Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Do I need to tell you what you ate for breakfast, too?

Some things about working with undergrads (now that I'm not one...)

I'm beginning to question the intelligence of the many, many students with whom I attended KU. Coming straight into my position from being an undergrad (ok, yes there was a 6 month delay...but I labeled that working on my mental health...) there are going to be a lot of students who come through my office who I actually know. I'm sure it will take 3 years or so for everyone I knew as a student to be flushed out. This is me being optimistic. I knew some smart people. Not the kind to take 8 years to graduate. I hope. Kind of weird, yes; but weirder (and more embarassing) are the things that these students (well, not the ones I know) believe about the graduation process at KU. You "graduate" and officially have a degree once you COMPLETE all your classes. You "walk down the hill" in May after you graduate OR whenever the heck you want to. In my case: I WALKED in May 2007 but officially GRADUATED in December 2007. Kind of cheating, whatever, but I wanted the experience.

A short synopsis of walking down the hill at KU: The only official, university-wide graduation ceremony is in May. All the graduates line up in awful black polyester on Memorial Drive and proceed through the Campanile (proceed makes this sound easy. It is not. 4,000 people is a lot to get through a tower...). THEN on the other side of the Campanile is a hill. And NO, not just a lovely hill like the one in your backhard but a BIG hill in which you walked up for (at least) four years earning you "KU Calves". So, we all parade down this hill with friends and family taking pictures, crying, etc and the ceremony is at the bottom in Memorial Stadium. Everyone's name is NOT called (but who needs that - the REAL photo op is coming down the hill) and the Chancellor speaks. So, to a general outsider (aka a non-Jayhawk) this might not sound exciting AT all. Well, it is and it has been done for about 100 years now, so deal with it. We like our nostalgia and tradition at KU!
SO, with 4,000 people (plus 10,000 screaming fans, I mean family members) everyone is screened before they walk down the hill, right? WRONG. Seriously, who has time for that? This is about as organized as 4,000 people can be with a couple of well placed signs and crowd control ropes. So, you can basically walk down the hill however often you want. But I wouldn't for several reasons. 1. Did I mention black polyester? In May? In Kansas? Right...moving on. 2) There's this little thing called IF YOU WALK THROUGH THE CAMPANILE BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY FINISHED, YOU WON'T GRADUATE. Seriously. Maybe a myth, but I would NOT want to mess with something like that. 3) Did I also mention this is freakin' one of the coolest things to do? Ever? On my list of top 5 favorite experiences. You don't want to demean it by doing it more than once. Unless you get another degree, then by all means do it again!

So, back to my point. You may *think* you're graduating. You walk, etc, pomp, etc. family, etc., circumstance, etc. But, did you finish that incomplete class? Did you transfer those juco hours? Did you REALLY need 45 junior/senior hours? Yes, yes you DO need all that to officially be granted a degree.
So, when a student emails asking, did I graduate in May and we respond, "no, because your hours didn't transfer" and then you come back with "but did I walk?" Well, here begins my theory on the intelligence of some people. We do not know if you walked. Did we hold your hand? Did you see us take a picture of you? Geez.

Silly undergrads. I can say that now since I am no longer actually an undergrad.

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