16 May 2010

Zella Kate's Nearly Fool-Proof Guide To A Pleasant, Embarrassment-Free Graduation

Greetings, gentle readers! I graduated with my A.A. yesterday, so I decided to blog about my experience. I have only been to two graduations--my high school graduation, which was technically not really a high school graduation because I was homeschooled and have a GED not an actual high school diploma, and then this college graduation, so I am not really an expert on graduations, but I hope this post is a help to those of you who will be graduating this year (and a dose of amusement for all of you.). Without further ceremony--get the hideous pun?--I give you my list of ten things to remember:

Clothing (I am the world's worst person to give fashion advice, so I am just being practical here):

1. Don't wear lots of layers or very heavy clothes: If you remember nothing else, remember this: You will, in addition to whatever you have on, be in a gown and a somewhat ridiculous hat (more on the cap later). You will probably be waiting for almost an hour in a hot room/hallway in said get-up while you are given instructions and lined up like cattle. You will have to sit in said get-up for an extended period of time while someone rambles on at your commencement and while the degrees are passed out, which is another hour or so. Let's just say you will get overheated quickly and will want to die. Yesterday, I wore a dress and jacket under my gown, which is really dumb because I am very heat sensitive and have had two heat strokes before. After about twenty minutes, I felt like a turkey on Thanksgiving morning--roasted. I would chalk this up to my heat sensitivity, but everyone else next to me was complaining that they were overheated, too. Wear something light. But whatever you do, do not wear shorts. Silly people like myself will see you in a gown with what looks like absolutely nothing underneath and automatically assume you are not fully dressed, which childish people like myself find hilarious. *giggles*

2. Realize that you will be negotiating stairs, in all likelihood, and a stage: If you wear five inch high heels all the time, you should be fine if you wear them at your graduation. But if you're like me and have had traumatizing experiences with high heels--mine involved tumbling over in a parking lot; I have one word for you: Owwwwwwww!--I suggest picking something you can easily walk in. You're going to feel self-conscious when you're walking up, anyway. No point in making it worse by wearing unwieldy stilts if you're not used to them. (I suppose you men can ignore this one. Lucky!)

3. Have someone else check and adjust your cap: You will just screw it up each time you touch it. And it will never feel straight. I kept thinking mine was crooked when it was fine. Whenever it was straight, it felt crooked. My friend Stephanie kept telling me to just not look at it or touch it because I was making it worse. But it felt crooked! And, please, dear God, make sure the cap's on right. (One guy next to me had his on backwards. We all thought it was funny and couldn't figure out why. Someone finally told him. He was like, "Well, I wondered why it was so uncomfortable." o_O)

Before/At The Ceremony:

4. Make sure anyone you invite knows how to get there and has precise directions: Hehe I told some friends who were coming to turn off at the Exxon Station, which is next to the school. "You can't miss it!", I told them. Well, while my family and I were driving to the graduation, my grandma asked me if I told my friends how to get there. "Of course. I told them to turn off at the Exxon Station." "Um, that's not an Exxon Station, Zella." "Yes, it is." "No, it's a Kum and Go." "Oh." Grandma was right. It was a Kum and Go Station. I have driven by it everyday for almost two years and didn't know that. *heads desk* Fortunately, my friends found their way by ignoring my directions and following street signs.

5. Watch the person ahead of you to see where you're supposed to walk and what you're supposed to do: If you have anything bigger than a medium-sized graduation, things will quickly turn into an assembly-line procedure. Everyone just falls into line like automaton drones. It's much easier on you if you go with the flow and tromp after the person ahead of you. What's this? You may be the first one? Change your last name.

6. Clap after the obligatory music and speeches and introductions even if you are feeling grouchy and could not care less. It's just common courtesy. Everyone will clap for you though they probably do not know you. But do not clap for every graduate when they get their degree unless there are only three of you. Your hands will start to sting very quickly. (I lasted through the first row before I decided that my hands needed preservation.)

7. When you're on stage, pause briefly so your family can photograph you but don't hold up the line. Otherwise, your older brother, who is manning the camera, will yell at you later for not stopping. I didn't see him waving at me. Well, I did, but I thought it was a happy, congratulatory wave, so I waved back as I sprinted back to my seat. For the last time: I am sorry!


8. Realize that your family will photograph you incessantly: For the most part, you should tolerate them. They are happy for you and if you indulge them a little, they will probably get it out of their system and leave you alone. However, it can quickly get out of hand if you're forced to pause and smile every two minutes. If so, you have two options. You could shout at them to stop, but that rarely works and just unnecessarily hurts your family's feelings. The better method is to make lugubrious faces at the camera every time they try to take your picture. They will get the message AND the resulting pics will be pretty darn funny. (I would post some of mine from yesterday, but when I look lugubrious, I look deranged. :P)

9. Get photos of anyone you want pics with ASAP: If you want someone's picture (be it a teacher or a friend), hunt them down and force them to have their picture taken. It doesn't take long for everyone to scatter and never be seen again. (I learned this the hard way--I wanted a picture with one of professors who I have been particularly close to over the past year. I shook hands with him and walked off to find some others I wanted to talk to. By the time I caught up with my family, who had the camera, and went to go look for him, my notoriously shy professor had run away. Drat!)

10. Have fun! Congratulations! You put in a lot of effort and deserve the recognition for all your hard work! *hug* :)

Are you graduating this year? Have you graduated already? Any other tips to add? :)


  1. Zella, this is a great article! You should sub it to Sparknotes!
    Oh, yeah, and again, because I don't want anyone to accuse me of an uncongratulatory attitude...

  2. Yay for a graduation post Zella! Thanks, this was incredibly helpful, now I know a little bit more about what to expect in four weeks.
    No shorts, have a friend fix cap, camera pausing, lugubrious expressions. Got it. ^_^
    And congrats again!!!
    By the way my Saturstory is up. A bit late, but that seems to be a trend this week for everything. :D

  3. i still have one more year till i graduate. but i have to go to this year's graduation because i have to play for band...good advise though :)

  4. Three hoorays for Zella:
    Hip, Hip, HOORAY!
    Hip, Hip, HOORAY!
    Hip, Hip, HOORAY!

    This was very funny and informational- I will definitely keep this in mind my senior year :)

  5. Scott: You think they'll take it? Hmm . . . I may be e-mailing Miss Marm then. Thanks so much for suggesting that! Thanks for the double congratulations, as well! :)

    Feathers: Yay! Glad it was useful. You'll do just fine--You picked up all the essentials, especially the bit about shorts. (I am now scarred for life. :P) Thanks for the congrats! :)

    Amarantha: Thanks so much! That sounds like fun. What instrument do you play? Early congratulations on your graduation next year! :)

    Scadoosh: Awww Thanks so much! I am glad you enjoyed it and found it informative. When will you graduate? :)

  6. it's impossible to take pictures of our graduates at our school graduation. we have our graduation in our football stadium so all the graduates are on the field, all wearing the same gown so it's impossible to tell who is who, while all the invites (ie family) are up in the audience a thousand feet away, where they cannot see anything but this sea of people all wearing the same thing. They put up a makeshift stage in the middle of the field, but unless you have some ultra-long zoom lens and a good vantage point, you'll never be able to photograph the person getting their diploma thing on stage. you just see colored dots moving up on one side and down the other...

  7. Oh my, Sky! That sounds like the school district is trying to make things complicated. You need to organize the relatives into rogue bands of photographers that will sneak up to the stand and take snapshots. Take that, crazy administrators! :D

  8. Congratulations!! It must feel nice to finally be free of school after all that work xD

    I agree with Scott; this would make an excellent SL article on graduating!

    My sister graduated from college yesterday too, but it was fairly normal, aside from the Dr. Seuss theme at the party before. But that was kinda awesome.

  9. Thanks, Rebel! I am glad you enjoyed it! I think I am going to e-mail the eds and ask if it's okay to submit something previously published. Thanks, guys! :)

    That Dr. Seuss party sounds like the epitome of awesomeness! Just curious: What did your sister major in? :)

  10. It was based on his book 'The Places You'll Go' so it was a pretty cute commencement theme.

    She majored in Political Science and Foreign Affairs (or International Relations. I get those mixed up. Something to do with foreign countries, anyway.)

  11. Oh, that's cool! I was a poli sci major myself for all of about seven months. :D It's a very interesting subject, but my love for history and English (combined with a growing dislike for the law career I had planned on) made me switch. I wouldn't mind taking a few more classes in it, but the school that I am transfering to doesn't offer them. :)

  12. what do you mean "previously published?" you mean published here? if that's all, then of course you can still send it to sparklife! it's not a crime to plagerize yourself, and this IS just your own personal blog after all.

  13. LOL Yeah, I would hope they wouldn't be too picky about that. Many publishers won't take previously published material, but, as you say, since they aren't paying and it is just my blog, it should be okay. :D

    Thanks, sky! That makes me feel better! I need to send it in. :)