So, it’s been three, four or five (or even seven, shout out to any architecture students reading this!) years. You’ve been through questionable choices in Freshers week, the unmatched high of student loan days, the unmatched low of spending your student loan in a week and living in poverty for the rest of the semester, you’ve survived exam month and felt the sheer glee of handing in your dissertation or last assignments, and now you’ve reached the last hurdle. Graduation.
Strangely enough, even though it’s what you’ve been working toward for ages, it just seems distant, and abstract. Or at least it did to me and my friends – if you’re more in charge of your future than us, I bow down to you.
Graduation is a really weird thing – a really important day, where you wear really weird clothes, it’s the last time you’ll see a whole lot of people you’ve just spent three years panicking about deadlines and exams with and your family come along to sit through a three hour ish long ceremony, of which they care about 3 seconds (the bit where your name gets called and you walk across stage…hopefully not falling over). My nan slept through my graduation, just fyi. It’s hard to prepare for, especially if no one you know has done it before and it’s not something you can practice (unless this is your post grad graduation, in which case you should be really good at it – why are you even reading this?!) With that in mine, here are the things I wish people had told me about graduation, ready to help make your day more chilled out than mine was.
1. Finding something to wear is a total nightmare. It had to go with the colour of your robe and hood – mine was navy which was a nightmare for my predilection to all things black, and it has to be the right shape for your gown to sit over it. Skater dresses, shoulder pads or any sort of big detail is a massive no go. If you’re a morning graduation it also needs to be something that’ll be comfy for a full day and maybe one or two meals. If you’re going out afterwards (I had an afternoon graduation, so I graduated, had a family meal and then headed on a night out to celebrate) you also have to consider that too.
2. Organising graduation day is a massive bloody nightmare. If your uni isn’t in your home town, you’ve already given up your house so you can’t offer people a place to stay, hotels will be expensive because it’s a busy time and if you’re not staying it a bloody round trip. Even if you’re graduating in your home town, the people who’ve moved away make it a nightmare to organise a meet up or a night out afterward.
3. Robes are super expensive. Mine cost £80 and I nearly passed out with shock when I found this out. Make sure you have the money ready to pay because if you have to order after the cut off point (which is decided by your university and the robe people they use!) it’s even more expensive. You need to keep your robes in good condition – if they’re damaged there will be a charge :( You could always just buy a set of robes to keep and then you wouldn’t have to worry about collecting them on the day or keeping them in good condition AND be able to feel like you’re in Hogwarts whenever you want….but they’re usually like £250, so maybe not.
4. Robes are one size fits all, so take safety pins to adjust them and make sure you don’t end up looking crumpled on all the pictures – there is NOTHING worse than looking back at a groupshot and seeing your hood is round your neck and your robe is hanging off one shoulder. The hats are also the worst part of university (yes, even worse than having a 9am lecture with a really enthusiastic tutor on no sleep and suffering the worlds WORST hangover) so make sure you take hair pins to clip them into place – even the boys! – and girls, if you’re wearing clip in hair extensions, get ready to shuffle them around your head so they don’t upset the hat. Not upsetting the hat is the ultimate goal of the day.5. Wear comfortable shoes. It is a very, very long day, and you have to walk across stage in front of a couple of thousand people. You do not want to be limping, walking funny to keep them from falling off or, worse case scenario, fall over on that stage, in front of all of those people. It’s just not a situation where you want to go for 6 inch heels or anything particularly out there. This is the one time I actually believe in the phrase ‘play it safe’.
6. It is an incredibly long day. Even if you’re an afternoon ceremony, so be prepared. Stay hydrated, take extra hair pins and stash plasters in your bag for when your attempt to follow #5 has failed. Take your phone charger, or a portable battery. It is a day of heavy phone usage and you do not want a dead iPhone at 3pm.7. Whatever night out you plan, whether it’s with uni friends to celebrate together, or other friends to celebrate you getting your degree, it will be enormously anticlimactic. Mainly for the reasons I mentioned in 6 – it’s a long day, you’re knackered and there might be travelling to be done. And even if none of those apply, graduations are usually on a weekday, outside of term time so there isn’t a whole lot open…it might be a better idea to plan a big night separate to graduation so you can really focus on enjoying yourself.
8. Take pictures. On a camera, for Instagram, horrible ones for Snapchat, it really doesn’t matter, just take as many photos as you can to remember the day. You only graduate once after all…unless you do a Masters, and that’s a whole other ball game!
I hope this helped you some of you guys out…good luck with graduation, and congratulatons!