By Elizabeth Guilen
My parents have been looking forward to the day I walk at commencement and receive
my college degree. I have dreamt about the ceremony for the past five years.
Well, I’m finally graduating on May 18.
But, I’m not walking.
“Are you really not going to walk?” my mom said rhetorically when I told her. “Do you have any idea what this means to our family? You’re the first to attend college.”
Yes, I know how important it is. But I refuse to give more money to the university. The cheapest graduation package, which includes the cap and gown and the tassel, is about $163.
My fellow graduates have told me this is a once in a lifetime experience. But, the closer it gets, the more convinced I am that sitting in the sun for hours to get my minute of recognition is not worth it. Everyone should be able to participate, not only those who can afford it.
I spent six years on this campus completing my two degrees. I have the right to be selfish about graduation. To me, the ceremony is more about everyone but the graduate.
Dr. Carol Williams-Nickelson wrote for the American Psychology Association on
whether a college graduate should participate in the ceremony. Williams-Nickelson explained that the decision we make affects more than just the individual.
“My advice: think about how the decisions you make related to graduation may impact you and others in the future, as well as now,” wrote Williams-Nickelson.
My parents are devastated that I’m not participating. I know this is a blow to them and I tried to convince myself that spending a bit more would be worth it. Unfortunately, my student loans won this battle.
Family and friends try to use my 2-year- old son as a reason for me to be a part of the celebration.
“He will look back at graduation pictures and feel pride in seeing you in your cap and gown with him in your arms,” they say.
Nice try folks. My kid will be proud of me regardless because I completed my degrees.
This month I am completing my undergraduate journey and it is a relief. I can finally breathe knowing I have accomplished what many have not. I finished with a toddler, a job and as a full-time student.
It was difficult, and I agree, I should walk and enjoy the moment. However, I am broke.
CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White stated that this coming school year tuition will not go up. That’s great for students who are still in the institution, but this is meaningless to me. This semester I spent about $6,000 on my education. All of that was out of pocket. I have no savings, so yeah there’s no way I’m spending more money to have my name read out loud.
No one can make me believe that a ceremony that quickly acknowledges my years in this school is more important than all the work I have done.