Graduation is the award of a diploma or academic degree, or the ceremony that is sometimes associated with it, in which students become graduates. The date of graduation is often called graduation day. The graduation ceremony itself is also sometimes called: commencement, convocation or invocation. Usually the ceremony and name apply to university degrees (Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees). However, in the United States, completing mandatory schooling is also referred to as graduating, even though it is substantially below degree level. "Graduations" for elementary school and kindergartens, and even for passing from one school year to the next, have been a development of recent years. This has received criticism, being described as "just a way of celebrating mediocrity". In a graduation ceremony at the college and university level, the presiding officer or another authorized person formally confers degrees upon candidates, either individually or en masse, even though graduates may physically receive their diploma later at a smaller college or departmental ceremony. Ceremonies often include a procession of some of the academic staff and candidates and a valediction. The academic staff will usually wear an academic dress at the ceremony, as will the trustees (if applicable) and the degree candidates. Graduates can be referred to by their year of graduation. In some places, graduation parties celebrating graduation from school, college or university are popular. In a recent 2014 nationwide survey in the United States, $985 was the average amount spent on graduation parties. When a student graduates without attending the graduation ceremony, then it is called graduation in absentia.