ever since it was first started. This night is only for graduating seniors and alumni to celebrate graduation while dressed to the nines. There is live music, an open bar, and so much food. The party lasts well into the night and most underclassmen walk by the iron fences dreaming about attending one day.
These are only a few of the traditions that are apart of the College of Charleston, but they are the most important. I've been waiting for my day in white and it's hitting me like a train. I can't believe I have been here for four years and my time is almost up. I'm so lucky to go to a college that has amazing traditions and such a beautiful ceremony. You better believe I'll be crying tears of joy and sadness as I walk under that sacred archway. These past four years have taught me so much and I can confidently say that without going to the College of Charleston, I wouldn't "Know Thyself."