The Faculty of Management and Law graduations took place last week. I like graduations. There is something really quite special about watching your students walk across that stage, shaking hands with the (in this case) Vice Chancellor and collecting their certificates. It’s the end of a journey we have been privileged to be part of and the start of a much bigger journey for them. You can feel the sense of excitement, the sense of a future to come.
This year, like every year, I feel a little lost after graduation. It’s not that I don’t have anything to do – I am weeks behind with my own work, my inbox is out of control and there is next academic year to get prepared for. I miss those students leaving us, I sort of miss the last academic year and I can’t quite bring myself to really focus on the new academic year. I’m inbetween. I suspect this time of year used to be real academic downtime and that downtime is being eroded. You can now find academics on campus between the end of June and end of September and mostly they are quite harassed academics. The academic hamster wheel seems relentless. We finish teaching, we finish marking, we finish exam boards, we finish revision sessions, we finish re-sit marking, we finish re-sit exam board and suddenly it is August and we’re into clearing, then induction, then teaching… repeat…
But that downtime is important, really important. More important that I had really registered before. We need to be able to recharge our batteries, we need to be able to take time to reflect on the academic year just gone by and we need time to prepare ourselves mentally (as well as practically) for the new academic year. We need time to think, to read, to do nothing, to think about what the next year will bring, what we want to achieve and we need time to plan and we need time just to be.
So, my post-graduation lull comes at a time where I really don’t have time for it but then I never do. My job seems ever more relentless (if it is possible to be more relentless) so I am embracing the lull whether I have time for it or not. I’m just allowing myself to drift for a week, to just see what happens, to do the things I want to do, minimise the crappy paperwork as much as possible, reduce the hours to a more manageable level and to put the last academic year behind me and get ready to be part of a whole set of new journeys and dreams.