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5 essential tips for convocation

It’s time to put on your gown and collect that hard-earned diploma. Here’s how to get the most out of your day
By Sara DuBreuil


Exams are over. You’ve picked up your academic regalia. The valedictorians are polishing their pearls of wisdom. The honorands are recalling their educational experiences.

That’s right: convocation is on its way to Concordia.

Soon you’ll be walking across the stage at Place des Arts to collect a diploma you worked towards for years — and you’ll want that particular moment in the sun to go as smoothly as possible.

Sociology graduate and 2013 valedictorian Sophie Kräuchi combined forces with convocation veteran Pina Greco, the events coordinator with Enrolment Services, to provide some essential advice.

1. Be on time

Almost every person in the world has had one morning (or 10) when they’ve overslept and found themselves running from one place to another. If there is one day in your academic career when you don’t want this to happen, this is it.

You’ll need to show up at least an hour before the ceremony begins to find out exactly where you’re supposed to be, and then to line up to recieve your diploma on stage.

The ceremonies take place at Place des Arts which, while very elegant, happens to be in downtown Montreal. If you don’t want to risk a tough time parking, you can always do the green thing and take public transit, which will drop you off right at Place des Arts.

2. Dress for success

The key thing to keep in mind is that June in Montreal can get really, really hot and humid. Dress accordingly.

Your gown is heavy, and will be open in the front. For women, a summery dress or blouse are both safe bets. Guys may want to opt for a light shirt and tie. Bear in mind that, yes, people will see what you’re wearing underneath your regalia.

Then there’s the matter of footwear. Including the time it takes to get into position, ceremonies run about two and a half hours. So wear comfortable kicks. You don’t want to leave with your diploma in hand and blisters on your feet.

Kräuchi opted for low heels that felt good and looked sharp.

“You won't be walking a lot, but waiting in line to cross the stage seems like forever,” she says. “From what I was told, no one has ever fallen walking across stage, but you definitely don't want to be the first!”

Some graduates come up with the best possible convocation hairdo — but that’s optional. Concordia eschews mortarboards, so between a wash and a brush, you ought to be good to go.

3. Come prepared

In addition to yourself (and that light summer outfit), you’ll want to arrive at the ceremony with your marshalling card, your gown, your hood and your guests.

A coat check is available for students, but it doesn’t accept bags, so you’ll want to leave any valuables with your fan club in the audience.

When you’re thinking of what to bring to convocation, a good rule of thumb is that less is more. You’ll need both hands free when it’s time to receive the symbol of your hard work and academic accomplishment.

4. Plan for photos

Convocation is one of those major life events you’ll probably want to document.

There are plenty of places at and around Place des Arts that lend themselves to memorable shots, the fountains and staircases facing Ste. Catherine Street being the obvious ones.

If it rains, don’t fret: there are plenty of photogenic places inside, amid Place des Arts’ staircases and panoramic windows.

Rain or shine, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be abuzz with activity, so hashtag your photos #CUgrad and #CUalumni.

5. Take it all in

In its essence, convocation is about taking pride in your achievements — and having fun. “The most important thing to remember is to be happy,” Greco says. “Savour every moment.”

Kräuchi agrees. “Convocation is a huge day,” she says. “Enjoy it.”


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