Graduation: life changing or just another day?

Attending University can be one of the pinnacle moments in a person’s life. You’ve gone through three or more years of hard work, dedication, sleepless nights and a shit load of alcohol. But here you are, at the final hurdle of student life: Graduation.

Millennial London spoke to several undergraduates who’ve recently graduated about what it was really like for them. From lining up for their cap and gowns to finally walking across that dreaded platform as your name was being read out, carefully trying not to fall over and look like a total idiot. Must be easy right?

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Graduation Ceremony at Royal Festival Hall | Alex Clement 

You only really graduate once in a lifetime and it plays a huge part in our lives. We always have some sort of expectation when it comes to what really goes on at a graduation. What are the steps? And how can you picture it before it’s even happened?

“I thought it would be hot, stressful, long and I wouldn’t enjoy it that much” says Jack Leslie, who graduated with a BA in Journalism. “I had been to my sister’s graduation a few days prior, so I had a vague idea of what it’d be like”.

“I assumed it would be more traditional, with inspirational speeches and the whole cliché slow-motion cap toss after which I would feel like a liberated individual” says Laura Grable, a graduate in Public Relations and Advertising. “Although not far from the mark, the actual graduation experience did differ from the more glorified, poetic version I’d had in my head”.

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Jack Leslie with Journalism course leader Jim | Jack Leslie 

When it comes to the term graduation, its meaning differs amongst people. “It was the conclusion of this period of my life and my time at university. It’s basically the closing ceremony of your time there” Says Jack. “So I was just thinking of getting it over with”.

Amy Kelly, a recent graduate in Radio Production says “When I thought of graduation, the stereotypical American graduation comes to mind. The massive crowd of people, the mass of students standing around outside posing for photos, and then the throwing of the graduation cap. But when it came to reality it’s quite different”.

“Graduation was like saying, “I was here”, making a marker, moving onwards. The fact of the matter is, life doesn’t stop after graduation and become a chore, life begins. You have all this knowledge and these skills behind you (hopefully) which you can now apply to everyday life” says Laura.

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Zynab Sandhu | Zynab Sandhu

But what matters the most? After spending time thinking of what outfits to wear, how to get to the venue, what restaurants to eat in afterwards? It all boils down to experience and what would the graduates appreciate the most. After all, graduation is a right of passage for some people. So, what advice would they pass down to their fellow undergraduates who will be following in their footsteps?

Jack says to “Go in with a more upbeat attitude and make the most of seeing everyone”.

“Don’t panic” says Amy. “Don’t worry about what you or anyone else is wearing but feel comfortable in your own skin. Feel proud that you’ve finished university”.

Ioana Alazaroae, a recent graduate in Photography and Digital Imaging Technologies says “Don’t be so stressed over your guests being happy, it’s a day in which you’re celebrating something special so enjoy it”.

“Don’t get caught up in the context of the day” says Laura. “Graduation day is for you; it’s a celebration of your hard work. Breathe a sigh of relief and let yourself enjoy the moment. That moment goes by in a flash”.

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Ioana Alazaroae | Ioana Alazaroae 

Graduation takes a toll on anybody attending. The day is a whirlwind of friends, family and a lot (and we mean a lot) of clapping and concentration. But what one thing do these graduates love and appreciate the most? Jack says “Going up on the stage and hearing all my family cheering and shouting. I know it seems silly, but it was a little overwhelming after three years working so hard, to hear their cheers and support. Family is always going to be there for you”.

“When I had my cap and gown fitted beforehand, It felt like a very personal and symbolic moment, perhaps even more than the graduation itself” says Laura. “It’s not every day I have a stranger silently place a heavy cloth on my shoulders and an unusual hat on my head. It felt like I was being crowned, or getting into character before a play”.

Zynab Sandhu, another Journalism graduate says “The moment that I really loved was when we were taking pictures. It makes you feel proud that you’ve achieved something major in your life. Degrees are not easy to get. It marked the end of a chapter, moving on to the next one”.

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Laura Grable | Laura Grable 

So what can you expect from your university graduation? Happiness, feeling elevated and being proud of how far you’ve come. Or for it to all finally be over? No more exams, no more deadlines and no more 9am lectures which nobody ever turned up to.

So when it comes to that big day, don’t worry too much about the little things – what to wear, where you should eat afterwards or if your family are getting bored. None of that matters and it shouldn’t be part of the stress you’re already having to face.

Your graduation is exactly that, your graduation. Be proud that you’ve made it this far, all the hard work is out the way. You now have your whole life ahead but this is the part where you decide what to do next.

Graduation is your ticket into adulthood. A new chapter beings and the world is waiting, so what will you do?

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