So now that my undergraduate graduation ceremony is behind me (sad face), I wanted to write a blog about my experiences both before the event through the booking process etc. and of the event itself. Before my ceremony, I had a lot of questions about getting there, how the ceremony works, getting my gown, what to wear and more, hopefully I can answer some of those questions for the next group of graduates!
When is graduation?
During the summer, once all the final grades have been confirmed, details will be added to your My Student Record page for your graduation ceremony. You’ll need to make sure your contact details are all correct on My Student Record once your classes have finished as, you’ll probably be heading home, and you’ll need your certificate and graduation tickets to be posted to your home address so, pop onto My Student Record and make sure they have the correct details on there.
All the ceremony dates and time will be confirmed on the My Student Record page during the summer between you completing your course and graduation season in November. Different departments have different dates during the two weeks of ceremonies so, if you’re in ACES faculty in the department of Media, Arts and Communication, like me, you’ll have your graduation day with other people within your specific department. Sometime in August, you’ll be able to start booking tickets and gowns for your ceremony and then towards the end of October, you’ll start getting reminders as this is when the deadline is for booking – there is still provision for booking late but it’s not ideal.
When it comes to booking your tickets, everybody is guaranteed three guests but can apply for up to ten. Tickets are £10 each and after the deadline date for booking, you’ll find out how many tickets you’ve been allocated and receive a refund for any that couldn’t be provided but you’ve paid for during booking. Easy! I booked mine pretty much on the deadline date and only booked for myself and my three guaranteed guests so, mine were confirmed and paid for straight away.
Ordering your gown
The deadline for ordering a gown online with Ede and Ravenscroft is the same as the ticket booking deadline so make sure you get them both done at the same time. You’ll need measurements to book – chest, arm length and head circumference so make sure you note those down and have your payment details ready. The gown itself comes in two parts – the main cloak that simply sits around your shoulders and you slip your arms into it, then there’s the triangular sash/hood that fits over the top and attaches with Velcro to your gown (see below for more details on how this works) and then of course the iconic mortarboard that sits on your head and gets thrown around for photos.
What to wear
I had originally planned on wearing quite a low-cut party dress but, after looking at the graduation details again and speaking to friends and family about their graduations, I decided I wanted something a little more smart and formal rather than something designed for parties. I knew that the hood for the gown is quite heavy but that it has a button loop on it so that it can be attached to a shirt or blouse and made secure. I always think that men have it slightly easier here as they wear a snappy suit and the hood goes right under the tie at the front and it looks very tidy and smart. I decided to wear a smart pair of tailored trousers and a plain white short-sleeved blouse, which sounds quite boring but was very comfortable, I didn’t have to worry about the hood pulling back as I could attach it to my shirt and I made sure the ensemble was smart but also suited my particular style.
For those wanting to get professional photographs, you can book with Ede and Ravenscroft – the same company that provides the gowns for the University. Booking is done online when you book your gown and you can select a variety of different packages, then you just choose how many copies and things you want on the day! You can also bring your friends and family down into the City Hall with you, so they can be in your photos. Personally, I didn’t book any photographs as I just wanted to get a few candid ones outside of the City Hall before going into my ceremony rather than opting for something more formal.
When entering the Oval Hall in the City Hall each guest is handed a programme of the event, this contains a list of all the graduates from each course at that ceremony and a summary of who is in attendance, as well as the speeches and addresses that’ll be given and when, for example the Chancellor.
Going on stage
I think the area of graduation that people are most unsure of is what happens during the actual ceremony. Any guests you’ve brought along will be sat together but with the rest of the guests in a different part of the Oval Hall. Graduates are seated within their course groups, in alphabetical order. There’s a short introduction to the ceremony, then the procession enters – these are the very important people who sit on the stage throughout the ceremony and the person/people with whom you shake hands with when it’s your turn to head onto the stage – this is usually the University Chancellor Sir David Winston and the Vice-Chancellor of your department. Officials lead graduates in rows from their seats, around the back of the hall and to queue up along the side, you’ll have a piece of paper with your name on which is given to the orator, who then reads out the name, queueing you to walk onto the stage, shake hands and then leave the stage on the other side. You WILL NOT fall over. All of this is in the ceremony introduction as well so that everybody knows what they’re doing!
So, I think I’ve said enough! The graduation information pages on the Sheffield Hallam website are way more helpful than me and everything essential is on there!