St Andrews Traditions: Part 3 Graduation

Carley St Andrews Traditons

The end of this month marks the two year anniversary of something bitter-sweet to me – my graduation from the University of St Andrews. June 2010 brought my graduation – with all the pomp and ceremony that included, from not having a mortorboard (they’re not used at St Andrews) to missing what should have been my final formal event in the town – the Graduation Ball.

For people looking for information about the St Andrews Graduation Ball 2012, you can find a FAQ here. In essence, the ball begins at 8pm and runs until ‘late’ (last year it ended at 2pm), all bars are cash only and there is a cloakroom. There is food too – bacon and sausage rolls, chocolate fountain and ice cream – all of which is free! I’ll be there this evening – can’t wait! 

Graduation in St Andrews is a big deal – as I’m sure it is for other graduating students around the UK. All Summer graduation ceremonies take place over a one week period in mid June, with two ceremonies each day, Monday through Friday. When I graduated two years ago, the Philosophy class graduated on Friday afternoon – but the dates of the ceremonies change year on year, depending on how large different departments are.

Carley in St Andrews on the day she graduated, wearing her gown, with the Castle in the background

Carley on her graduation day, with hood and gown, in St Salvator's Quad

I had a wonderful time on the day I graduated. I had my hair done first thing in the morning, before having photos taken (I opted not to go for the ‘traditional’ graduation poses, they really weren’t me!) with my family and then had lunch at my work, where they gave me a bottle of bubbles to celebrate with.

I then headed off to Younger Hall for my graduation ceremony – the final one of the week! Students enter Younger Hall from the side entrance, whilst parents and onlookers enter from the front and take their seats. Then all almost-grads sit in rows, by department and then by surname. Each row is lead up to the stage, with their gown hoods over their arms. (My gown was pink / magenta, as I was an arts students. Science students have an even cooler pink hood with a fur trim!). When your name is called, you walk across the stage to whoever is presiding over the ceremony. You pass your hood up to the person, and kneel down at the step in front of them. They bop you on the head with a piece of fabric which is supposedly a piece of John Know’s trousers. (This part is really a little questionable, but just go with it, just for the day). As they do this, they’ll either say a really long passage of Latin (if you’re the first one to graduate), or just say ‘et super te’ (and you also), before putting your hood gown over your head. That’s it! All you do after that is grab your degree certificate and exit to stage right!

Carley at the University of St Andrews Students' Association Honorary Life Membership presentation ceremony

After my grad ceremony, and the garden party I shared with some much loved friends, I had a further ceremony! The Students’ Association had a ceremony for graduates who had been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the association. I was granted my HLM card, which means that I can still get into the union – for the rest of my life! Unfortunately, however, I had a few too many glasses of bubbles, and I actually missed my own Graduation Ball! (More on this story, and about other important balls in my St Andrews history, another time.)

Carley at the St Andrews Graduation Ball 2011

The societies girls - before the St Andrews Graduation Ball 2011

However, the Graduation Ball in St Andrews is a big and much loved event. I went to Grad Ball the year before my graduation (with much loved friend KC) and went last year, to see off some friends who were a year younger than me. Stacey and I are even heading through to St Andrews next week, to go to Grad Ball with our friend Terry, who is graduating late. We’re both really looking forward to it – hopefully, will be able to post some pictures once it’s complete for another year!

Girls before the St Andrews Graduation Ball 2009
This was 2009 – look at the colour of my hair!



2 Comment

  1. […] I really don’t need anymore. I’m planning on selling some of my old dresses from the balls and formals at St Andrews online – there are a few places which offer ‘sell clothes for cash deals’, and […]

  2. Emma says: Reply

    John Knox’s trousers I think. I loved that tradition.

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