Jump to content

Delaying Commencement (not graduation)


Recommended Posts

So this isn't so much a question as it is that I'm kind of bummed and want to vent a bit, although advice is welcome.


I am defending my dissertation in June and will receive my PhD in October 2014, which is the next conferral date after May.  I already have a postdoc lined up that I will begin August 2014.  The original plan was to walk in the May 2014 commencement ceremonies - at my university, PhD candidates whose degrees were conferred October 2013, February 2014, and who will be conferred May 2014 and October 2014 are eligible to participate in the May 2014 commencement ceremones.  For me there are three, because I'm in a joint program - my two schools' (the GSAS and the SPH) ceremonies, one on Sunday, May 18 and one on Tuesday, May 20, and then the university ceremony on Wednesday, May 21.


Here's the catch.  My younger sister-in-law is graduating from high school this May, and wouldn't you know but her graduation is on Monday, May 19.  She lives in Atlanta and I live and attend a university in New York.  I'm really close to her - I've been dating her brother, my now-husband, since she was about 6 or 7 years old.  I really want to see her graduate, and she'd be really bummed (and would probably cry) if I missed her graduation.  I definitely don't want to fly down Monday morning and then fly back Tuesday morning; while that's technically doable (her ceremony is at 7 pm and the Tuesday one for me is at 4 pm), I'll be by myself and there's no point in doing the commencement if I'm by myself.


Besides, my selfless heart reasons that I had two graduations already - high school and college - so I can afford to push mine back a bit, and I can walk in the commencement ceremonies in May 2015.  My postdoc is only a 5-hour bus ride away from University City and my husband attends the same university, is graduating in May 2015, and will be participating next year, too, so really it's very practical.  We'll have double the tickets and both of our families will be able to come and celebrate with us together.  Rational, yes?


Except that I'm kind of bummed!  I'm defending in June 2014, and participating in the ceremonies in May 2014 (which will be shortly after I distribute) just seems right.  By the time May 2015 rolls around, I'll have already been working in a postdoc for almost a full year, and I feel like it won't be as momentous/meaningful.  I'm not like way out there totally depressed about it, but it does bum me out when I get commencement mail and I should be like renting my gown and stuff and I'm...not.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW I had a similar plan, including defending in May, walking in June, and starting my postdoc in August -- but now because of all kinds of reasons I'm planning to defend in July, officially have my degree in September, and walk in next year's commencement in June (but I'll still start my postdoc in August, as planned). I figure it's a good excuse to come back and visit my professors and friends who will still be here next year, who I'm sure I'll miss after not seeing for a while. As long as you're officially done with the degree and the postdoc school is happy with whatever document you are issued that confirms you've defended and filed your dissertation, I think there is not much of a difference between walking this year or next! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm... I'd just skip the university ceremony. Not sure how things are at your university, but doctoral students at mine rarely go to the big commencement. We do the handshake, get hooded, and photo thing at the college graduation the day before, so that's the only part I'm planning to attend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I forgot that I made this thread, y'all.


The problem isn't with my postdoc - they don't care whether I walk or not, and they don't care that I won't officially have the degree until October.  They just want me to have defended by June.  It's really just about wanting to have walked this May instead of waiting a whole year for personal reasons.  But yeah, I think you're right - it's a good excuse to come back.


I have been considering not going to the big university commencement at all - it looks super boring, tbh.  But even if I decided to skip the university ceremony, my two schools' ceremonies are still the days before and after my sister-in-law's graduation ceremony.  So I'd still be dealing with flying down, then back up in 2 days.  And even if I decided to skip the GSAS convocation and just go to the SPH ceremony (which is my primary school, and the one in which my adviser - who would hood me - is housed), that one's on Tuesday, so I'd still have to leave early Tuesday morning and pray my flight doesn't get delayed.  And I have recently discovered that I really hate flying.


My SIL is planning on going to university.


I think I've come to terms/peace with it, though.  I talked to another friend of mine who walked before she officially finished her thesis and got her degree, and she said she actually felt weird walking in commencement before she finished.  She said everyone was celebrating having finished, but she still had a lot of work to do and couldn't really enjoy it the same amount.  She said she's also talked to people who have walked several months to almost a year after they officially graduated, and they didn't feel too bad about it at all - it was still a major accomplishment for them.


It worked to the point that I went to the bookstore today and saw the doctoral regalia and didn't feel bad, just happy and looking forward to next year, so I think I'm in a good place.  Thanks for your help and recommendations, everyone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use