Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Thoughts on graduation

Although I go on and on, a good number of friends will in the next few months be graduating from university. Some will be returning, whether for further study or to work in one post or another, whilst others will be heading into the big wide world.

By a coincidence, today I obtained another comic for my collection, Amazing Spider-Man #185 which includes the story of his graduation ceremony. It is so true to the stereotype and reminds me just why I'm not the greatest fan of them at all.

Amazing Spider-Man #185The story contains the endless bureaucracy (made worse for Peter Parker as he finds he's not down on the lists and so goes in as an extra at the end, not even able to sit with his classmates). There's the incredibly boring ceremony in which a very boring speech is made by someone who has been of no direct importance to the graduands during their time at university. (The issue misses out the conferring of honorary degrees, but these help to prolong the ceremony as well.) Finally there is the endless procession of students to shake a hand and receive a piece of paper, along with a formal granting of the degree. The whole thing is meant to be a landmark celebrating the end of one's time in university but instead feels incredibly boring due to the sheer tedium of it. (Peter's is even worse as it's only at the end of the ceremony that he finds out that he won't be graduating just yet because he's one credit short due to having missed a gym class! Those not familiar with the US system may not appreciate just how many wild and minor courses a student has to take.)

I've been through two graduation ceremonies so far and neither of them was especially lively. Each seemed an extremely tedious experience and has made me strongly want to finish my university career by graduating for the final time by post. It makes no difference as to whether or not you have the degree as it's still formally conferred at the ceremony, though your name may not be read out. (At my MA ceremony there was one bizarre moment where there was only one person on a particular list who wasn't present and the Chancellor was formally asked to confer a degree upon "the person whose name is printed in the guide for this ceremony"!) In practice once you know your final result you can get on with applications, if you haven't started already. A party is a far better way to celebrate the end of your time at university than a long tedious ceremony.

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