Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To buy or not to buy...

Every year when we hit the graduation extravaganza, I contemplate buying academic regalia. I hate trying to remember to order robes, going to get them, and remembering to return them. I have a skill set...this kind of minutiae just isn't part of that skill set!

A colleague of mine who is in her 60s bought a brand new set of regalia. Her husband joked with her and asked if she planned to be buried in them. My partner wagers that she was tired of her original robes--pretty old and worn by this point--and that she couldn't imagine renting robes for the next 6-10 years.


As all of you academic-types know, those suckers are expensive. They average between $400-600 just for the robe, with extra expense for the hood and the cap. I had no money to afford robes when I graduated, and neither did my mom. I rented a gown, borrowed a cap, and only bought the hood.

I have heard that some schools pay for robes for their new hires--a nice perk for a young faculty member, and a good way to start a new job. Needless to say, I never worked at one of those schools.

I couldn't have afforded them before now, but I have recently considered using some (well, all) royalty money from my book to pay for them. Of course, that is money I could easily use some other way...say, a vacation, home repairs, or even conference travel money.

So far in my academic career, I have attended 11 years of graduations and hoodings, including my own doctoral hooding. At $20 per year, I have spent $220 in rentals. A few more decades, and I will have paid for the regalia. I cannot see waiting until I am in my 60s to buy some.

So, should I go ahead and make the purchase? Has anyone bought them and regretted it? Any recommendations on where to get it?

7 comments:

sherishu said...

Hey--I am totally with you and want to buy regalia, too. It's just that I always think of other ways I want to spend the $$ they cost. My institution pays for rental, so there's no huge incentive for me to fork over the money except for the convenience factor. I keep wondering if it's worth it or not...

Barb said...

My parents bought me my robes for graduation and they are awesome. I love putting them on, the richness of them, the sense that I am part of an elite group, the visual representation of a long difficult task completed.

I know I didn't spend the money for them originally, but I would replace mine if they looked horrible.

Dr. Crazy said...

Like Barb, I got my regalia from my parents for my PhD graduation present. I'll say this though: I only asked for them because I had a t-t job in the pipeline, so I knew that i'd "need" them. Now, I love my regalia (which is glorious and colorful) but if you don't care about getting brand new regalia from your PhD granting institution, I have two suggestions (which make the cost go way down). 1) Do you have any colleagues who are retiring or who won't (for some reason) need their regalia? You can buy it off them for like 100 bucks and just wear your hood with it. Another option: Ebay. People do sell their used doctoral regalia. If you don't care about having special regalia, this is a good way to go.

Now, I'm glad that I've got my PhD granting uni's special regalia (for it is a lovely and distinctive in its color), but I'd NEVER have bought it for myself, and I'd never have suggested my parents buy it if I hadn't got a job before defending. Yes, I love that my robes are blue in a sea of black, but that would not have been worth the cost if I hadn't known from the get-go that I'd be wearing them for 30+ years.

So yes, buy regalia. But no, don't buy regalia full price brand new if you only are thinking about not wanting to rent and the price of that.

Anonymous said...

I got mine as a present from my parents....Jostens was 1/2 the cost of my institution - about $400 for everything: gown, hood, cap. Check them out.

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