Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School.

Column: The pageantry of graduation

Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School

For some of us, high school was the best years of our life, and for others, years could be better summed up as a garbage fire.

Regardless, it’s one of the few places in life that if you work hard for years on end, inevitably you’re forced to leave. It’s also a pretty weird time that doesn’t exactly prepare you for the rest of life. But in terms of all the crazy stuff that happens, the weirdest part by far is finally graduating.

Now when most people think of graduating from high school, they think of their family crying about their little baby all grown up as they walk across the stage, or dancing all night at prom with their best friends in the world and throwing their graduation cap up in the air and catching it perfectly while a song from Disney’s High School Musical plays in the background. Which, as funny as that all seems, it’s only about half of the story.

The graduation ceremony, a time to honour the effort and dedication of the graduates as we walk across the stage and into adulthood. But you see, the fine line between deserved celebration and over-the-top pageantry starts getting pretty blurry here. Why yes, we all dress up in our finest rented gowns and cardboard hats and sit waiting for our turn to shake our beloved mentors’ hands and receive our diploma. Except it isn’t our diploma. Those come in the mail sometime in July. No, on graduation night what we are handed is merely a slip of paper reminding us to return our rented gown.

READ MORE: Student view: The differences dividing us all

Then we all file out of the auditorium to whatever song was dutifully chosen by a group of teenagers. I’m not certain what song it will be for me, however, last year’s class left to the song from the opening of Shrek. And as hilarious as that all certainly is, what comes after graduation is no laughing matter. And no, I am not referring to the dress I have picked out for prom. What I am talking about is the confusing mess that is a university. Or more specifically, applying to a university.

I want you to imagine you’re designing a website for a university. It needs to be able to evaluate thousands of prospective students, allow those students to apply for hundreds of possible classes and also let these people, that have never had an apartment before, rent a small one-bedroom box that they’ll share with a total stranger. Now I want you to imagine that you’re paranoid about being rejected by everybody so you have to navigate six of these confusing monstrosities. That, in broad strokes, is applying for university.

READ MORE: Student view: People you’ve never met, affecting your life in ways you never thought

If I’m being more specific about what filling out a university application is really like though, the closest analogy I can draw is that it’s like selling a used car; except you’re the 2001 Kia Optima with 500,000 kilometres. And just like selling a used car, you stretch the good things and avoid talking about the crackling noise the engine keeps making, the mouse that lives in the passenger seat or the fact that it’s constantly late for all its classes … I mean oil changes.

Overall, graduating from high school is an odd process, and nothing can really prepare you for it. It’s busy and stressful and has a little extra pageantry thrown in for flavour. With that in mind, I’d give it four out of five stars, for being annoying but necessary if I ever want to move out of my parent’s basement.

Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School.

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