Hey: Should You Go to Your Graduation Ceremony?

Running the pros (your mum, sobbing with pride) versus the cons (stupid dickhead hat)

by Rosie Hewitson
20 July 2018, 10:50am

(Photo via Flickr/Jodie C)

You did it. You lived in the library for two months, answered endless practise questions while the rest of the UK enjoyed back-to-back Bank Holidays drinking endless tinnies in the park as you mainlined Pepsi Max to stay up late all night. Then you spent two acutely stressful weeks sat in a sports hall failing to calculate the molar concentration of a hydrochloric acid solution or trying to remember the key dates of the American Civil War, and another agonising month waiting to find out that yes, yes, you did it: you got your precious 2:1.

Now it’s your first summer of true freedom since you started primary school. And while your richer uni friends are doing some sort of life-affirming road trip around South America, you’re spending it increasing your maximum distance on Tinder, doing double weekend shifts in a sticky-carpeted chain pub and lying on the sofa with the curtains shut, sort of half-watching Homes Under The Hammer while filling in the ‘Personal Details’ section of a job application that you already know you can’t be arsed to finish before the deadline. Adult! Sadly, hell looms. Your university keeps sending you letters referring to you as a ‘graduand’, a word you’ve only recently learned and which you will never hear again in a few weeks’ time once they finally get round to sending your fancy little certificate in the post. But first there’s the whole ‘graduation ceremony’ to get through. Listen: should you actually bother to go to it though? Or should you just sack it off and work a double-shift? Let’s weigh up the pros and cons, shall we?

Pro: Everyone will be there

Everyone! All those people on your course that you aren’t really close enough to stay in touch with but who you always thought were really sound. Realistically, this is probably the last time you're ever going to see a lot of these people until somebody gets married and you have to lie to them all in a marquee about how well your career is going. Make sure you get some nice pictures for posterity because next time you’re all together you will have put on two stone and found your first grey hair.

Con: It costs how much?

About £40 a ticket for a glass of warm prosecco, a couple of vol-au-vents and some person you've never heard of shaking your hand and giving you a piece of pipe with a ribbon on it, which you're supposed to pretend is your degree scroll. Nine grand a year, you paid. Nine thousand pounds sterling, per annum, and there isn’t even a minor celebrity in sight. The Law graduates got Amal Clooney, but no, you did a History of Art degree, so here’s some random bloke who graduated from your course 30 years ago and now does something vaguely important at HMRC, giving a meandering speech about how you can be anything you want to be, by way of an anecdote about the tax classification of Jaffa Cakes (not even joking, this literally happened at my graduation, it was wild).

Pro: Fancy dinner

You spent the last of your student loan weeks ago and you’re currently right in the middle of your postgraduate delirium, incapable of waking up before midday or doing anything more strenuous than deciding which Netflix series to watch next. The most sophisticated meal you’ve eaten in the last month is a fish finger sandwich. If you go to your graduation ceremony your parents are basically contractually obliged to pay for at least one fancy meal. We’re not just talking pub lunch here. I’m not talking about a Zizzi with the Tesco vouchers. We’re talking two sets of cutlery and one of those special wine bucket stands. You didn’t sleep for three full days finishing your dissertation, and you sure as hell deserve to eat some French cuisine about it now. Order a starter and a dessert, because your dad’s paying and he’s not allowed to pull a face about it. This is genuinely the last time that will happen in your life.

Con: Entertaining your whole family

If you do decide to go, all four members of your family will be staying with you for two full days! You know exactly how this will go. Your dad will almost have an aneurysm trying to find a parking space near your student flat, and the second they’ve all piled into your cramped little kitchen your mum will embark on a house inspection with all the eagerness of an estate agent trying to find a reason not to give you your deposit back, grimacing as she sweeps a finger across the windowsill in your bedroom, retching theatrically as she retrieves a bag of salad that’s gone a bit liquidy from the back of the fridge.

Then you’ll have to take them out for a day of ‘sightseeing’ round your uni town. It will take them half an hour to buy four bus passes and another 45 minutes to find an ATM. Massive argument when your brother refuses to smile for a photo, and another about where to go for lunch, then after eight hours traipsing round various underwhelming art galleries, you’ll miss the last train and end up getting two buses back to yours in stony silence, where there’ll be a whole thing with a blow-up mattress. (At one point, mid-afternoon, your mum will turn to you and, in a soft, disappointed voice, say: “You lived like this?”). All in all, it’ll prove more stressful than any of your exams, even the one where you accidentally renamed every single character in The Tempest. Absolutely not worth it mate.

Pro: You get to meet all your uni friends' parents

There’s honestly just something deeply hilarious about meeting the parents of people who you’ve spent three years taking classes with. It’s like a sneak preview of what they’ll be look like in 30 years. Fit dads! Emotionally detached mums! And you’ll finally understand why that weird kid is... like that.

Con: What if you fall over on stage though

Yeah, you’ve probably done more embarrassing things over the course of your degree (there was that time you opened your laptop in a lecture and it was still playing that video, you know, the one that definitely wasn’t porn but really, really sounded like porn to everyone else). But this sort of feels like the most mortifying thing that could happen to you in your whole life, and it’s more than likely that somebody will capture it on video. Probably best to give the whole thing a miss, just in case.

Pro: It’s an excuse for a massive piss-up

The ceremony bit starts at 10AM which means you’ll be drinking wine in front of a nice skyline in some sort of fancy reception by 11.30AM, like a massive boss. Plus this will be the last time it’s ever socially acceptable for you to do a student night. Are you really gonna pass up your last ever opportunity to go to a £2 entry Britpop night and sink four snakebites and a couple of Jägerbombs for under 15 quid before doing a big purple chunder in an alleyway and getting some cheesy chips for the bus home? No, you’re not. I know you’re better than this now! We all are! But you need to. For closure.

Con: The outfit

Nobody has ever not looked like a twat in ‘academic dress’. Essentially you’ve just dropped £50 to spend two hours looking like a Harry Potter extra in an outfit that makes you sweat every single drop of moisture out of your body within five minutes of putting it on. And obviously you’re going to have to get on of those terrible portraits taken and it will live on your parents' mantelpiece for the next thirty years as an upsetting reminder of the fact that you didn't properly learn how to do your eyebrows until the age of 23.

So are you going then?

Tough one to be honest, but we both know your mum will disown you if you deny her the opportunity to wear a posh hat and post ‘SO proud of my son graduating from Leeds Uni with a 2:1 in Philosophy! Don’t know where he gets the brains from definitiely [sic] isn’t ME!!! - feeling proud’ for 37 likes and three identical comments from a woman called Julie, so it’s not really up to you anyway is it.