A graduate’s guide to getting through graduation day


Speaking as someone who has experienced the excitement of waking up on the Saturday morning of K-State’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies, a lot will be running through your mind on May 17 if you’re walking that stage in Bramlage Coliseum or McCain Auditorium.

After all, you’ve only been waiting for this moment of achievement for the past four years- more like three years, eight months and 24 days. But hey, who was counting?

Despite the things you’ll need to remember or hope will go right, at the end of the day, you’ll be walking away with a diploma in your hand and the skip of accomplishment in your step. So, here’s a brief and non-comprehensive list of tips and hints to help get you through your K-State graduation day.

Night Before
Lay out your gown and attire
You’ll want to wear something nice and you should. You will want to make sure you are comfortable and can walk in whatever shoes you’re planning to wear with your gown. Have things laid out ahead of time to avoid an early-morning rush.

Text out the plan to attendees
Here’s a hint: have your family and friends park closer to the road than the stadium in Bramlage’s parking lot. It’s a little more legwork, but you won’t be stuck in the parking lot for what feels like as long as the ceremony itself afterwards.

Charge your phone and camera
You’ll be really upset with yourself, not to mention bored, if the battery on whatever electronic entertainment you brought dies just as the opening speech is wrapping up.

Enjoy yourself, but not too much
You’ll probably have the urge to go out to Aggieville and celebrate your last night as an undergraduate the night before. Go ahead and indulge in that; everyone needs to celebrate their achievements.

But remember, it’s not just an achievement for you. It’s a special day for everyone who has helped you get to this point, too. Don’t ruin it for yourself or them by being hungover or falling asleep while waiting for your name to be called.

Morning Of
Give yourself time
No one but the arts and sciences graduates get to complain about their graduation time. Pure nerves and excitement about graduation will probably keep you up most of the night, so sleeping in is probably going to sound tempting. But, you will want to wake yourself up and get on the road before that graduation day traffic jams up Manhattan.

Send out reminder texts
Make sure the people you want to be in the audience are awake, and that they’ve coordinated where they’ll all be sitting and where you’ll meet up with them afterwards.

Eat breakfast
It’s going to be a long ceremony, and it’s going to take just as much time (if not more) to get out of the parking lot afterwards. You won’t have another chance to eat for a while if you don’t eat beforehand.

Get caffeine
Few things are more embarrassing than having a family member or friend get a photo of you asleep during the ceremony, dangerously close to drooling. Dodge that future story by loading up on your caffeine of choice. But, let’s be honest, you’ll probably fall asleep during the ceremony at least once anyway.

You don’t need to arrive early, but don’t toddle
They say be there at 7:30 a.m. to line up for the College of Arts and Sciences commencement, but nerves and excitement might make you feel tempted to get there closer to 6:50 or 7 a.m. Realize the notorious rumors about the arts and science ceremony always starting late are true. So you’re probably fine if you get there closer to 7:45 a.m., but be mindful of the traffic.

For all other colleges, I’m sorry but arts and sciences will probably cause your ceremony anyway. Your arrival time will probably be pushed back, too.

Have someone drop you off on the west side of Bramlage

It’s your day. Have someone drop you off so you don’t have to worry about parking or walking.

Find your family in the crowd as soon as possible
You’ll want to know what direction to look toward for pictures and where to look away from when you yawn.

Pay attention to the speakers
They’re trying to pass on some last little piece of wisdom before you close this chapter in your life. Do what we all know we didn’t do in our 100-level lecture classes and listen.

Write your name in phonetic spelling to ensure accuracy
Even if you think you have an easily pronounceable name, you don’t. Not today. So just in case the speaker gets easily tongue-tied, spell out how to sound out both your first and last name.

Text your friends and share the moment
Text, snap or poke your friends during the ceremony. Figure out where each other is sitting and wave. Send photos to your friends whose ceremonies are later in the day and wish them luck. It’s a big day for all of you, and you should experience it together.

Take it all in
Recognize how life-affirming this day is. Revel in the corniness of the ceremony’s formality and thinking it must have been how every ’90s sitcom child felt in their graduation episode. This is huge.

Go on and get the obligatory graduation photo
Take the photo with your diploma and your family and friends in front of Bill Snyder Family Stadium field. You’ll regret it when you see all of your friends’ photos later on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if you don’t.

Have a snack waiting for you in the car
Even if you had a big breakfast, you’ll be hungry and thirsty by this point. Have whoever you’re riding with make sure to bring you a little treat.

If you parked near the stadium, try not to get too frustrated
I tried to warn you earlier so that this exact moment wouldn’t happen, but parking closer to the street would have saved you from the grief that is Bramlage’s parking lot post-commencement ceremony. It’s a nightmare and it seems that people forget how to drive.

Don’t plan on eating out if you didn’t have a reservation
I’m not joking when I say this – there will be no wait times at any decent restaurant in Manhattan because they will be booked back-to-back all day with graduation parties. Manhattan residents are better left staying cooped up in their homes on Saturday, as are recent graduates and guests who didn’t call in a reservation weeks ahead of time.

Party like Prince
When who I will forever know as ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’ sang, “The sky was all purple, there were people runnin’ everywhere,” I swear he was talking about Aggieville on the night of graduation. It’s an incredible way to end this once-in-a-lifetime day, and you won’t be able to stop yourself from swelling with pride as you look around and think, “We did it.”

That’s it. Congratulations to all of you almost-graduates of K-State. Hopefully this guide will help make Saturday what it was meant to be – a happy ending to one of the best times of your life.

Erin Poppe is a graduate student in public administration. Please send comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.