University of Queensland

How to survive graduation

Yesterday was Justin’s graduation from a Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education. After starting the course five years ago, he originally planned to study part-time while working to support himself. After a few years he decided to step up to a full-time workload (while still working!) and finished this semester.

Graduation is a exciting day and the culmination of years of hard study, juggling work and social commitments and discovery who you are as an adult. It can, however, be daunting and exhausting if you’re not well prepared.


Dress for the climate

Yesterday was hot. Twenty-eight degrees hot. The heat was exacerbated by the suffocating humidity. We had to trek back and forth across the uni at least twice – whose idea was it to have gown hire at one side and the ceremony at the other side of the uni!?

These extreme conditions won’t be the case for all graduation days (I was lucky enough to graduate in July when Brisbane’s weather is perfect) but the key message here is to dress appropriately. Luckily, I was a spectator yesterday so could avoid the heavy robe, but if you are destined to don the drapes (these things are not sexy) make sure you minimize your layers beneath.

The trick here is to remain professional – remember that this is not just the end of your student days but also the start of your career.


Go easy on the makeup

If you are unlucky enough to graduate in an Australian summer, heavy makeup will not be your friend. Keep your look light and natural to prevent endless touch-ups during the day. Grad day is about celebrating your success with family and friends – you don’t want to be stressing about whether your face is sliding off in the humidity.

Even if you don’t have to battle the heat, a clean and classy look is best for graduation. Everyone wants to stand out and look their best but remember, again, to look like a professional adult ready to enter the workforce.


Hang out with your parents

It’s easy to get caught up in the celebrations with your cohort – they have been a huge part of your journey! Remember that your parents, even if they haven’t contributed financially, are extremely proud of what you have achieved and are very excited to see what you do next. Remember to show your appreciation by spending the day with them. There will always more time to party with friends and your family will really appreciate the time you spend with them on this significant day.



This should be obvious, but be sure to register for your graduation ceremony! The university will still award you your degree but you won’t be allowed to be part of the official ceremony if you forget to do this. Check up on any other requirements imposed by your uni to avoid disappointment.


Say thank you!

Everyone will constantly be congratulating you, telling you how proud they are (even if they had nothing to do with your success), going on about how smart, successful, beautiful (?) and amazing you are. It is a great effort to get to the end of a degree, even merely passing requires hours of commitment, but remember to thank the people who have been in your life for those 3+ years. Even those who didn’t help in a financial our intellectual sense have contributed to who you are as a person; self-discovery is arguably one of the biggest achievements of surviving university.


Now that we’ve checked this box, it’s time to concentrate on filling these few weeks between finishing up our lives here and moving to London.  More to come on what else had to happen before booking our flights (yes, that’s done!).


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