The atmosphere was intense! The ceremony went smoothly! Friends whom I had not seen for a year were present! Parents were abundant! The rented hall was amassed with thousands of proud parents wanting to catch a glimpse of their children in badly designed robes and square hats! Yet, I felt nothing...
After having to wait more than a year in order to graduate, I hardly felt any overwhelming emotion as I stepped up to the Dean to collect an empty folder. As I bowed to the Chancellor and went down the stage, I walked in a trance, not even breathing in the energy packed atmosphere or even acknowledging the fact that I have actually graduated!
Truth be told, it felt empty to be attending my own graduation after having been through almost a year of corporate exposure. I felt even more indifferent at the fact that I've actually graduated, feeling that I have not achieved much during my Uni years to be bestowed such an honour.
But looking back in time, this was the moment I had lived for, the moment that I spent 11 years studying for! So much so, I was confused by my lack of emotion at my achievement! But can I really blame myself? After all, it wasn't me who lowered the quality of education, and the prestige of a degree. It wasn't me who made sure that thousands of youths graduate every year!
Education has become such a trivial thing these days. More than half of these people would not have graduated if the standards were as high as they were 20 years ago. More than half of them would not have gotten a place in Uni, in the first place. And if that's not enough, half of these people have to wait a year to get their degrees after completing their studies. Imagine telling that to your potential employer!
Anyone can get a degree these days. If the standards are the same as they were 20 years ago, then does this mean that everyone is significantly smarter? If so, why are there more cases of unwanted pregnancies, teenage delinquency and whatnots? Does an increase in intelligence somewhat causes a decrease in common sense and morals?
Standing among so many people, I seriously wondered if I earned my degree. Having worked in the industry for almost a year, I could see where I stand, and I questioned myself on the quality of my work compared to those of my peers without degrees. The difference is hardly there. And when you look at the amount you're being paid, as a fresh grad, you sometimes wonder if having a degree is only for the sole purpose of landing a job meant for a form five school leaver.
Indeed, sad as it may sound, it's true that my convocation was nothing more than a formal reunion with old friends. I guess maybe the novelty of graduating wore off after more than a year of waiting. Perhaps, having found a job and learning to live on your own has made the whole process insignificant! Or maybe, it is the feeling that having a degree is as common as having an SPM certificate.
Whichever it may be, I was not too estatic with the whole event. The excitement of taking photographs for memory's sake was not there. The sad partings and farewells were absent, since all my friends were still keeping contact with me. The congratulatory wishes were nothing more than a casual handshake. And when I present my resume to a potential employer, all I an show him/her when he/she asks for my degree, is a piece of plastic which contains information about my education. An e-scroll.
Yes, technology has caught up as well. Instead of scrolls, which we can hang proudly in the hall (now you can find them on almost any hall of any home you visit) we have a cd-rom which contains information of our Uni results, as well as the ability to reprint as many scrolls as we like!
So try as I might, I still could not feel much happiness or excitement at the prospect of graduating. Perhaps, time has taken it's toll on me. Perhaps, it was the design of the robes. Perhaps, it was the ceremony. Or maybe, degrees are so saturated these days, and taken for granted, that all we ever need to show someone that we are graduates, is a piece of plastic with our names on it!