Graduation can be quite nerve-wracking for first-time graduates because its more than just the dean of your faculty putting a sash over your shoulders and receiving a piece of paper. So, if you are feeling a bit lost, this guide will give you everything you need to know and more.
You might not always listen to your parents when they tell you to iron and put out your clothes the night before, but this suggestion is worth taking the day before your graduation. It also helps to know what else you might need to buy or get ready before the ceremony. Remember that at Stellenbosch University (SU) graduates do not wear caps, so make sure your hair is photo-ready.
What to take along
Since you will have to be at Danie Craven stadium two hours before the actual ceremony, you will have a lot of time to spare. Your family may be free to enjoy a brunch or late lunch somewhere, but you will be left hungry if you do not take something to drink and snack on. Especially since the ceremony itself is also at least two hours. If you take gum or mints along, remember to take enough so that you can share them with your fellow graduates. At the stadium, they will read all of the names to make sure everyone is in the correct order, so it takes a while.
If you will be wearing make-up, make sure you take the essential tools for touch-ups along. It is hot in Stellenbosch and if you like snacking your make-up might need a bit of touching up.
Speaking of hot weather – remember to take some kind of perfume along. The academic wear, more commonly known as a gown, is quite heavy and therefore hot. To feel fresh, make sure you smell fresh.
There are a few places in Stellenbosch where you can take family and individual photos. The Theology and Sport Science faculty are a good option because they have caps and diploma cylinders on standby, just to make your photos more authentic.
It is recommended to take photos before your ceremony, especially if you are graduating in the afternoon since that is when you will look your best and you haven’t sat through the ceremony yet. However, taking photos after the ceremony also works. You will have stars in your eyes all day, anyway.
Take note, when you cross the stage, there will be two photos taken of you, so listen when they announce how you should pose and where to look when receiving your degree.
It also helps to have a friend that enjoys taking relaxed, candid photos outside of the Coetzenburg Centre. It captures the atmosphere and emotions of the day perfectly and you will have that as a keepsake forever.
Timing is everything
Remember that if you arrive late at the Coetzenburg Centre, you will not be allowed to walk across the stage and therefore will not receive your degree on the day.
Make sure to get your academic wear well ahead of time. If you are graduating in the morning session, hire your wear the day before at Die Stal (the building behind the Danie Craven statue). If you are graduating in the afternoon session, get your wear well before 15:00, but not the day before, since the graduates receiving their degrees in the morning need it before you do. Also, make sure to take cash to Die Stal to hire your academic wear, since they do not accept card payments.
You will also have to get your guests’ tickets beforehand and at Die Stal. You will not have to pay for these tickets, it is merely to keep track of how many guests are going to be in the centre. Make sure you know how many tickets you are eligible for:
Undergraduate and honours’ degrees: two (2) guest tickets per graduate;
Masters’ degrees: three (3) guest tickets per graduate;
Doctoral degrees: four (4) guest tickets per graduate
They calculate the amount of tickets each graduate receives on how many people the building is legally allowed to take. So if you have more guests than tickets, don’t worry – they can watch the ceremony in the Sport Science faculty.
How to celebrate
Luckily for students, Stellenbosch has a lot of great restaurants ranging from super fancy to roosterkoek. Just keep in mind that most places will be packed, so rather call and book a table for you and your guests just to make sure you have a spot secured to celebrate. Make sure to buy sparkling wine or champagne beforehand so that it is one less stressor on the day.
If you need any further information about graduation, SU has a very comprehensive websitewhich can help you make the day as smooth as possible.
Make sure you enjoy as much of the day as you can. For most students this only happens once and for your family, it is all about you, so make use of the opportunity.