Over the past few weeks, as graduation got nearer and I have spoken to friends, acquaintances and colleagues about their respective graduations, their attitudes towards their own ceremonies were divided into two groups.
The overwhelming majority of people spoke glowingly, with many describing it as one of the best days of their lives. It was actually scary how many tiny details some people recalled, as though their ceremonies had only been yesterday. A small minority told a different story. A former student described his graduation as ‘the most overhyped experience of my life’. One of my lecturers here at Leicester admitted that he found his experiences of graduations to be difficult to get through. And my best friend, a Year 2 student, has similarly expressed his deep scepticism of graduation in general: ‘why would anybody go to so much trouble just to collect a piece of paper (the certificate)?’
I attended my graduation ceremony yesterday at De Montford Hall. As I expected, I found the whole day to be incredibly over-rated. Yet this was not a massive problem. After all, graduation is as much about the parents of graduates rather than the students themselves. An opportunity for mothers, fathers, guardians and other relatives to be proud of their ‘babies’!
Nevertheless, while I am glad it is over, I am simultaneously glad that I attended. Why? A few reasons:
- Had I not gone, I might have regretted it later in life. People often forget what they don’t experience more than what they do experience.
- Some of the ceremony was enjoyable: the music was quite good and Vice-Chancellor Paul Boyle gave an excellent opening speech.
- It was nice to speak to some of my favourite lecturers from the past few years outside of an official appointment or a teaching session.
- Seeing so many people dressed smartly yet comically is always fun!
But above all, my primary reflection from yesterday was an overwhelming sense of pride. Pride in myself for three years hard work, high achievement and emotional resilience to get through my degree. And immense pride in the University of Leicester: a university that simultaneously has a special history, a good national reputation and a desire to keep investing and improving. The organisation of both the overall day and the actual ceremony was flawless. It was a great way to virtually finish my time at the University of Leicester.
For any current or perspective university students, my overall verdict on graduation would be this: somewhat overrated but still worth doing. Grit your teeth and make your parents happy!
Good luck to all 2018 University of Leicester graduates.