Your Graduation ceremony marks the end of years of hard graft. Blood, sweat and a lot of tears have gone into completing your degree. You’ve conquered countless deadlines, sleep deprivation, survived a sickening amount of alcohol consumption, and no doubt have unforgettable memories. Now it’s time to celebrate - you’ve ordered your robes, planned your outfit and your family are very, VERY excited. Chances are you’ve never attended a graduation ceremony, so we’ve put together a list of things that will inevitably happen:
1. You won’t know if you’re wearing the cap correctly
Cap and gown problems are real and despite someone dressing you in your robes, nothing will stay in the right place. Also known as a Mortarboard, your pesky cap will leave you paranoid throughout the day. It’s unlikely to fit your head properly so you’ll find yourself constantly re-adjusting it. Unfortunately, there’s no guide on how to wear it so find what works for you and own it. Tip: (for those with longer hair) bring lots of hair grips to hold it in place!
2. You won’t recognise a lot of students
It can be surprising to see how many other students studied your course and how many of them you have never seen before. Did they even go to lectures? Bring on the awkward small talk.
3. There will be speeches by people you’ve never heard of
Time to be congratulated by a stranger, told how fantastic your university is and politely laugh at some awful jokes. That being said, the guest speakers can be hugely entertaining depending on who they are (or incredibly dull - it’s 50/50).
4. Honorary degrees will be awarded
It’s difficult to find something that Kermit the Frog, Robert Mugabe and Jeremy Clarkson have in common, apart from the fact that they have all been awarded honorary degrees (note: Mugabe’s has since been revoked...). Honorary degrees are not only given to celebrities - although it can make the day more memorable if you graduated with Mike Tyson, for instance. It can also attract some controversy. This lady was not happy with Jeremy Clarkson:
5. Someone's name will be mispronounced
Basically, if you have an Irish name, good luck. Tip: If your name is often misread let the university know the pronunciation beforehand when you order your tickets.
6. Your hands will hurt from the continuous clapping
Be careful not to develop a repetitive strain injury.
7. You’ll worry about tripping over on stage
It’s a thing of nightmares, but there’s always one unlucky soul who will be known for the rest of their life as the “one who fell over at graduation”.
8. Strange formalities will leave you confused, but amused
It will begin with the grand entrance of the stage party. Who are they? (*checks program*) What do they do? Why are they dressed like town mayors? Another tradition is the way in which you accept your certificate, which varies between universities - some being more eccentric than others. Whilst for most a simple handshake will suffice, at some universities girls have to a curtsey and at the University of Exeter the Chancellor Floella Benjamin hugs graduates, it’s all very bizarre. Everyone clapping in sync as the (posh word alert) graduands leave the hall is also very funny.
9. You’ll be surrounded by emotional relatives
During the ceremony, you’ll notice many parents and relatives beaming with pride. There are multiple causes of such an emotional response including pure happiness, relief that you’ve actually got to the end of university and horror that you may soon be moving back home.
10. Everyone will throw their cap in the air…
...and attempt to catch it. The obligatory cap throwing graduation photo is not as easy as it looks. Be sure to practice beforehand or you could knock a former classmate unconscious with your disastrous Mortarboard throwing skills.
11. The evening will be spent drinking and reminiscing
Going for drinks with your uni friends for one last time (as students anyway) is a must. After all the free bubbly at the graduation reception, you’ll be up for a big night. This may be the point when you finally come to the realisation that your time at university has come to an end.