Musings of a fake graduate

How a fateful oversight led to the creation of a ceremonious facade


Shree Baphna is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

I have learned a lot in these past four years, and I can certainly say that I am learning still. It is a cliche that every fourth-year says, but it is the unshakeable truth. In fact, one thing I learned in my fourth year was how to read. Yes, that’s right — I learned how to read. 

I started my second major, sociology, at the beginning of my fourth year which, in retrospect, seems like a silly idea. Long story short, I had been fooling myself into thinking I was premed for three entire years before I came to the rude and abrupt realization that it was not my cup of tea. In a chaotic scramble, as I finally understood what I really enjoyed, I proceeded to load my schedule with the appropriate classes that would enable me to slap a second degree onto my transcript. 

But in rushing in desperation like a headless chicken, I completely overlooked a crucial component — certain required classes for my major are not available to take in both the fall and spring semester. I completely blanked on a core class that was only offered in the fall and mistakenly forgot to take it during the fall semester. My bubble burst around enrollment time for the spring, as I realized that I had forgotten an entire class I was supposed to take in order to graduate with my second major. Only one class to graduate — and I forgot about it. Of course this would happen. I began to realize that I had grossly underestimated the difficulty of completing a last-minute second degree. 

I panicked — I already had my dress, shoes and a photo shoot (complete with poses) for graduation planned out in my head. For God’s sake, my marching band-sized family had already booked a massive house for themselves and were planning to turn my graduation festivities into a mini vacation. The fact that I forgot to take one tiny, simple class had jeopardized everyone’s grand plans — including mine. I was close to hyperventilating. 

Once again, in my headless chicken rush, I contacted almost every academic dean and enlisted every friend I had to listen to me lament about my stupidity. In the end, I learned that I had no choice but to take my missing class over the summer and officially graduate in August. The silver lining, however, was that I would be able to participate in the ceremony in May after all. The plan was for me to “fake” graduate. In fact, I was in for a surprise — the process of graduation was nothing but a ceremony itself. I would simply walk in my cap and gown just like everyone else. Diplomas were mailed to us anyway. 

All this then made me question — how “fake” is my graduation really? I suppose all I am missing out on is taking a Snapchat video of me slowly mousing over to the “apply for graduation” button on SIS, dramatically clicking it, then flipping the camera to show my face contorted with the typical fourth-year mix of emotions including sadness, fear, happiness, longing, pride and so on. 

The other difference is that I will certainly have to come back to Grounds in the sweltering heat of mid-June with none of my friends around me. Going to college when there is less than half the usual population of students sounds odd and rather eerie. However, I have heard people say that spending a summer in Charlottesville is a must before graduating — I assume this is aimed at those who do not actually live here. Although perhaps a little late, I am now looking forward to crossing this off the daunting “Things to do Before You Graduate” bucket list. Perhaps this idea — to fabricate my graduation — was a good one after all. I am getting more out of it than I presumably lost, and I now know that forgetting one class is something I will never regret. 

Although, I do strongly recommend everyone reads their major requirements and meets with their advisors — please do not follow my example.

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