I graduated three years ago today. I am generally reminded of the day I graduated by the yearly Michael Jackson obituaries, as I have a sort of magic touch for killing celebrities on important days on my life. (One day I will tell you about how I killed Whitney Houston.)
I loved graduating. Loved it. The actual ceremony was a bit odd, but the feeling of pride and achievement gently wafting through the room was beautiful. Mum cried, and Dad looked a bit gruff and pleased that finally someone in the family had made it through university. There was a garden party, and then the graduation ball was the next day.
There was an article in the Guardian a few days ago – Can you afford to go to your own graduation? This just makes me sad.
I had a unique set of circumstances when it came to my graduation. I was still in town, tickets to graduation were free for me and for two family members, and the garden party was also free for me and my two guests. The medieval history department also put on a significantly more boozy party, still free. There was an academic uniform that was mandatory, which for me was black skirt/trousers, nude tights, black shoes and white shirt. What I didn't own, I picked up at Primark fairly cheaply. I had to pay for the gown and cape. Looking at this article, I have to admit that I find it shocking that people are charged to attend their own graduation – you pay that much in fees for a reason, surely?
If you can afford to go to graduation, I sincerely urge people to do so. It's a decision you'll regret, otherwise. “It's all about the parents!” some people moan. Well, fine – let your parents celebrate your achievement! You graduate at 21, 22 – you're big enough and ugly enough to tell your parents to get stuffed if they're insisting on things you don't want. Getting a degree, despite graduate worries, despite the loans, despite the guff you get from people like me, is one hell of an achievement. Celebrate your awesomeness and embrace the stupid traditions. Graduation is the pay off for all of the hard work, and if you're lucky, there's a really good party afterwards.
In St Andrews, you get hit on the head with John Knox's trousers. Other universities have their own mad traditions. Come on, that's an opportunity you only get the once.