Preparing for the commencement: what to wear, say and do
From uncomfortable family meetings to uncooperative clothing, there is loads that can go wrong during a commencement ceremony
Graduation ceremonies are a chance to introduce your family to your university life and you need the perfect
graduation dress for it.
I’ve usually imagined that my commencement ceremony will be like a small-scale version of my potential wedding day. The homework, the invites, the gifts – and above all, the outfit. The ensemble must perfectly complement the colours on the gown…
I am getting ahead of myself, I’ll acknowledge it: graduation is a Marmite subject.
Some of my fellow students can not see the importance in what they believe is as an outdated, lacklustre ceremony.
But there are those, such as myself, for whom commencement was a blindingly bright light at the end of a shadowy dissertation tunnel. It offered some relaxation during the months spent hidden away in the world by a towering heap of publications in the university library.
Graduations take place across the calendar, with several universities selecting for a winter service. But what advice do recent graduates have for those people who are preparing for their service this season?
Kate Corbett-Winder, who graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2008, thinks intros between your household and your buddies’ parents can get the day off to an excellent start.
For individuals who live far from home while learning, college can create two separate lives. On the one hand, the uni bubble, filled up with study and new friends, and then dwelling – where the fridge is constantly complete and where all your crucial email still goes. Merging both of these worlds could be a really special moment.
“Have a large lunch before parties,” suggests psychology graduate Jade Van Loo, 2-5, “because most probably you’ll be consuming from then on.” She tells me to let enthusiastic and proud parents to have their instant too – which means preparing for tons of embarrassing pictures.
Fleur Britten, author of Debrett’s Etiquette for Women, has some helpful guidance for a hard issue that can threaten to ruin many students’ commencements – separated parents.
“Inform both events the other will be present and depending on their existing relationship, possibly break up your post-graduation time fairly between them or arrange a joint meal.”
A wise blouse and skirt combo for women and a dark suit or tux for the boys appear to be the most common reply in the alumnae I inquired.
Even if you have strategies for fancy clothing, Anglia Ruskin grad Firoozeh Daraei, 24, warns “you do not need to invest your day aligning your gown.”
A shirt with a button to secure your graduation hood is a good idea, as is, Fleur advocates, taking brooches and some safety pins to fix your gown. She also guides students to select a top of a heavier fabric since gowns can be quite heavy – “or else you will locate your blouse trying to strangle you”.
The expense of commencements is another unnerving element of the ceremony. The total cost changes between colleges, but with gown hire, tickets and photography it can all amount into a fairly sizable sum – in my case, four tickets for gown hire and family members will set me back GBP144.
The day is special, but don’t strive to rise above your means.
Jim McClellan – who, as head of the BA Journalism class at the University of Westminster, is well practised at the graduation circuit – says have fun, and follow the others if you’re unsure what to do during the ceremony.
“Don’t wear too much as it is possible to overheat under your gown, curl up, participate and encourage your fellow classmates – and don’t try and high five the chancellor, I think someone attempted that 12 months and it all got very confusing.”
Despite all the musical arrangement, concerns and pressure there’s one key piece of guidance to remember. As Oxford grad Jaimin Allen, 27, states: “Enjoy it! It’s once in a lifetime. Only be sure you are searching sharp as these pictures will probably be on your parents and grand parents mantel piece and be respected by everyone else.”