The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

Opinion: High school graduation loses value as profit-driven companies capitalize the experience

Class+rings+stand+out+as+a+popular+way+to+celebrate+graduation
Katelyn Morris
Class rings stand out as a popular way to celebrate graduation

High school graduation is being capitalized by large companies who aim to enrich the experience for graduating students.

When a high school senior walks across the stage to receive their diploma, they are filled with pride and look forward to new beginnings. Graduation marks an impressive milestone in a young person’s life, but the grip of large corporations on such an event often deflates the value of the experience.

Competitive companies like Jostens, Herff Jones and Balfour offer an expansive selection of products and memorabilia targeted specifically towards high schools. They offer products such as class rings, letterman jackets, yearbooks and more.

They advertise ease in shopping with their pre-customized products. “Shop my school” pages on websites encourage families to purchase spirit merchandise, and they offer discounted packages for buying more items.

These companies have created their own market by establishing a “senior standard.” Representatives are sent out to schools and meet with graduating students to discuss students’ options regarding class apparel, rings and other decorative memorabilia. 

Products are presented to students as a must have instead of as a luxury. They give students the choice of “which type” or “what color” instead of presenting the expensive products as an option to buy or not buy.

There is also a layer of peer pressure in the monopoly of graduation services. 

Senior Samantha Kruse felt some effects of peer pressure to purchase from Jostens. “I mean it just seemed normal to get a class ring. I didn’t really think twice about it since it’s what I have always seen and I just expected to get one too for my senior year,” she said.

Companies like Jostens have an even tighter grip on the schools that they supply. Renewable contracts make it easy for schools to continue using a trusted provider, and the limited market encourages schools to stick to a single company with lack of choice.

Class of 2023 graduate Phil Lin shared his view on graduation companies. “Using schools as a veil over its corruption, Jostens has proven to students that it will always place its own profits over helping students celebrate their well-earned achievements,” he said.

Pleasant Valley requires every senior walking at graduation to purchase an official cap and gown.

The Jostens PV web page lists many options for special packages. The “essential package” starts at a price of $268.15, while. the most basic required package is priced at $60 before tax. These packages put a price on the experience of a senior. With some package prices exceeding $300, the “senior standard” isn’t accessible for many, making graduation participation a financial burden.

“This monopoly capitalizes on student academic achievement by forcing graduates to purchase overpriced and often unwanted memorabilia,” said Lin.

The celebration of a senior’s accomplishments has turned toward adding items to an online shopping cart. Graduation should be a time for students to reflect on their achievements and look forward to the future, not a testament to capitalistic and profit-driven companies.

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About the Contributor
Katelyn Morris, Arts and Entertainment Editor, News Editor
Katelyn is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and is serving as the section editor of the Arts and Entertainment and News sections. Outside of school she enjoys theatre, art, and shopping. Katelyn loves spending way too much time away from home and never gets enough sleep. She plans on pursuing a degree in music education after high school.
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  • S

    StevenApr 3, 2024 at 9:35 am

    I agree with Phil Lin on his opinion of these companies are using student’s achievement’s to profit off of. The essential package is marked at a crazy price of $268. With these crazy prices for me I only bought the cap and gown. I didn’t feel the need to buy any of the extra stuff.

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  • L

    Luke ShamrellMar 24, 2024 at 2:18 pm

    I was lucky enough to get to recycle my older siblings cap and gown. I also looked at the other items Jostens was selling. I initially wanted to purchase some of them but I looked around a bit and saw how overpriced it was. I didn’t wind up buying anything. I feel the way Jostens and spending loads of money on graduation have become part of the experience at PV limits the celebration. There is a pressure from the school and Jostens to spend the money and if you don’t, you aren’t in the spirit of the school.

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