You know what, I wouldn’t even be mad about a Zoom graduation and here’s why

Raise a glass via zoom!

This academic year has not been a good one for university students, least of all final years. Two rounds of strikes, a big fat moodle failure, followed by the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that our final year of uni has been cut short. To top it all off, our long-awaited graduation ceremony has been postponed, moved to zoom, or cancelled altogether. While this sucks, to say the least, it really doesn’t take away from what has been an amazing university experience.

At the end of the day: we ran the race, we worked our arses off and we had a good time doing it. Whilst a zoom graduation isn’t quite what I’d pictured, it’s the memories we have that count.

Graduation day is heralded as one of the most important days in our young adult lives. Long before bridal gowns, veils and saying I do, there is another ‘perfect day’: one that does not bank on you meeting the right person and falling wildly in love. The perfect day I am referring to is known by university students around the world,  as graduation.

What almost was

Many of us have spent a large proportion of our third year thinking about our graduation ceremony. What will I wear? Should I walk normally, or should I adopt a kind of strut that I usually reserve for entering a nightclub after a few preclub tequilas? Will my dad mind if I don’t invite him to the ceremony and instead invite my new boyfriend? These are just a selection of the most important ones I have bored a countless number of friends with.

It is not just the ceremony that’s exciting either, it’s what it actually represents. I like to think of a graduation ceremony as remarkably similar to a medal ceremony at the Olympic games. Yes, it is nice to have won the race, but it’s the acknowledgement for doing so that matters just that little bit more.

However, this was all before Corona (or BC as I now like to refer to it). As I write this, we are stuck in the middle of the most inconvenient time known to man – a global pandemic, where mass gatherings are a thing of the past, and shaking hands with the vice-chancellor is the stuff of dreams.

For all of us third years, the dream of a traditional graduation seems to be over. There will be no cap and gown, no celebratory meal with my best friends, no in person graduation pictures, no last jaunt to rock city , no grad ball and no walk across the stage (strut or no strut). We, the class of 2020, will be graduating, quite literally, whilst the world is closed.

I have replaced questions such as, ‘What length of dress shall I wear?’ with ‘Do you think that if I wear a nice top and then some pyjama bottoms, anyone will notice?’ and my google search history now contains searches such as ‘how to make your own graduation cap’ and ‘gown sewing for beginners’. I even recently subtly suggested to my dad that he built me a mini stage, to which he retorted ‘just grow up and walk across the patio like a normal person’.

However, among the preparations for our virtual graduations, there is a very real disappointment in the fact that we won’t get the graduation that we have all really looked forward to.

As one of my best friends so eloquently put it , “If I had known that my three years at Notts would have included over a months’ worth of strikes, countless Moodle failures and a global pandemic, which all have all but ruined my job prospects,  then I probably would’ve just applied to go on love island instead.”

While this disappointment is real, and we have missed out on the long-anticipated tradition, when I think of what it actually means to be a graduate, I can’t help but wonder if it’s those things that truly matter. Yes, there will be no graduation ceremony, and no, my dad won’t build me my own graduation stage, but I do have something way more important than any of that, the memories.

When I look back at my last few years at Nottingham I see it as a hugely significant time in my life, full of frequent trips to Crisis, beautiful lifelong friendships, missed buses, horrendous hangovers, hilarious anecdotes,  countless pre-drinks held in our very ugly kitchen and a treasure trove of truly wonderful memories of which I will cherish forever.

So to the class of 2020, whilst we have by no means taken the conventional route to ‘adulthood’, and for now, we are the only year group in the entire world to have undertaken a ‘isolation graduation’, I say this:

We ran the race, we won it and we should be bloody proud of ourselves, medal ceremony or not. So whack a bin bag round your shoulders, fasten a makeshift cap to your head, switch on your computer and raise a glass via zoom, because we did it baby, and not even a global pandemic can take that away from us.