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Second Life to host first college graduation

Ceremony for real life on-line students will take place in the virtual world. Avatars will don caps and gowns, and Second Life founder Philip Rosedale will speak to the class.

Bryant & Stratton College Second Life graduation
A slide from a Bryant & Stratton College gallery of the upcoming graduation ceremony at its virtual campus in Second Life. Bryant & Stratton College

It's the time of year for college graduations--students don caps and gowns, degrees are conferred, and commencement speakers stir graduating seniors' emotions--even in the virtual world.

Second Life on Wednesday is hosting the commencement ceremony for online students graduating from Bryant & Stratton College, and appropriately, Second Life founder Philip Rosedale will be the guest speaker.

"These graduates are pioneers, overcoming life's obstacles to pursue their educational goals through online education and start a new life," says Scott Traylor, director of admissions of the 150-year-old college. "It is particularly fitting and gratifying that they celebrate their achievement with Philip Rosedale, the man who pioneered a whole new virtual world through Second Life."

Bryant & Stratton College has chosen to offer its online curriculum through Second Life's education community. There, students can go to virtual campuses, attend conferences, and register for online classes. Hundreds of schools use Second Life, from K-12 to universities, including Harvard, Texas State, and Stanford. Study abroad is even possible, where students can virtually study in Asia, the Middle East, or Africa.

The college will bestow diplomas on Wednesday to about 40 graduates who have earned online degrees. Besides Rosedale's speech, the event will include a virtual procession for students dressed in their digital regalia.

Bryant & Stratton was initially a business institute and is now an accredited proprietary college with campuses in Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, and New York, according to its Web site. It offers both two-year and four-year degrees.