COLUMN: I don’t see the thrill of college graduation


Photo courtesy of Jessica Rish

The author, second from the right, at her high school graduation.

Last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the class of 2020 was hopeful that their graduation ceremony would still be a possibility. As time went on, that sliver of hope vanished, and the class of 2020 finished their last courses on Zoom and graduated via live stream.

Now the class of 2021 is facing the same reality — a makeshift graduation. 

On April 12, DePaul’s Office for Academic Events sent out an email to the graduating class of 2021 announcing a “Graduation Celebration,” an event that allows students and their families to register for commencement-themed events during the end of May. 

However, I won’t be there. 

Not because I think the event is lame, but because despite it all, I don’t think I would be walking at graduation even if the pandemic never happened.

The feelings of not wanting to walk at my commencement ceremony are not new; I felt this way in high school, too. The stress of requesting my cap and gown, ordering and addressing commencement announcements got the best of me. I begged my parents, asking them if there was any way to skip, but they were insistent that I walk. I did, and it wasn’t all bad, despite my tassel falling off while walking across the stage and my cords getting tangled.

High school graduation is a lot different than college. I would have had regrets if I had not partaken in the jamboree of graduating high school. It truly was a last hoorah, sitting near my friends, recognizing friends and family in the arena and singing with the choir one last time. 

However, a traditional college ceremony radiates a different energy. I would be in a room full of strangers spending upwards of three hours listening to people talk and watching people walk, which doesn’t persuade me to attend. 

Graduating from college is an accomplishment, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s worth my time, or if it is more of a performance for the university and my family.

Throughout my time at DePaul, I have been critical of the institution’s choices, so I’m not eager to give the university more money for an outfit that I will wear once and will collect dust in my closet until it is eventually donated.  

The only reason I would consider partaking in graduation festivities is for my parents. My mom and dad are probably more proud than I am that I am graduating because I am their only child who has taken the stereotypical route and has gone to college. But neither of my parents walked at their college graduation ceremonies, and I want to keep the tradition alive. 

Perhaps I’m jaded because it doesn’t sound enticing to jump through all the hoops to make this achievement more exciting than it already is. I don’t need the frills to commemorate my undergraduate years. I’m still unsure if I will want to walk when I finish graduate school. 

I am sympathetic to my peers who were looking forward to celebrating their graduation in the classic and timeless way. Like the class of 2020, they were robbed, and I hope they get to celebrate in a fulfilling way despite it all. I, on the other hand, will be celebrating with top-shelf tequila and boujee champagne, while waiting for my diploma to come in the mail. Cheers to the class of 2021!