Nearly graduates, congratulations. You are almost done escaping hell…as long as you don’t screw up the landing with this last set of finals. Don’t worry though; it’s finals for the toughest classes of your collegiate career.
Assuming you do pass — and why shouldn’t I assume this, you’re hypothetical as far as I’m concerned — you’re going to have to get through a commencement. Or, you’re smart and you get the diploma mailed to you and spend May 13 celebrating.
You’ve hopefully already gone to the bookstore and gotten your cap and gown. Realistically, maybe a third of you reading this just threw the magazine down, screamed an expletive and are scrambling toward the bookstore and ignoring the traffic signal to cross Highland.
If the bookstore is out, I suggest getting a purple tablecloth and making some modifications. It might end up being more of a poncho, but then you can use a sombrero instead of the weird square cap. LSU will love that (no they probably will, have fun on the front of those brochures for the next few years).
You might think you need a suit or a nice dress for your commencement. You can if you want to, but you can get the same effect with a good pair of shoes. That’s all anyone can see, after all.
If you’re a future graduate student, you can wear whatever want because they’ll probably be heading right back to the lab once they’re done with all this.
As for the commencement itself, congratulations — LSU doesn’t like these any more than you do. From personal experience, the event should be relatively quick. Unless your commencement is not taking place in the PMAC, I don’t know what arcane rituals take place in other locations.
The one thing no one will tell you is how the commencement goes down. It is probably the most useful piece of advice anyone can give you because usually, no one tells you anything. However, you get a preview, savvy DIG reader.
You get to the venue early, then spend 10 minutes trying to figure out where you’re actually supposed to be going.
Next, you stand in line and make awkward conversation with people that were in all of your 4000-level classes but never actually learned their names. They absolutely will know your name and be very excited to see you.
After the line begins to move, you will stop a few times and wonder why it’s taken what feels like 20 minutes to move 30 yards. In real life it’s been maybe 10 minutes, but that’s still way too long. What, did someone trip on someone else’s robe?
The answer is no, because it’s unlikely something that funny will happen. Oh there will be jokes. They won’t be as funny as this (that’s either a high bar or a speed bump).
Random tip: bring snacks that don’t make noise when you chew. Also, bring an extra water bottle. Someone’s gonna have cottonmouth, and you can smell who does.
Anyway, you’re finally sitting down and after another few minutes, the speeches begin. Everyone in the really fancy gowns on stage will be introduced, then there will be a short speech before the long speech.
The long speech will begin with a promise the speech will not be that long. This is a lie.
The speech will be filled with platitudes, jokes about grad students and serious moments telling you how you will change the world. The last part is a bit of an exaggeration for most of us, statistically speaking.
Finally, you get your diploma cover and the official green screen photo — don’t forget to move your tassel from one side to a different side!
Then you have to sit down and wait for whatever awkward social media thing the college cooked up. For me, it was cheap sunglasses and a selfie with the dean. It was fine.
Now that you’ve studied for your commencement, you have nothing to fear! Good luck finding a job if you aren’t in a STEM field. If you find something, let me know because I graduated in December and am still looking. Please help.