Impending graduation hasn’t set into reality for me. Come Saturday, I will be donning a cap and gown surrounded by family and friends that have supported me through the last four years. Yet, I hardly feel prepared for a life post-graduation.
The ceremony itself has its share of problems, like requiring students to purchase a cap and gown to never be used again for $70, rather than a rental option. Or the requirement to pick up your tickets in person on specific days during an already intensely busy time, the week before finals.
Also, while Wintrust Arena holds a capacity that’s essential for the large-scale event, it’s largely inaccessible to students without shuttles being offered. I’m not looking forward to transferring lines three times in graduation garb. While we can attribute some faults to tradition, I implore the university to think differently and with students’ current reality in mind.
Not only does the ceremony need some changes, but the process of graduating isn’t easy. We’re responsible for choosing our own classes, knowing what credits have to be fulfilled and you may not even know something is wrong with your credits until you receive a horrifying email stating “you are not on track” to graduate two weeks prior to graduation, like I did.
I’m finishing summer classes to complete my double major, so I’m walking the stage this week with 12 credit hours left and no job in my industry. Like many others, my finals are due two days before commencement. I feel like I have no time to process my life in the so-called “real world.” I’ll still be in classes through August, and graduation, which should be a time of relief and happiness, is a time of stress and confusion.
I don’t feel prepared to graduate because I’m not graduating “on time,” and there is often confusion that accompanies choosing our own classes. The lack of counselors and classes available to students doesn’t make it easier. For my last spring quarter, I had to halve my work hours because DePaul only offered one class time to complete a required credit, despite offering at least three classes throughout each fall, winter and spring quarter.
While some of my classes at DePaul have prepared me for my life in the workforce by giving assignments related to creating a portfolio, LinkedIn or other professional sites, they haven’t prepared me in the act of graduating and the most I ever learned about my future in my industry was through my internship.
Overall, graduation could be made easier for students in many ways, from making small changes to the event itself, to changing the way students are advised and creating more options for them. Graduation is in reality a source of stress when it should be a reason to celebrate our accomplishments.