Why graduation is so underrated and overrated


No one saw this day coming. Not even my parents. I never thought university was for me, in fact, I only applied just to see what the fuss was about. Actually, it was mainly because it was drilled in my head that in order for me to get somewhere in life, I would need a degree. Reality check: you don’t. Don’t get me wrong, university is a great experience and in some sense it does put you a step ahead everyone else. If you want to become a doctor or dentist, then yes, you definitely need a degree but for something like my course, I doubt it.  I say this because other people had hyped up university so much that I was expecting a lot more.

I did end up learning a lot, gaining new skills and realising my strengths and weaknesses. But did I really need 3 years to complete a journalism degree? I calculated that if we exclude the long holiday breaks, the days we didn’t have class and the actual hours we spent in uni, in total, it would add up to somewhat just over a year (I think). I’m £56,000 in debt for a course that could’ve been done in a year. I considered dropping out many times, especially during second year but here I am now as a graduate feeling proud of myself with a hint of regret.

What you must know about graduations is that they’re like annual holidays. They were made for business purposes. See, you have to pay for each seat you reserve, the gown and hat you hire for a few hours and the photo you may end up locking up in a photo album. These are just the basic things that most people tend to spend their money on. Then there’s the additional stuff. There’s optional merchandise like teddy bears, hoodies etc. There’s the price of your outfit. I mean that’s if you want to look snazzy. There’s the stupid different photo frames that you could just purchase at TKMaxx. There’s a £6 delivery fee for the goddamn photo. If you’re travelling by car to the ceremony (like we did) then you can’t forget the expensive car park ticket you’re faced with after (14 f*cking pounds?!). There’s just so much to pay for and before you know it, you’ve paid a ridiculous price for an event that will last a few hours when you could’ve spent that on a holiday somewhere in Europe.

Ok let’s try to ignore the fact that you paid £9,000 a year and yet the university can’t throw in graduation as a complimentary gift. The actual ceremony itself isn’t that big of a deal if you REALLY think about it. Don’t underestimate the gowns, they’re heavy. I think I was the only person concerned with who’s head my hat had previously been on (fear of head lice). The fact that they call out everyone’s name one by one and you have to clap for every single person becomes boring after the first row of people have gone up. Oh let’s not forget that they call out the grades people got. Ok, they don’t technically call out your grade but if you got a 2:2 or below, you are called out first for receiving an honours. If you achieved 2:1 you’re basically just another sheep in the crowd. The students who received first class honours are literally called out as “first class honours, Suck My Toe Smith.” As if seeing them announce it on Facebook wasn’t enough. I’m not hating, I’m just…ugh…basically Marxism.

THERE IS NO FOOD SERVED AT THE CEREMONY. Are you f*cking kidding me?! They could’ve gone to Iceland (supermarket here in the UK) and just got a ton of those giant party packs but noooooo I’m paying £200 to eat air. Carry snacks in your bag because all that clapping somehow burns a ton of calories and you end up imaging the people on stage as food. Psht they offer champagne and orange juice instead. As if that could feed the fat kid inside me.

I just realised, I made this whole post sound as if I didn’t enjoy my graduation. I did. In fact, I had to keep holding back the tears because I felt so proud of myself. The girl who doesn’t enjoy studying, wanted to drop out, doesn’t ever feel smart enough, managed to get a 2:1. It felt like all my hard work had finally paid off. Channel 4 news presenter and talented journalist, Jon Snow gave an inspiring speech (fact: he’s obessed with Iran. Whoop whoop!) He reminded us that although the government created an institution to put us in debt, we shouldn’t allow this to be a form of regret and how we should always try to do volunteer work in order to help others. Pop culture icon, Sandi Toksvig gave a hilarious speech about women learning to always stand tall, beauty fades but our minds continue to grow and a Beethoven quote about thread which I can’t seem to remember, but it was a good one. Also, the traditions involved with a graduation like the gown and hat, the speeches given and the ceremony itself is something that I really enjoyed. I think traditions can often be beautiful things and this is one of them which isn’t carried out everywhere. My cousin in Iran just told me that they don’t hold a graduation ceremony for them there unless they’re receiving their PhD so I shouldn’t take it for granted.

University has it’s highs and lows. It can be overrated sometimes but it can also end up being better than you expected. I was told by my teachers in sixth form that you tend to make your “friends for life” at uni. After 3 years, I made friends, lost some of them who ended up continuously b*tching about me behind my back for the rest of the year (clearly it was their loss, not mine), and I think I walked out of university with only 2 friends but a handful of people that will probably just end up appearing on my timeline every now and then. University isn’t about the friends you make or the money you throw into it or how much you study. It’s about the experiences and skills you learn and what you choose to make of your future after it has ended. I think my future will always be slightly blurry but I’m proud of myself for taking this huge step towards it.

Since I spoke too much, I will end on some photos from today. I’ve also posted my outfit details below as well:
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I’m doing the exact same pose in all three photos. Creative Lola, very creative.

Outfit details: 
Blazer: Pull & Bear
Top: Primark
Trousers: Zara
Heels: Marks and Spencer
Necklace: Aldo

Lola x


The Start Of A New Chapter In My Life

I should’ve really posted this yesterday but I was unbelievably tired and needed time to relax (basically just catching up on sleep). I remember around this time, 3 years ago (2013), I was studying for 10 hours straight every single day. I would forget to eat and unwillingly developed an eating disorder. My phone was mostly on silent and locked up in a drawer just so I could focus. I worked my butt off to get into the university I wanted even though, deep down, I knew university wasn’t for me.

Nevertheless, I got into my first choice, Westminster university, even though I lied to the head of Journalism (Jim) in the interview. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I applied to study journalism because I watched Ugly Betty and thought “that’s the lifestyle for me”. (Please don’t be as stupid as me by making life decisions based on TV shows. I’m still guilty of doing this.) Anyway, Jim didn’t know about the lie until recently when I was telling the story to a friend and another lecturer, Patrick. I decided to come clean with Jim, thinking that he already knew I lied but surprisingly he didn’t. I don’t recommend lying but I was put on the spot and didn’t realise what was coming out of my mouth. Technically, it wasn’t a lie. It was more of a ‘misunderstanding’… Yeah, let’s just say that.

First year of BA journalism at uni was quite fun. I enjoyed it. I learnt a lot and my grades were pretty good. Second year was horrendous. I went through a really bad phase where I began to hate uni and just stopped going. I was drugged up on antidepressants which had a weird effect on me. I felt numb towards everything and couldn’t process any thoughts. It started impacting my work as I lacked creativity and motivation. It was a really tough point in my life but instead of deciding to drop out (which I was really keen on), I pushed myself to finish my degree. This year was the final push and it took a lot of sleepless nights, mood swings, tears and anxiety for me to get by, but I did it.

I started writing my dissertation in February so that I wouldn’t be panicking in April. My insomnia became worse. My body and brain would be tired but I would lie awake every night till 6am, overthinking my life. I had to ask a stranger in Costa to help me work out the mathematical side to analysing my data. I constantly messaged the founder of Tinder on every social networking site possible just so he could provide me the most up to date statistics. I considered sending him nudes just to get his attention. He never replied in the end but I still wrote my 12,000 words and submitted it in.

I took my mum to uni with me yesterday to hand in my dissertation. When I was applying for uni, no one was there for me. No one came to the open days with me. My parents and I weren’t brought up here so they had no idea how the education system in the UK worked. I did it all on my own. So I wanted to show her what my uni looked like since she didn’t get a chance to continue her education. I was stressed out the whole day so I didn’t get to absorb as much of uni as I wanted. Stupidly I only took a picture in the auditorium and not one in the news rooms we had spent the majority of our time in. I forgot to take a picture with my favourite lecturers. I forgot everything. I just wanted to hand in my dissertation and close this chapter of my life.

Everyone took the standard ‘handing in dissertation’ picture. My mum however, accidentally took 6 videos of me posing for what I thought, would be pictures. So the picture below looks pretty sh*t as I had to take screenshots from a video. I was pissed off at the time but now I’m just happy that she was there with me.

I still have two more assignments left to submit so it hasn’t really kicked in that university is over. I think it will only kick in on graduation day but thank you to all my friends and family who stuck by me these past 3 years. You all put up with my anxiety attacks, my mood swings, my tears and my anger. I thought I would find my friends for life at uni (that’s what they all said would happen) but I just ended up meeting some great people on the way. Some who I’m glad I met, others I’m hoping to actually stay in touch with. Oh, I also want to thank my dissertation tutor Sara Marino and the head of journalism Jim McClellan for all their quick email responses, help and support. I need to also thank Petsa Kaffens for all our lovely conversations in her office and for all the inspiration she has taught me through her electric style and her achievements in life. I will forever adore Petsa.

Overall, I am just so proud of myself. This is the first time in my life that I’ve finished something I voluntarily decided to do. Those who know me, know that I don’t even finish my drinks, let alone push myself through uni. I can’t wait to see what the new chapter in my life has in store for me but I’m ready for all the new challenges on the way. I’m going to continue to make myself proud and I hope you all learn to make decisions and succeed in life, for you. Make yourself proud.

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Lola x