Last December, on a freezing cold day and with a horrible cough, I walked across the stage at Bramlage Coliseum and received my diploma cover. It was a memorable day, but it could have been improved. Here are a few tips to make a lengthy graduation day a little smoother and a lot more enjoyable.
1. Ladies and gentlemen, as much as you’d like to flaunt the new pair of shoes you just bought, graduation is not a time for new, fancy footwear. You could be standing with your classmates for about an hour (or even more, if you arrive at the recommended time) before you get to sit down for the commencement ceremony, so you’ll want comfortable, reasonable shoes that you don’t mind spending some time in. If you absolutely have to wear a new pair, make sure you grab some Band-Aids before leaving the house. The last thing you want are blisters as you walk across the stage.
2. Don’t worry too much about your hair. Why not? Well, that fancy, ill-fitting cap will squish it. If you’re really concerned about how your hair will look, try on your cap first, see how much of your hair will actually show and style accordingly. If you are wearing any sort of cord, stole or tassel and have long hair, your hair will get hopelessly tangled in that as well.
3. Speaking of cords – if you’re wearing one, find out the correct way to wear it before the ceremony begins. You want to make sure it’s over the correct shoulder, pinned in the proper place, right-side-up – whatever the case may be, just make sure it’s done correctly. Most people don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. By the way, the tassel starts on the right and moves to the left after the ceremony.
4. Get the wrinkles out of your gown. You do not want to be the person wearing the gown with the original fold wrinkles still in it. The instructions say to hang the gown in the bathroom so the steam from the shower will work them out, but this isn’t an absolute guarantee. Either stick the gown in the bathroom several days before graduation or find someone knowledgeable in handling delicate fabrics with an iron.
5. Have a little cold? Don’t worry, you can still sneak in a Kleenex or a few cough drops. If you’re wearing pants, simply tuck in the aforementioned items in your pocket, but if you’re wearing a dress or skirt, a small over-the-shoulder bag is easily concealable under a graduation gown. A small purse is a great place to store your phone as well. Just make sure that your cell phone, whether it’s in your pocket or your purse, is completely turned off for the ceremony.
6. Don’t be nervous. You’re going to have to shake a few hands after your name is called and you walk across the stage, so make sure your hands aren’t all sweaty. Don’t worry that you’re going to trip or fall of the stage; that will only make it worse.
7. Prearrange a meeting place for friends and family. OK, the ceremony is over. Cue the massive rush out the doors. It’s a little overwhelming with everyone trying to find friends and loved once, so simply agree upon a landmark to meet up at after it’s all over. This is especially important since everyone looks pretty much the same in a cap and gown.
8. You probably think it’s a great idea to go out to eat after the ceremony is over. Well, that’s what everyone else thinks, too. The popular eating establishments will almost definitely be busy, so call ahead and see if you can place a reservation. If your favorite restaurants are busy, either be patient and wait in line, or try something new.
9. Take some pictures. Have your best friend, mom, dad or sibling take a few pictures of you and your loved ones. The professional photos that are snapped in a huge hurry during the ceremony aren’t necessarily the most flattering, so if you want to be sure that you’ll end up with at least a few shots with your eyes open, entrust your camera to a family member or friend.
10. Enjoy it. Don’t get stressed out. Unless you plan on coming back for another degree, this will probably be something you will only experience once. Don’t worry about every little detail of the day; you’ve already done all of the hard work and you deserve a little recognition.
Kaylea Pallister will attend graduate school in fall of 2012. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.