Giving Compass' Take:

• The Atlantic reports on Smith College's unusual commencement tradition where students play musical chairs with their diplomas. 

• Folkloric rituals like these throughout the college trajectory can create a sense of purpose, comfort, and belonging for students. How can colleges help preserve their traditions?

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Smith College’s annual commencement ceremony begins like any other: Graduating seniors at the women’s liberal-arts college are called up one by one to collect their diploma from the president. Perhaps some students exchange a wink with the regalia-clad honorary-degree recipients nearby as they stride across a platform overlooking the dorms they’d for years called home; others may pause to flip their cap’s tassel while blowing a kiss to the sea of parents who have long awaited this milestone commemorating their daughter’s metamorphosis from undergraduate to alumna.

Except the moment, technically, hasn’t happened quite yet: The name, degree, and accolades printed inside each padded holder seldom belong to the woman who receives it. They very likely belong, rather, to one of her nearly 700 classmates.

So begins Smith’s more-than-a-century-old tradition, known as the Diploma Circle. Once the final name is called, the graduates proceed to a grassy area on campus where they, with the help of volunteer faculty marshals and students, convene into a handful of concentric circles. Each graduate then proceeds to pass diploma after diploma to the right, assembly-line style, exiting only when she receives the correct one.

Read the full article about unusual college graduation traditions by Alia Wong at The Atlantic.