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A Guide To Returning To Your Alma Mater During Commencement

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Obviously, graduation season is upon us. Of all the milestones we’ve watched the undergrads reach throughout the year, this is probably the only one that actually reassures us postgrads. Finally, those lucky little bastards still at State U–or Liberal U in my case–are going to come upon the end of those glorious years. We will gain more minions in our postgrad army. I mean, misery loves company, right? So as you watch the end unfold on the ‘book, ‘gram, and Twitter, remind yourself to be merciful to those going through it. Remember that although their uncurbed hubris will probably ignite another mental debate about swan diving off your company’s roof, they’ll be down in the darkest circle of hell right there with you within a week of leaving campus. Pity them.

Do not forget to take advantage of this opportunity. By that, I mean head on back. My parents luckily live within 30 miles of my school, so a trip home is usually synonymous with a trip back to campus. This year’s reunion and commencement weekend will be no exception to that trend. I’m sure you’re thinking, “But Mary, don’t you look like a sketch ball returning to campus frequently and especially on a weekend that celebrates those graduating?” The answer is yes and no, of course. Many schools host reunions the same weekend as commencement. This creates the perfect environment to return without sticking out like a sore, washed up thumb. Take advantage. Here are some things to keep in mind when returning for this shitshow of a weekend.

Tell Everyone You’re Returning For A Networking Event
I get shit on Twitter an average of 1.37 times a day for “not letting go.” I accept it. I’m getting better every day. If I admitted that I was returning to school during graduation to relive the glory days, I’m pretty sure I’d never hear the end of it. Plus, what does it look like to your employer? Oh, I’m just taking a day off because I’m going back to watch graduation? Ha, no. Tell them you’re participating in a mentoring workshop on campus so you can help out the soon-to-be postgrads in the professional world. No one needs to know the only advice you can give them is to invest in a lint roller. Also, be sure to tell your friends and really anyone that there’s a pretty legit networking event going on. In reality, this is half true. You most certainly won’t be the only alum there getting rocked like the olden days. I’d count that as networking any day.

Take Advantage Of All The Free Shit
Graduation is usually full of school-sanctioned parties and events. Hit up all of them. Every one of them: champagne on the lawn, cocktails in the student center, a buffet at the dining hall. Don’t miss one. Bring some tools to help you sneak it all out later. No one is going to even approach you and question your attendance. There is always 37 family members for every kid who’s a first generation college student or a legacy, so just piggyback on one of them. Don’t forget to take advantage of any lodging the school organizes. My school offers dorm rooms right in the middle of campus to alumni coming for the weekend. If you don’t have any young, hot babe to shack up with, this might be a good alternative. Just remember, strides of pride are 10 times more humiliating when you don’t even go there anymore. At least bring some camo.

Don’t Be The Drunkest Kid At The Party
Unless there’s a good squadron of your classmates returning, you have no business being the drunkest kid. Your party ended a year (or more) ago. This is tough, because you clearly need to assert your competence and show that you’re still hip and cool (you’re not) but it isn’t cool to kick kids off the keg so you can gargoyle at 6 p.m. If you feel like you’re getting too drunk to taste this chicken, move on to the next scene so you can buy yourself some more time before people start to give you the “Do you still go here?” pity look.

Inflate Your Status (And Life)
When people you know inevitably recognize you regardless of the sunglasses and baseball hat, just act as if you have it all going on. There’s no need to spoil their weekend by telling them you only listen to Sufjan Stevens now and have three whole recipes in your repertoire–they’ll find out how much they want to play in traffic soon enough. However, it’s pretty important that until this point comes, you should probably give off the impression that your life is awesome, you’re killing it, you only came back for the camaraderie and support (LOL). Tell them you’re an executive vice president or some bullshit. By the time they LinkedIn you, they’ll be out in the real world and will completely understand why you lied to their faces two weeks prior. Say things like “exposed brick,” “club membership,” and “time to volunteer” a lot. I’m pretty sure everyone will be too drunk to call you out.

Don’t Actually Go To The Ceremony
Remember your graduation speaker? Remember how inspiring he or she would have been had you not been throwing up in your shoes? Yeah, if you go this time and listen to them tell those kiddies how important they are and how much of a difference they’re going to make, you’re most definitely going to be that asshole who pulls the overzealous, obnoxious scoff that shows how ridiculous the speech is. Don’t be that person. Just don’t.

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Mary Swanson

Both a bitter and optimistic 24-year-old entry-level underachiever with 2-4 friends and 0 talents. Washed up is an understatement. I prefer almost all my food luke-warm, what does that say about me?

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