From gowns to grandparents: a guide to surviving your graduation


By Leah Martindale, Film & TV Editor

Take it from me: graduation will come and go in the blink of an eye. You’ll take regrettable photos, spend a long time sitting around, and suddenly have a degree in a tote bag and a cute postcard from an old person for your troubles. It’s eventful. With that in mind, here is my foolproof guide to making you less of a fool on graduation.

  1. Plan your day properly

Get everything in order in good time - particularly getting your professional photos done early. It doesn’t matter if you think you don’t have time, or you’re worried you’ll bloat - you won’t - or you’ll feel sick. Eat before graduation. Do not make the mistake I made of graduating on an empty stomach - bar two Valiums, banging the champagne reception for six hours, and then taking my professional photos officially funked up. Not only did I ask for a background of the Eiffel Tower or the Vegas Strip, but when the photographer informed me he had neither maracas nor a feather boa, I told him it was the worst photo-booth I’d ever been in.

Take it from me, don't get hammered before your pictures | Epigram / Leah Martindale

2. Don’t forget your guests

Yes, it’s your big day, but I guarantee your mum, dad, and Nanna Linda don’t want to stand around watching your mates make Boomerangs for half an hour. Much like a beloved pet, or a baby, families need to be distracted with shiny things and snacks throughout the day or they will get cranky.

3. Keep in contact

If you’ve ever been to the Royal Mile on the first day of the Fringe, you’ll know how genuinely stupid crowds can be. Bystanders will descend on the Wills building like locusts in a biblical plague, and if you don’t set a meeting spot - not the Wills lawn, Einstein - you can lose your friends within seconds. It’s horrible to think, but this could be the last day you’ll see some people, and your friends will vanish into crowds or slip out of champagne receptions like smoke through your fingers. If you see someone you want to talk to, don’t think you’ll see them later, because you might not. Give them a hug, get a picture, and celebrate your time together!

Graduation is about remembering the good times with your friends | Epigram / Unsplash

4. Entertain yourself

People don’t tell you this, but graduation ceremonies are really long and, at times, bloody boring. You get into the Great Hall what feels like years before anything happens, then you sit and watch some old people in big cloaks you don’t know bring loads of old cutlery in on sticks, then you spend literally an hour clapping for people you’ve never seen in your life. When you line up with your friends, fix your gowns, and hear your name called it’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s nerve-wracking! When you sit still for over an hour, roasting hot in a massive gown… less so.

Enjoy yourself! At the end of the day, you may get another degree, this may not be your only graduation ceremony, this may not be your only bachelors degree… but in this place, with these people, after the trials and the tribulations you’ve been through? This is your only chance to have it.

5. Wear what you want!

No one is judging you, no one cares if you think your hair is messy or your shoes don’t bang with the outfit. Laugh loudly and cheer for your friends! Be confident and proud in your achievements. Dance with your friends, hug your lecturers - with their consent, of course - be bold and brave and have banter. This is your day, don’t forget it.

Featured: Epigram | Leah Martindale, M.D. Duran

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Leah Martindale

Part-time Film & Television MA student; full-time Instagram storier, and ABBA enthusiast; amateur film critic. Can always be found writing from bed.