Today, my mother and I decided to ride down memory lane & look at some old family photos. We do this periodically just to reminisce. We saw graduation photos from several relatives, including my own. I was nervous and excited each time. As we were thinking back to those days, we began discussing my 1st college graduation. Of all the graduations that I have attended, this college graduation was the worst I have ever experienced in my life. I received my Associates Degree in Art from Wright College. I had been jumping around so much that it took me quite a bit of time to STOP and THINK of each step I wanted to take before getting the grand prize: a Bachelors Degree. So, I went back to Wright College and took the last course I needed to get my Associates. Since Wright only has 1 graduation a year, I had to wait until the following year to cross the stage. When you graduate, it’s a rite of passage. You are in a state of transition, so this day was extremely important to me. Every graduating student found out that ALL Chicago city colleges were graduating together in ONE ceremony. (I believe there was 700 students graduating that year.)
We had to get there by 5pm because the ceremony started at 630p and they wanted to make sure everyone checked-in. We stood in lines for over an hour with mediocre communication. We asked “where were we supposed to stand?” and too many people didn’t know. We were left in a state of confusion on a day that was supposed to be joyous. After standing in heels for over an hour (in the parking garage of the Pavilion), we were finally led into the auditorium at 630p and we didn’t leave until after 1030p. Now, lets take into account that this was a mid-week graduation. So, there was no consideration for those of us that had to work the next day including our loved ones that came to cheer us on. So many of us were complaining that day that some of us even contemplated leaving even as we sat through the speakers. By the time they called my name, it was 945p. At that time more than 1/2 of the audience had left. You know at graduations they ask that you not leave until the ceremony is over; do not applaud so all names can be heard. Really?
Graduations are supposed to be fun-filled, joyous, and a celebration of achievement. That day, I felt slighted. I wanted to go to dinner that night and celebrate a huge accomplishment. It was taken away from me. The people that manage the logistics of these celebrations need to take into account the people that are being honored or applauded. Would you want to be there for almost 6 hours? Was the decision you made worth it? Why couldn’t each college host their own graduation? My sister graduated from Wright College and was able to partake in the simplistic nature of the campus ceremony. At times, we get tired of the speakers and the message that they want to convey. How was that ok to do that to us? Do you know how much more appreciative we would have been if it was more individualized? It would’ve felt like you understood the importance of this day. It felt more like it was for the decision makers and their bottom line than for the graduates.
There are complaints every year at graduations. The #1 complaint is “it was too long”. I wish a survey had circulated on our thoughts of the ceremonial changes. I would’ve riddled my survey with absolute disgust. By comparison, a year later I graduated from Kaplan University with my Bachelors in Business Administration with over 1000 other students in 3 hours. It is possible to get it done and done right.
Preparations need to start sooner than a few months prior. If you need ideas, by all means, I am available for consultation.