Fall commencement ceremonies are something we all would appreciate. Autumn graduates, along with their families and friends, would still have the elation of finishing school. This would also give more than enough space for guests and open seats for the spring graduates.
When I took the emailed commencement survey, I was very disappointed to not even see this as an option. I could only choose between holding the ceremony the classic way, in front of the Oviatt Library, but it would greatly limit my amount of guests. Or I could choose to hold it on the North Field – which while green and big, does not have the most signature sight of my college. It would have been fantastic to have at least been given the option of a fall commencement. Instead, it was like picking the rock or the hard place.
The average time it takes to graduate has risen, along with the amount of students who finish in the fall. Some of us only need an extra semester to work out a dropped class or finish an internship. Yet these students, who all graduate with a bachelor’s degree, have to wait five to six months for their friends, family and school to celebrate with them.
My last day of my undergraduate studies will be Dec. 16. I will walk into my class, I will sit down and take my last final. I will cry and laugh and hug everyone around me. Then I will call all my friends and family. There will be a party. I will celebrate this life long achievement. But no one would have seen me walk.
The stroll across stage after graduation holds a strong symbolic meaning to many people. You don’t really graduate until you’ve put on the gown and hat, and been given permission to move the tassel from one side to the other. It is a chance for everyone to visualize your hard work, to see what you’ve accomplished, and your chance to thank them for their support.
Because I will graduate in the fall semester, I’ve missed my moment.
When May rolls around, the magic will be over. Hopefully I would have found a place in the workforce. Maybe I’ve moved across the country. It’s possible I’ve begun a grad school program. But I will have never walked.
I will have to put a hold on everything, fly back and invite guests. However, I may only be allowed to invite five to seven guests. So that gives me one ticket for my father, one for my mother, one for my boyfriend, one for my brother, another for his girlfriend and two for each of my grandparents. There, that is seven!
But wait…I have two sets of grandparents. Now I have to choose? Oh, but my best friend, who I’ve known since kindergarten, will be in town. So do I uninvite my brother’s girlfriend? What about the aunts, uncles and cousins? They’ve supported me through this; don’t they deserve to see me walk?
But I graduated six months ago. Do they still care? Do they want to travel, take time off work and book a hotel, to watch me grab a false diploma? I mean, the real one will be hanging on my wall by that time.
When we only offer a spring commencement ceremony, many who graduated in the fall feel left out. Not to mention their guests take up seats during the spring. If we gave the fall graduates a ceremony, more guests would be able to come. The experience will be timely and meaningful. Also, we live in Southern California, so I’m willing to bet the weather would be quite agreeable.
I will still walk in spring. My friends, family and professors have supported my journey for the last four and a half years and they deserve to see me cross that stage. In fact, my parents have given me no choice in the matter. I am just extremely saddened by the idea of having to exclude any of them. Not to mention the emotional strain of putting on the “just graduated” face and pretend it all seems new and exciting.
I hope when the day comes, it will still have some of the wonder. I hope I will be able to grasp that fantastic feeling of “I finally did it!” But the cold truth is by then it will already be long finished, and I’ll be surrounded by peers who really get to feel like CSUN shined on them.