There’s a lot of events that take place on campus over the time that someone is a student: freshers week, Student Union elections, Christmas. Graduations though can be a fairly unique experience.
After in person graduations had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduations are back on campus and are split over two weeks. Those who were supposed to graduate in either 2020 or 2021 will have graduated last week in person. Whilst those who are scheduled to graduate this academic year, graduate this week.
On the day of graduation, there’s definitely an excitement of what’s to come. The journey that you take to campus, which is familiar to you and has been for the duration of your studies can suddenly be filled with memories. These memories become more vivid as you recall that this is potentially your last time embarking on this journey as a student at the university. The landmarks that you have passed by during your time as a student when attending a society social event, the roads you have taken to try and make it to campus before the lecture started, all add to creating an atmosphere on your graduation day which is about recognition of progress and achievement.
Even with the associated traffic delays as you try not to miss your ceremony, or the checking of a weather forecast because of fears of bad weather on your graduation day, it is hard to escape the sense of anticipation that surrounds a graduation day. It is a special day and each graduate will have their own way that they wish to mark the day with your fellow graduates and friends.
As someone who graduated virtually last year and who returned to campus last week to do so in person, the buzz of an in person graduation ceremony is definitely memorable.
Being able to attend the graduation ceremony in your graduation gown which is specific to your degree level, cross the stage at the same time as your course mates and hear your name read out alongside your degree for the first time is a feeling which is hard to put into words.
That is perhaps not surprising at all, as it is arguably the day that students look forward to the most and something that is deeply personal to them. It could be the day you may think of when struggling to write words in an essay or when attempting to motivate yourself to spend more time in the library on campus. As I came to realise the week before I was due to graduate, it’s also the one question that students can answer differently each time they are asked. My previous answer of my in person graduation being delayed due to the pandemic, now shifted to a simple “I graduate today”.
However, having had to postpone the ceremonies due to the pandemic, and with acknowledgement that not all students can attend their graduation day due to a whole range of different circumstances, the ceremony becomes more meaningful and significant.
Although it may be the end of a degree qualification, graduation is an opportunity to look back, as well as looking forward to the future. An opportunity to reflect on your personal growth, development and how you have grown over your time as a student. Amongst all these feelings of reflection, there is still a feeling of excitement and optimism about what the future holds now you have your well deserved and long awaited degree qualification.
This is perhaps best reflected by the placement of opportunity alongside memories. Notably that alongside opportunities to purchase graduation memorabilia , there are opportunities to engage with the career service as you look to put your learning into practice and utilise your new qualification.
From the food to the photos, there’s a lot to take in. It is important to note though that despite the graduation ceremony schedules and proposed timetables, there are also opportunities that will appear throughout the day that you least expect. This may be because your course size is large and therefore it is difficult to arrange to meet everyone at the one time to catch up.
Congratulations to all the fellow graduates, this is your moment. You’ve made a lot of progress and now you have your degree. Good luck in your future careers and bleed green!
Feature image credit: University of Stirling.