Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Image from Wikipedia Commons.

You’ve made it. Almost. Or you aren’t even close yet or way past it, in which case, why are you even reading a blog post about graduation? Well, I’m just going to assume that you’re almost there, in which case, awesome. For the past eight months or so we’ve been getting hit with the full fevered brunt of what the kids call “Senioritis”, but the only cure is inching closer and closer: graduation! (And more cowbell.)

Brace yourself to leave behind the four years of banal monotony and confined hallways of high school, and prepare for four more years of slightly-less banal monotony and slightly-less confined hallways, split up by more parties, more hookups, more substances (like coffee, I don’t know what else you were thinking of), and more money taken out of your wallet and more loans from now until the day you die! Unless you’re cheap like me and decide to do community for two years. Or do something totally different all together, like going into a trade, the military, or dropping out and settling down in your parent’s basement as a McDonald’s cashier, in which case, all the power to you. We live in a democracy (apparently), and the American dream is full of limitless possibilities (that may vary with income).

But anyway, regardless of where you’re going or where you want to go in life beyond graduation, there’s a lot of ways you could celebrate finally being over and done (or almost done) with your lower education. A lot. But, if you don’t know where to start, here’s some hastily-cobbled together listicle to (hopefully) give you some ideas!

1. Party 

Do I even need to explain this one? It’s kind of an implicit staple with the whole celebration thing. Every teen movie ever in the known universe and multiverse has them. Andrew W.K.’s entire brand would cease to exist without them! No duh you’re gonna party for graduation, but according to the helpful, unbiased folks over at Jostens, there’s a proper etiquette for doing so. Apparently a precise two weeks (14 days on the dot) is the thorough rule of thumb for sending out invitations to your friends and family. I don’t know where they got those numbers from, but I’m sure one big corporation must know better than some one statistician or hack blogger, right?

Apparently the quintessential graduation party can be boiled down to two binary choices: the Open House, or, well, the Graduation Party. In their words the Open House is an “everyone’s invited” type of party where “people come and go as they please”, and Jostens means everyone. Your friends, your family, your dog, that raccoon that lives in your trashcan, that creepy unwashed middle aged bearded man with a receding hairline who hangs around your street corner from time to time, everyone. Graduation Party style Graduation Parties, on the other hand, apparently entail inviting a lot of people (but not everyone, really important distinction there), and making sure they’re close friends and family or their friends and family, or the friends and family of their friends and family. The site says to make it known where the hell you live and whether or not you’ll have food there (But come on, is it really a party without food?)

Write stuff like RSVP or Regrets Only on the invitation with your number so they’ll know to call and tell you whether or not they can go, and if you need help printing your invitations, look no further than Jostens Photo Invitations, because if a company says their own product is good, you know it’s good. If you want to save some cash for your grad party before the American higher education system picks it clean out your wallet, you could go about that in a lot of ways, like…

2. Saving Bread for Your Bread

The helpful people at Jostens suggest to consider co-hosting a party. If you’re gonna invite your close family’s close family or your close friend’s close friends or the raccoon that co-habilitates your trashcan over, you might as well figure out a way to divide the expenses, right? Hell, even celebrate your grad before your grad. If you want to go all out with caterers or rental halls, it’ll be way less of a pain to deal with them in May instead of June.  Or instead of a caterer, you could have your friends and family bring food. *Ingenious!* Or, instead of your family, you could always rely on Chick Fil A for catering, because for the price of 43.50, you can buy an aluminum tray with 120 pieces of the best-tasting dead chickens on Earth. Unless your party’s on Sunday or you have an allergy to peanut oil, in which case, well, too bad. Also, after your stomach’s are all full, be sure to use Jostens Photo Books to encapsulate and immortalize the past 18 years of your life! Because saving money is synonymous with wasting money on a company shamelessly self promoting their product somehow, I guess?

But, if you’re curious about how to save money beyond the party grad and into the post grad, well, you’ve got plenty of options. Apply for the FAFSA here yet if you haven’t already for free financial aid dough. Scope out sites like Fastweb, Unigo, or College Board’s site for a ridiculous plethora of more attainable aid. Put you and/or your neighborly raccoon’s garbage up for sale on E-Bay or Amazon. Or do something different entirely, seek out some weird niche stuff. Want to make a quick five bucks toward your education by doing normal things like screaming for 20 seconds or writing messages in spaghetti?  Give Fiverr a try. Want to make a potential $100-250 bucks for your education by coming up with creative names for companies? NamingForce is the place to go. Want to panhandle on the side of the road for your education with a cardboard sign and a cup of change? I mean you could, but I don’t see why you’d want to when there’s all those other options, and all these other options like…

3. Going Away (Seriously, Go Away)

Now that you’ve broken free from the shackles of imprisonment that are American high schools (and are three months away from entering the shackles of debt imprisonment that are American colleges), maybe consider capping your grad party off with an escape from it all. You’ve toiled through math equations and terrible novels for twelve long years, so why not devote at least a couple days to the trip of a lifetime? There’s a load of destinations you could travel to that won’t cost you a load of cash.

For instance, one of the world’s 2nd cheapest international destinations (as of a 2013 survey on TripAdvisor) is Hanoi, Vietnam. Airfare notwithstanding, your average nightly cost for a hotel, return taxi, dinner and cocktails for two rounds up to around $176.14. Aside from the off chance you’ll walk into a forgotten leftover Punji stick trap you can’t deny that the jungles are pretty scenic, and there’s plenty of intriguing historical sites worth checking out.

According to some other listicle  written by Ashley Mateo on Bustle, Nicaragua was one of the cheapest South American getaways, with some hostels costing as low as 30 bucks a night (as of 2014), but if you want to be a little more local, you could party at certain New Orleans hostels for only 20 a night. They might not be the best hostels, but who cares when you’ll be busy doing so much stuff outside of the place? Ireland and Portugal were slightly more expensive, averaging $75-80 a night, but those are around half the global average and some of the best affordable European travel experiences you can get. Even Las Vegas of all places is pretty damn cheap. The price of one night at a Hawaiian resort apparently equates price of three nights at a Vegas resort, so if you can resist blowing all your disposable income on the nearest roulette wheel or craps table, that’s a pretty decent deal.

Or find your own vacation spot. As the sage philosopher Nas once said, “the world is yours.” And hey, it might as well be soon. I’m graduating, you’re (presumably) graduating, and now’s as good as time as any to get away cause I can’t think of a good segue into ending this article because I’m a lazy hack, well, you’re graduating! (Hopefully.)

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