How do I know when I’m ready to graduate?

April 11, 2018  |   Found in Editorial // Feature

It’s the end of an era. At least, for me and everyone else graduating this year it is. I’ve been in school for six full years, studied every Fall and Winter (and the occasional Spring) semester, and have come out the other side with two degrees under my belt, a year of Co-op work experience, and a little bit traumatized.

Someone once told me that if you don’t absolutely despise school then you aren’t quite ready to graduate. Believe me, I have trudged my way to my classes this last year, shuffling through the halls with the excitement level equivalent of a slug’s. I have kicked back my heels in my lectures, staring around at my fellow students like I’m some kind of wizened, know-it-all who has stood the test of university. To be frank, I’ve been a little bit bitter about my current status as an undergraduate. Okay, maybe a lot.

When you’ve been in university long enough to see your friends fling their fancy caps in the air, it’s hard not to feel a pellet of resentment. Some days, the fact that I have not yet thrown my fancy cap makes me think that a convocation only a few months away is just a few months too far. But then there are moments where I find myself lounging in MacHall until the doors lock and even A&W is closed. Or when I’m flitting from one event to the next, carting my camera and notebook.

Though I gripe about every single assignment I have to do in my Computer Science class, and a love-hate relationship has truly formed between myself and reading, I can’t deny that I don’t really want to leave. It’s true. I said it. I don’t really want to leave.

The university has been my home for six years. For those who graduate within three, four, five years (or more), that is a significant chunk of your life during your most formative years as a young adult. Though I can’t say I’ve slept overnight in Science Theatres, I can say that I’ve stayed till midnight, cried in a professor’s office, and found solace in the emptiness of Craigie Hall’s sixth floor. My literal blood, sweat, and tears are here (okay, maybe not the blood), and it’s going to be tough to say goodbye to the parental familiarity of the university halls.

I entered the University of Calgary as a 17 year old student who thought she just wanted to be an English major and publish her books until she became as famous as J.K. Rowling. How would I know that four years down the road I would take a Co-operative Education position that would change my career goals? That my passion for writing wouldn’t subside, but would evolve to take on new writing styles and formats? University has taught me that I knew nothing when I first entered it. Thanks to university, I know that when I graduate, I will still know nothing about my life that I’ve been so carefully trying to craft.

Readiness comes in that strange in-between space of being ready and unready at the same time.

There’s no rule of thumb concerning when you’re ready to graduate. I’ve romanticized my time here at the university, but not everyone experiences this same level of attachment. I just know that when you’re ready to graduate, you won’t really know. Not because you have some deep-seeded hatred for your classes, or because it’s just time. Readiness comes in that strange in-between space of being ready and unready at the same time. It’s a contradiction, but in its best form.


Joanne is an English/Communications Studies student whose favourite drink is a Tim Hortons white hot chocolate with a chai tea bag. If she could have any job, she would be a street photographer who only takes photos of random dogs.