Diplomas: An Essential and Exceptional Piece of Paper

Graduates holding diplomas take selfie

It is apropos that we receive a paper diploma when we graduate, considering how important paper is to our journey to graduation. After all, the diploma is the final, if not the most important, in a long line of paper in a students’ academic career. According to the Paper and Productive Learning: The Fourth Annual Back-to-School Report, the clear majority of students believe paper is essential to their education.

Throughout junior high and high school, 45 percent of students say they learn best writing on paper. And that continues after they receive their high school diploma. In college, 81 percent of students use paper materials to prepare for exams, 94 percent say paper is essential to helping them achieve their academic goals, and 85 percent of college educators encourage taking notes by hand.

And it is not just in preparing and studying, it also includes the extensive amount of reading students have. In a study Dr. Naomi S. Baron, professor of linguistics at American University, found that, of 400 university students from five countries, 92 percent said the reading platform on which they concentrated best on was print. Baron addressed this in her book, Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. Print, that is to say paper, is “tailor-made for helping us read continuously, concentrate, puzzle out concepts and contemplate the significance we have read.”

The diploma also has a sentimental value, holding memories. It also has a symbolic value, it is representative of all the hard work the graduate has put in and it represents the opening of new possibilities and freedom to forge a new path. The diploma, that single piece of paper, encapsulates the end of one stage of life and the beginning of a new one. Pretty impressive.

And like birth certificates, birthday cards and wedding invitations, the diploma marks another major milestone in our lives with paper. It shows us what we have been able to accomplish and promises us a whole new world of possibilities. And every diploma has significance, whether it be from kindergarten or for a PhD. And unlike digital, the paper diploma is a tangible symbol of your accomplishments and a constant source of validation.