When you’re required to wear a school-issued gown and cap to the commencement ceremony, stand out from the other students with festive nail art that shows off your school spirit.

By Chelsea Traber Burns
Updated April 12, 2017
Nigel Cox

You’ve made it through the long years of studying and tests, now it’s time to celebrate all of your successes. But what’s a graduation party without spirit fingers? Once you have your graduation dress picked out, experiment with graduation nail art—it's a great way to honor your achievements and the school you attended for four years. Though glitter is always a festive addition, adding a pattern in your school’s colors is a fun way to change it up. Get inspired by these ideas that involve everything from school colors to mascots and everything in between, then gather your girlfriends for a manicure party. (You may as well decorate the tops of your graduation caps while you're at it, too!)

Simply swap out these black and yellow stripes with your school colors. Then pick one color (your favorite of the two, perhaps) to paint an entire nail. Embellish the contrasting nail with your graduation year. If the words and the design seem too complicated, the bold colors will make enough of a statement.

This simple look is clean, but a little bit of sparkle is there to show you’re celebrating. Swipe on a clear base coat, then use gold glitter to draw a rim along the tip of each finger. Leave it like this or add your graduation year to one of the nails.

If you really want to go all out for commencement, try a different design on every finger like this graduate did. Choose a simple base color like white, or go with one of your school colors and then draw designs over it. Finish with a glitter pinky nail just for fun.

You worked really hard on all of those term papers and spent long hours practicing for track meets. Wear your accolades on your tips with this creative graduation nail art idea. The precision of this particular design may require a professional, but the impressive result would be well worth it.

This more understated look uses a single school color on several nails and then highlights two others digits with a pattern and school mascot. If drawing a mascot seems too intimidating (some are easier than others!), try your school’s initials or consider highlighting those two nails by flipping the colors instead.

This intricate work would require major precision—and probably some special nail tools. Keep all of the designs in the same school color theme for a more polished look that’s a bit easier to execute. Or, take this photo to the nail salon—your technician can use it as inspiration.

Take away the graduation cap and graduation year and you’d never know this simple look was for your commencement. Despite the variety of shades, the neutral palette means it will go with whatever outfit you buy for graduation. For something even more understated, stick to just one hue on all five nails.

Go all out glitter with this gold ensemble. Not a fan of gold? Try it in rose gold or silver instead. The good news is that glitter polish tends to be more durable, so this design won’t chip off before the ceremony ends. If a graduation cap seems too tricky, try your year or school’s initials instead.