Tradition or greed: Graduation products

Every year, seniors pay money towards graduation gear personalized for them. They can purchase things such as a cap and gown, tassels, and a class ring.

As these products for graduation become more and more expensive, the question becomes, “Is this tradition just a cash grab?”

Memorabilia in the form of class rings is not a new concept. In fact, the tradition has been alive for nearly two centuries, with 1835 being the year they debuted.

“The place was the United States Military Academy at West Point, Virginia. The need was felt by the administrators of the officer training school to hand out class rings as reminders of the values, ideals, and pride of having graduated from the most sought after school,” Daniel’s Jewelers’s website explained.

In the 21st century, though, class rings are more about the tradition than the core values they originally possessed. Class rings are a status symbol that in an environment like Hillcrest could cause some problems.

Hillcrest has a unique situation with its diverse student body.

According to, 42% of the students at Hillcrest come from low-income families. 

With this statistic in mind, it is not ideal for these companies to charge students so much to keep up with their peers.

Also, Hillcrest has multiple forms of swag, which, in keeping up with the Joneses, can put students further into financial hardship. While the swag does help the school, the money from the class rings does not.

A review of Hillcrest’s preferred memorabilia company, Jostens, shows that while a regular cap and gown with one tassel costs $39.95, the cheapest class ring is $217. 

For a small band of metal that can get lost easily and isn’t very cheap itself, there are cheaper ways to keep track of the high school experience. One of these methods is a journal. It is less expensive and is usually bigger, making it harder to lose it easily. 

While class rings themselves aren’t a harmful concept, for students who can’t pay for them due to their price, class rings are becoming more of a tradition with a lack of traction to keep it going forward.