Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Buying into the hype

A few weeks ago a panoply of Jostens pamplets pushing graduation packages arrived in our mail box. Basic package (25 cards, envelopes and gold school seal stickers)? $125, not including shipping and handling. Curse you, Jostens. You've figured out how to completely monopolize the graduation playing field with your commencement cards and diploma frames and caps slash gowns, from high school all the way up to post-grad.

Anyway since we're in emergency saving mode $125 seemed a bit pricey for something most are going to admire for a few days under a fridge magnet till the date is committed to memory and the card is tossed. But...when it comes to these things I'm a sentimental sap. No, I'm not one of those scrapbookers who saves every piece of pocket lint and gum wrapper to chronicle our life's journey with in the pages of a Michael's scrapbook. I don't even own a scrapbook. But I do tuck away the important things in my life. Pictures, train tickets from Europe, the occasional movie stub. Somewhere in one of my unpacked boxes I have a couple old wedding invitations of mine; in some other box I have one of my parents' wedding invitations (pre-me as a wee zygote) that I found somewhere back at their house and just had to keep it.

Much in the same way I'd like to happen upon one of these grad invitations in the future, maybe in my 40s when we're moving to a nicer house and it falls from the pages of a book being packed away and I'll pick it up and remember what it was like "back then", when everything was easier and it was just the two of us and our biggest problem was worrying about 125 stupid little dollars.

Now I know we could save money and just make the grad announcements ourselves. We did that for our wedding invitations -- not to save money but more to get the exact look we envisioned, and those came out perfectly. Then I remembered how life felt like it was being slowly drained from me as I sat pressing the glue on our 120th wedding invitation three years ago:

I think the look on my face said it all.

Sure, they were better than any card shop samples I saw, but there was only so much pink and brown tagboard, rubber cement and ribbon tying that one girl (and guy) could handle. Plus, J's law school invitations come with this gold-embossed school seal on the front of each (ugh, would you listen to me? I've already fallen for their marketing):

I love how presidential and "lawyer-ey" they look, and well, that's just not something we can replicate. So even though I feel like we're being majorly ripped off I think it's worth it. Someday we'll look back on this time and be glad we didn't skimp on everything -- I hate living with regrets and, really, money comes and goes. Plus he's only going to graduate law school once, and the fact that he's come this far in his life -- when the odds were stacked against him -- makes me very, very proud. His ambition alone deserves that pricey gold-embossed stamp.

On a side note, did/do any of you feel ripped off by the entire graduation industry? Granted, it's not as exploitative as the wedding industry, but still...

8 comments:

Mrs. Micah said...

The thing that really gets me (and it's something we're going to have to think about when Micah graduates with his PhD) is the academic gown industry. Gowns can run $800 and professors have to wear them for various ceremonial occasions. But it's not like back in the day when people actually taught in them & they were a practical investment. Now it's just a beginning/end of the year thing.

Maybe I should start saving now. *sigh*

Sunflowers said...

I bought law school announcements as well... I thought it was worth it. :) Other than that, I haven't had to pay for any graduation expenses, so haven't felt ripped off. I guess I will be buying a diploma frame... those are crazy expensive...

Lauren said...

At GWU, we just had our "commencement fair", which should've been called the "commence giving your entire checkbook to the university fair". One 25 pack of graduation announcements, cap/gown and diploma frame later, I am $400 more poor. No, $500. I forgot about the $100 "graduation fee" they charged me. It's crazy--you pay obscene amounts for a good education and then they want even more just so you can spend 2 seconds walking across a stage. I feel your pain!

Crystal said...

Ah yes, the graduation diploma frame. That's a whole other beast we've been setting money aside for. The cap and gown wasn't too bad, but that was only because it was a rental (a $75 rental, I should point out). But Mrs. Micah, I feel your pain. $800? Ouch.

And what is this $100 graduation fee? That's ridiculous! It's not like the tuition alone was exorbitant enough. :P

AuntBT said...

My graduation fee was $150! Our two that dominate are Herff Jones or Balfour, and they are ridiculously expensive! I opted out of graduation annoucements for my MBA, but I think that is more of me just being lazy and refusing to spend any more money. I also opted to go to a Michael's like store and get my frames done myself. Cost me a total of $70 bucks for MBA and BBA. Unless you're totally in love with the diploma from the school, I'd do it yourself!

Sunflowers said...

Sounds like I got lucky... no graduation fee and the school foots the bill for the cap and gown!

lawschoolwife said...

Confession: I am a scrapbooker. Big time. Don't tell.

But yes, the graduation industry is out of control. I probably spent $200 on my undergrad cap/gown/stationery. Did anyone send me gifts? No. (But that's probably because they sent me wedding gifts three weeks later). Still, I do cherish (gah, being a scrapbooker) all of the crap I have left over to glue onto my ridiculously cute paper I bought today at Hobby Lobby.

And we're totally saving up for the diploma frames. The one I want is $90. I'll let you know how it looks on my wall when I'm 40.

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

UGH. We're just finishing up 1L so I hadn't even THOUGHT about graduation yet. I'm making Husband walk in the ceremony because he didn't do it for undergrad but man that's going to be fun paying for the invites and gown and diploma case. Wow.

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