As of yesterday, I am officially a graduate. I’ve got a certificate to prove it and even a fancy new pen, with my University written across it, as a present from my parents. I have to admit, I did think the graduation ceremony was going to be lengthy and boring. It wasn’t. I got to see many of my good friends, swap congratulations and gush over how good we all looked in our robes. I got official photos taken with my parents, had a few more taken with friends, my grandparents and, outside the City Hall where the graduation took place, with many of the others who also graduated that day. My hat disappeared and I ended up with one too small after throwing them in the air. During the ceremony itself (before the hat throwing) we were treated to a couple of very inspiring speeches – admittedly, more inspiring if you’re a woman.
One thing was made clear throughout the day. In the current climate, many people are losing faith in the value of a degree. So many people have them, so many are able to reach the same stage I’m at that it’s no longer seen as something worth going for. Students are seen as a bunch of kids just putting off going into the real world, putting off growing up. But yesterday, we were really made to feel that, whatever anyone else says, we have done something great. We have achieved something that, for some, is quite difficult. We went from students to graduands to graduates and Alumni. I think many people don’t quite realise how hard it is to get to that stage and, for whatever reason, they want students to think those three years were pointless.
They really weren’t.
Not for me, anyway.
I understand that University isn’t for everyone. I’ve known people drop out because they realise they won’t get anything out of it. I’ve known others who just didn’t go because, for whatever reason, they didn’t see the point. I get that. It’s three years of hard work, of being skint, of getting into more and more debt and coming out of it with nothing more than a certificate. But the people who see it as just that are, I think, missing the point. The truth is, going to University resulted in the best and worst three years of my life. Halfway through second year I seriously considered dropping out or deferring until the following September. I was struggling – not with work, but with my living situation. I came home unhappy, remained unhappy at home and, when my parents dropped me off after Christmas, my mum asked me, “Are you sure you want to stay?” I said yes. In reality I wanted to say no, I wanted to pack my stuff back up, bung it in the car and return home with my parents.
Now, I am so unbelievably happy I stayed. During the year and a half since, I have met some amazing people, solidified friendships, got closer to others and realised how strong I really can be. I moved to a place that is roughly five hours by car and six hours by train away from home. I proved to myself I could do that, that I could get through anything without running back to my parents every time I was upset or hurt. I became more independent. And I worked damn hard.
I have come out of University with a 2:1. Writing my name, I could now, if I wanted, put BA at the end. But the last three years were about so much more than that. I couldn’t have done it alone but I’ve learnt new things about myself, I’ve learnt what type of people are worth my time and who isn’t. I’ve done. I’ve graduated University and no matter what anyone says, that’s something no one can take away from me.
Now it’s time to enter the real world, to get a job and start focusing on the future and a career and all that adult stuff you’re supposed to do when you grow up. The only problem is, I don’t want to grow up yet. I really don’t feel like an adult. But I guess that’s something that may or may not come in the future. Right now, I’m not going to worry. I’m just going to focus on the fact that I’ve achieved something and that the last three years, whatever I went through, really were worth it.