Some people think it is hard to get into the LSE.
They obviously haven’t tried to get out yet.
~ Sanger, 2014
The LSE graduation ceremony is such a labyrinth of moving bits and pieces that there will soon be a course on how to navigate it – LSE 101: Graduation Studies!
I have approximately 10 emails with around 50 links that tell us what will happen, how it will happen, where it will happen, in what order it will happen, the pre-requisites, the post-requisites (is that a word?) and 10,000 other things.
In the interest of brevity and creating a record for posterity, here’s my definitive guide to navigating LSE graduation:
Step 0 – Find out when and where your graduation ceremony is
This is fairly straightforward, you receive an email stating the date, time and venue.
The ceremony dates are different for different departments and the timings also differ. So do NOT just tag along with your friend from another course!
Step 1: Register for extra tickets
As a graduand, you get a ticket for yourself and two guests. But if your siblings/grandparents/aunts/uncles are keen on attending the ceremony (it IS a big deal after all) and threaten to disown/excommunicate you if you don’t let them attend, then you must apply for extra tickets.
A couple of weeks after you receive the invitation for the ceremony, you will receive an email with the date and link for the page where you can register for extra tickets. It is important to mark this date in your calendar and book your tickets on the first day the list opens. Else, aforesaid disownment and excommunication will ensue.
Step 2: Book your academic dress
So you thought now that you have tickets, you will just turn up, collect your degree, smile for the cameras and be off, just like going for a movie eh? Wrong on all counts!
You cannot attend the graduation ceremony without wearing academic dress – basically the gown and hat with a particular streak of purple cloth draped just the right way.
Fair enough, you knew you’d have to wear the gown, you just thought you’d “get” it on the day. Well, my friend, add one more chapter in the daylight robbery that is London. You have to book your academic dress in advance with details such as the ‘circumference of your head’ at hand. This booking will cost you anywhere from GBP 50 to GBP 200 depending on whether you want to hire the gown for the event or buy it outright. (No, the gowns are not diamond studded.)
Note: Men may consider wearing an LSE colour tie or one that contrasts with the LSE purple for greater photogenic effect. The gowns are open at the front and the tie will be clearly visible in all photographs.
Step 3: Find out where you will get your REAL degree
Yes, you read that right. You will NOT be getting your real degree in the ceremony, but in a separate area before/after your ceremony. So you need to find out when and where else the entire 3/2/1 years have been for nothing. For this you will have to trawl through the numerous mails you will get closer to the event. Mine was in the Student Services Centre, first floor, if that helps.
Step 4: Register for the post ceremony photography session
During the ceremony, a professional photographer will capture the moment where you shake hands with the LSE Director. For the money shot, with you holding your degree like a boss, you need to throw spontaneity out the door and get a professional portrait done. You can register for this session earlier or head to Clement House after your ceremony to get it done. Again, pricey as hell, but hey, you will be unlocking some value from that GBP 50 you spent on the gown!
Step 5: Plan the graduation day itinerary
If, like me, your graduation ceremony is in the middle of the week with no possibility of going to LSE immediately before or after the ceremony day, you have a packed schedule ahead. My ceremony was at 10.45 am and my itinerary looked something like this:
9.30 am – Reach LSE
9.35 am – Collect degree from the room above Student Services Centre (SSC)
9.50 am – Collect ticket and guest tickets for the graduation ceremony from the SSC
10.15 am – Collect gown and hat. Put on gown and hat (SSC)
10.35 am – Run to the Peacock Theatre for the ceremony!
I think this worked out pretty well for me, but only because, thankfully, a lot of my batchmates arrived fairly early and thus I got very short queues (well done guys). But if you don’t want to look like a character from The Fast and the Furious, I suggest you go a bit earlier, especially if your ceremony is in the evening.
Step 6: Attend the ceremony
Fairly obvious, but considering how a couple of friends decided to skip the CEMS graduation ceremony and sight-see in Barcelona instead, I thought this might be useful.
The ceremony is very smooth and slick and lasts about an hour. Your ticket has your seat number and ushers will direct you to your seats. Graduands and guests sit separately. Each graduand also receives a name card (which includes any special mentions such as a distinction) that you need to hand over to the announcer as you step on the stage. Simple, effective, none of that ‘in-absentia’ stuff.
You go up on stage, shake the director’s hand, thank him, smile brightly or some such and you go back down. Oh and you cannot wear your hat on the stage – LSE tradition. And no refund requests are entertained by the gown and hat hire firm.
Step 7: Get photos taken with the LSE letters. Crash Facebook by uploading them like crazy
Now that the ‘serious’ part is over, you can go about having ‘fun’. This involves getting photos clicked in your exorbitantly priced gown.
Hug friends, hug family members. More photos. Mandatory hat throwing photo take 1. Mandatory hat throwing photo take 2. Mandatory hat throwing photo take 3 where the hat comes down and hits someone in the eye and then everybody stops throwing the hat.
You get LSE 20XX in large foam letters with which you can take photographs. The LSE Penguin and the LSE elephant outside the Student Services centre are also popular choices. Some poor guy in the LSE beaver costume is also accosted routinely – so visible yet so anonymous. Pause for irony.
Step 8: Collect your GBP 20,000 director hand-shaking shot from Clement House
So the aforementioned professional photographer has set up shop in Clement House to charge you an arm and a leg for the photo of you ‘graduating’. Pay the piper and get the photograph.
Step 9: Get your professional portrait done
Yes, the one you registered for earlier. Or perhaps did not.
Anyway, head over to the first floor of Clement House. Chin up, medium smile, cuffs slightly out, hands at 30 degrees, fake degree in place and click! Now go upload that photograph to Tinder to start pulling.
Step 10: Attend the department cocktail
If, like me, you have a morning ceremony, and if, like me, you are running late, and if, like me, you are terrified of spilling something on your suit before the ceremony, then, like me, you will probably be starving by this point. Time to head over to your department graduation cocktail and wolf down some canapés! There is also wine to wash them down with. You will find your programme director and other staff members there. If your results have met your expectations, this is a chance to thank them, if not, to poison them. So there is no reason to miss this event.
Energy cells replenished, you can go for another tour of photography with your preciously priced gown and hat – NAB, Saw Swee Hock, East Building, Clare Market Building, 32 Lincoln Inn Fields etc. Remember, the longer you keep the gown, the lesser it costs per hour.
Step 11: Buy LSE graduation memorabilia
Since you’ve saved money on the free food and drinks in the department cocktail, why not even things out by buying graduation memorabilia from the LSE SU shop? There’s usually an LSE hoodie with the names of all your batchmates on it that is quite popular.
Step 11: Wake up the next day (and every day after it) and yell ‘I DID IT!’
Hey Shrey, I read 2-3 blogs of yours. you sent me to THIS ‘utopian’ world of mine. UMMM…I was wondering if you could give me a l’il insight to getting ”INTO” LSE when you are telling about way to graduation! (sheepish smile)!!! I hope u will. Now to start with details I’m someone who’s not at all acknowledged about the entrance or way to go ahead or my eligibility for the school or pre-requisites/post-requisites. (:P is that a word? 😀 ) The only thing I have is a dream to do a majors in Economics in LSE. (Yes i know you doing some management programme.)
I’m currently doing Bcom honours from a “NOT SO ELITE” college in India. My academic score is…ummm i would say better than average but less than best. Can you help with even the slightest you know? *HOPEFUL*