Graduation and Regalia and Tickets, Oh My! Navigating Commencement, The Final Frontier

UC Davis Logo

UC Davis Logo

By: Rory Miner


The last quarter of your senior year as a soon-to-be graduate of UC Davis is, understandably, a stressful one. Between finishing up internships, squeezing in the last few units, maintaining your GPA, and actually trying to enjoy your final weeks of college, the last thing you need is added stress when you simply want to be focusing on graduating.


Unfortunately, the graduation process has not been made a smooth one, and in fact serves as a source of unnecessary stress for seniors. The primary culprit for this undue stress is the lack of clear instruction. Many seniors simply are unaware of all that is being asked of them in this final quarter, let alone how to perform these tasks.


While email updates may seem like a logical mode of communication, seniors are bombarded with emails on the daily from their various classes, organizations, extracurriculars, and jobs. Any graduation-related information is lost in the crowd due to sheer volume.


There is not a clear source to turn to regarding commencement questions, graduation protocol, or anything in between. There is a myriad of information available, but inconveniently distributed across multiple platforms, giving conflicting and/or vague answers. Additionally, the differences between graduation and commencement are confusing, which adds complexities as students try to  figure out which tasks correspond to which event. 


The second culprit for this dysfunctional system is the timing. 


As seniors, we understand that the quarter system demands a quick turnaround time for pretty much everything we do here; we are used to it at this point in our college career. And it’s understandable that inquiring about graduation information a quarter in advance is too early, as the current focus then is on that quarter’s graduates.

That said, leaving the majority of graduation preparation to be handled during the final quarter—the same quarter in which one is graduating—is a recipe for disaster. As if there were not already enough going on this quarter, it also dramatically shortens the window of time for students to perform tasks related to graduation.


These tasks, while usually not very demanding in and of themselves, are serious for the sheer importance of each to be completed correctly, in a timely manner. And the timely manner aspect is threatened when not given ample time to prepare. 


While seniors are expected to be incredibly on top of any graduation related announcements, these announcements are not forthcoming as the man behind the curtain is not prompt to share information with us. The commencement page features apologetic “TBDs” in place of any useful guidelines, even as we get increasingly closer to the actual event.


This double standard is not only unfair, it is yet another reason things are not going smoothly. How are students expected to be on top of graduation when we cannot make plans due to the lack of information provided?


Additionally, what is being asked of graduates prompts further complaint.


The price of regalia is absurd, even for rental. If you choose to purchase your regalia instead of renting, you are actually only technically purchasing the cap and tassel, as the gown is to be returned following the ceremony. This regalia is deemed mandatory, which is all the more frustrating.


Also, I know I am not the only student unimpressed with the mere four tickets we are each allotted for the commencement ceremony.


While I appreciated the opportunity to apply for up to two more tickets in March, I was further frustrated to learn that we would not know if we would be permitted any extra tickets until less than three weeks before the ceremony. I am lucky enough to have family and friends living close by and am grateful to not have to struggle with flights or other less negotiable modes of transportation while we await the number of guests I am allowed to have. 


Overall, I have heard plenty of unhappy opinions regarding the way graduation and commencement are being handled at UC Davis.


For the students graduating this Spring Quarter, this is a one-time deal. While we may look back fondly at our high school graduation, or eagerly anticipate future graduations should we choose to continue with our academic career, this is our one shot at our UC Davis undergraduate graduation. 


This is not the university’s first rodeo. Why there is not more clear instruction, streamlined communication, and overall more efficient processing in place, is one question I believe I will graduate without knowing the answer to.



About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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