This post brought to you by my intense desire to avoid grading any more papers.
More than a dozen years ago, when I earned my Ph.D. in chemistry, I made what many at the time viewed as a financially reckless decision and purchased academic regalia rather than just renting it.
At the time, there was apparently just one company who even made the regalia for the university from which I earned my degree. Given their monopoly, they could charge a bundle — almost $600 — for the gown, hood, and mortarboard. (Despite the price, I would also argue that the uniform still needed modifications to be fully functional.)
Renting Ph.D. regalia at that time was around $60. Clearly I was looking to prolong my state of grad student-like poverty?
Actually, part of what persuaded me to buy the regalia was that I knew, by the time the graduation ceremony had rolled around, that I was going to be doing another Ph.D. at the same university, and that I had probably narrowed by career prospects to being a professional academic or needing a distinctive schtick with which to panhandle. By the time I was closing in on my Ph.D. in philosophy, there were other players in the regalia biz, and I was able to purchase a new hood (with coloration indicating my degree in philosophy) a la carte for a mere $100. That puts my regalia investment at $700.*
This morning, I started tallying the occasions on which I have worn my regalia:
- two of my own graduations
- three SJSU commencements
- three SJSU welcome convocations
- two SJSU honors convocations
- SJSU Founders Day earlier this month
That’s eleven wearings of my purchased regalia. If we estimate that rentals would have hovered around $60 a pop, that would be $660.
And this Saturday I’ll be wearing it to one more commencement, putting the cost if I were renting ($720) just a bit higher than my $700 investment. I am vindicated!
Vindicated or not, I now return to the grading.
*If we want to get picky, it’s a bit more than that, as I had it dry cleaned once, and I spent a little bit on fasteners to do the retrofit last year.