Graduation Advice

KCL School of Biomedical and Health Sciences BSc gown. Orange. Bleh.

I’ve just finished the final year of my undergraduate degree and thus am due to graduate soon. Not knowing what to expect I put a call out on Facebook asking for advice on the subject and listed below are the fruits of my social networking. Many thanks to Richard Byrne, Clare Huxley, Tulpesh Patel and Bartek Podkowa and especially Christine Campbell, who’s done this so many times she’s could write the Wikipedia page single-handedly.


  • Bring safety pins, or better yet normal dressmakers pins, to fix your gown securely;
  • Pin your hood to the shoulders of your gown;
  • Make sure you get a hat that fits, if it doesn’t fit ask for another.

Female specific advice:

  • Order your gown 4″ shorter than your actual height, to avoid it dragging on the ground and achieve “a nice perky length that’s more level with your smart knee length skirt” (Christine Campbell, 2011);
  • Coloured tights will look frumpy;
  • Go with the standard black knee-length skirt, white shirt, skin coloured tights and black courts with a small heel;
  • The hood will hang better if you wear a suit jacket, as it’s designed for a male, but it will get toasty;
  • Do not pin the hood to the front of your shirt or you’ll graduate with a bare navel;
  • Bring hairpins to secure your mortar board;
  • Wear your hair down so the mortar board sits correctly;
  • Things to avoid if you’d prefer not to look like a stripper:
    • Shoes with ankle straps;
    • Short skirt and high heels – the skirt won’t be visible under the gown;
    • Fishnets.

The actual process:

  • Don’t look at the steps when you approach the stage;
  • Look at the face of the person you’re supposed to go towards;
  • No one trips, so don’t worry about it.
  • Don’t bother with the commemorative video;
  • However, the photos are worth it;
  • If meeting friends, arrange to do so close to the exit;
  • Speak to your lecturers, because they will probably have something pleasant to say to your friends and family;
  • Throw your hat if you feel the urge, don’t worry about it getting lost as the gowning company won’t notice who has/hasn’t returned theirs.

Just good advice:

  • Pee beforehand;
  • Factor in an excessive amount of faffing-about time;
  • Turn up to the correct graduation e.g. double check whether it’s the Royal Albert Hall or the Royal Festival Hall that you’re supposed to be going to.
If you have anything to add stick it in the comments and I’ll update the post.

4 thoughts on “Graduation Advice

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