That’s Not What “Matriculate” Means

We are approaching that time of year when many will turn to their pens or keyboards and compose a speech they plan to orate to wide eyed, fresh faced seniors who have no clue what awaits them in the world.

And these brilliant charges, drenched with official definitions according to Webster’s Dictionary, will seek to sound intelligent as the writer would have likely combed through a thesaurus to properly pontificate profound plans in order to inspire others on the dawn of their success.

And if there were a trusted resource for commencement addresses, they would probably list the following imaginary statistics:

12.5%      Of all speeches will be remembered

62.7%      Of all speeches will egregiously exceed an appropriate time limit

10.6%      Of all speeches will be plagiarized from other sources

88.9%      Of all speeches will use “matriculate” incorrectly

(Ha! I know what you’re thinking but the joke is on you, it isn’t supposed to equal up to 100%. Focus!)

Here’s the thing, speech writing person; the misuse of one word can derail your entire delivery.  I know that your whole life you’ve been to various graduations where you’ve heard people incorrectly use that word so much that you assumed it meant, “to go through.”

It does not mean that.

Nope, it doesn’t.

“Matriculate” or “matriculation” or “matriculated” does not mean, “to go through.”

I just…. I cannot stress this enough: if you use that word in any way other than its proper use, there are those of us in the audience that will be so obsessed with the fact that you used it incorrectly that we will miss everything else you say.

“That’s not my problem, word police!”

The insults are unnecessary and, um, yeah, it is! It is absolutely your problem. You, or your parents, or the government, just spent close to $90,000 on your education (yes that includes all those pizza runs) and you don’t know how to use the “m-word” the right way!

“Lay off me, grammar-Nazi!”

Hey! That’s a terrible and inappropriate use of that particular n-word word! Stop being lazy and start being aware of the words you put on PAPER!

Ok…let’s all just calm down. All this yelling isn’t going to help us solve this problem…

…and you guys know I’m all about helping.

Ma·tric·u·late(məˈtrikyəˌlāt): to be enrolled at a college or university.

Yes, that’s what it means. Yes, I’m sure. Yes, that’s what it has always meant.

Now, let’s use different forms of this word in a sentence that I’m ok with you stealing as long as you give me credit. (Danita LaShelle, uknowimwrite.com)

If you’re a senior in high school
“We don’t know what the future holds. Some of us are going to serve our country, some of us are undecided, and some of us will matriculate as undergraduates at our respective schools.”

If you’re a graduating senior at a college or university
“It feels like only yesterday we matriculated here, four or five years ago, thinking that we knew everything.”

If you’re a dean of a college or university department
“How amazing is it that those that matriculated with you as freshman aren’t here to celebrate with you on this momentous occasion.”

If you’re the president of a college or university
You should know better!

Do us all a favor and use this word appropriately…or not at all. Because if you use the word just because you think it makes you sound intelligent…. it don’t. (See what I did there? Because I said earlier that one simple word could derail your whole…see what I did?)

(Sigh)

You know I’m right.

-Danita LaShelle

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