Graduation Checklist

By Jessica Hochstadt

May is a bittersweet month for Boston graduate students. The dreary snow and rain has ended, finals are almost over, and Sam Adams Summer Ale is finally on store shelves. Yet, we find ourselves scrambling to enjoy this month, as we spend most of our time looking for jobs, housing, internships, and, for those of us who are graduating, responding to Lori Ioannone’s “Graduation Checklist” emails.

As “Pomp and Circumstance” plays in my mental soundtrack, I find myself reviewing these emails with dread. Have I purchased my cap and gown? Completed the internship form? Filled out the appropriate class exemption forms? Finished all the class requirements for my degree?

Is this how anyone wants to remember their last few weeks as a student? Not me.

I propose a better graduation checklist than the one filling your inbox. The following is a list of activities for graduate students, Boston students, and Jumbos to complete before graduating.

Graduate Students: There are a number of perks to being a grad student that undergraduates do not get to enjoy: calling your professor by his/her first name, more flexibility with assignment deadlines, and a plethora of research opportunities. Most of these benefits continue well beyond graduation. Others are fleeting. Take the opportunity to complete the following before putting on that graduation cap:

  1. Student discounts: Boston is an academic mecca; many of its venues cater to students by offering discounted rates for certain events. The Boston Ballet (www.bostonballet.org) is known for excellent shows with affordable student rates. Many museums waive their entrance fees for students. And of course, school seminars are free and you can choose from a number of illustrious universities to attend.
  2. Check-ups: Many students have health insurance through their respective universities. Others are still covered under their parents’ policies. Regardless of which insurance route you take, the road is quickly coming to an end. Before it does, take the opportunity to get that last check-up, final tooth filling, and finish up with your therapist. Because who knows when you will find that perfect job and your health benefits with resume?
  3. Free gym: Gym memberships in Boston cost anywhere between $10 to $150 a month. Personal trainers are equally as expensive. Most schools have free gyms for students. Tufts has two gyms—in the basement of Sackler and on the Medford campus—which offer great exercise classes for little or no cost. The classes range from relaxing yoga to kick-ass cardio. While our graduation gowns certainly hide extra bulge, eventually you’ll want to take it off (both the gown and the bulge). Get in shape now and try to maintain it until you can afford to join a gym again.

Boston Students: I remember getting my undergraduate acceptance letter from Tufts in the spring of 2004 and feeling so lucky to move to Boston and leave Miami Beach behind. I have since realized the error of my ways. Wherever the future takes us, Boston certainly has much to offer that other cities lack. Take the opportunity to complete the following before putting on that graduation gown:

  1. Salem: In the 1600’s, the women (and some men) of Salem, Mass. were executed for suspicions of practicing witchcraft. Today, we know that having a pet cat doesn’t make a person a witch (having green skin, though, does). Since the infamous Witch Trials, the town of Salem has morphed into a memorial for those who were burned at the stake. It hosts of number of historical museums recounting the events of that fateful period in history, as well as some less factual, exhibits: Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, vampire and pirate museums, villain wax museums, etc. While Halloween is certainly the best time to visit Salem, any gloomy day there will still give you the creeps.
  2. Samuel Adams Brewery Tour: Samuel Adams is an award-winning beer that is native to Boston. The brewery opens their doors daily to visitors who want a tour of their facility. There, you can learn about the brewing process, taste beer, and even leave with a small Samuel Adams tasting glass. The best part of the tour— it’s free! Few breweries are as candid as Samuel Adams, and even less offer tours of their facilities.
  3. Picnic at Boston Common: Boston Common is a rare beauty among the hustle and bustle tourist traps of downtown Boston. Consider it the Central Park of Boston, with less filth and easier to navigate. The history of Boston Common is an interesting one—it used to be the hanging site for criminals in the colonial days of Boston. In fact, when construction began on the underground train station, workers reported finding remains of hundreds of bodies. Today, Boston Common is an open green space where many come to study, play sports, or ice-skate in the winter. As long as you try not to think about the fact that you might be sitting on the bones of dead criminals, a picnic in Boston Common makes for quite an enjoyable afternoon. Whatever you do, don’t walk through the park at night; criminals (live ones) still hang there… figuratively speaking.

Tufts Students: As a Double Jumbo (for those of you who still don’t know, Jumbo is our mascot), I have spent six years at Tufts. This has provided me with ample opportunity to fulfill my duties as a Jumbo, and get into all sorts of trouble doing it. Some Tufts traditions are specific to the season, like the Naked Quad Run before finals and sledding down the President’s lawn in the winter. Unfortunately, running around campus in the buff is something that is only acceptable once a year, and the time has passed. Fortunately, there are other Tufts traditions that can be fulfilled year-round, and don’t require supervision from law enforcement. Take the opportunity to complete the following before moving that tassel from one side of your cap to the other:

  1. Painting the Cannon: The cannon has been a fixture on the Tufts campus since 1956. Not accidentally, it points towards Harvard. For decades, Tufts students have participated in the tradition of painting the cannon to promote school events, express their artistic talents, or embarrass a good friend. The catch is, you have to guard it all night lest someone else should come and paint over your work. Don’t have a full night to spare? No problem. Painting the cannon has become such an important part of Tufts that people can do it virtually (http://www.paintthecannon.com/).
  2. Pennies for Jumbo: If you have never been on the Medford campus, then you have never seen the life-size statue of an elephant by Barnum Hall. Before this statue existed, the actual stuffed carcass of Jumbo the elephant (star of P.T. Barnum’s circus, and a personal favorite to the Tufts trustee and benefactor before it was killed by an oncoming train in Ontario) was on display in what was at the time the Barnum Museum. Students adopted Jumbo as their mascot, put pennies on his trunk, and pulled his tail for good luck before athletic events and exams. The tradition continued even after Barnum Hall burned down, and with it, the Jumbo pachyderm. Today, students put pennies on the statue of Jumbo, like they did years ago. (And it still works!)
  3. A Kiss on the Library Roof: Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but the romance is still alive. At least, on the Tisch Library roof in Medford.  Students go there to enjoy the best view of the Boston skyline. And when it is too dark to do that, they find other ways to enjoy the library roof. It has long been a tradition to have a kiss on the library roof. For those of you with a significant other, head to the library roof for a quick peck. (Nothing too inappropriate please, there will be other people there.) If you find yourself single at the moment, the library roof is a great place to meet people! And since you will already be there…

Done and Done

For those of you who are not graduating this May, consider this a “To Do” list. Put it on your cork board and check off each completed activity. For the rest of you, you have 23 days to complete these tasks. In the meantime, save “Pomp and Circumstance” for May 23rd. Until then, I recommend Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” on repeat.

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