The reality of graduating during a pandemic

Graduating during a pandemic is unprecedented. Photo from North Text Daily

The last time I walked to campus was a sunny Wednesday. Reporting & Writing I — a sophomore class that I neglected to take until my junior year — began in 15 minutes, and I was 25 minutes out, at the least. Normally, I would have arrived on time, but this day I slept through my alarms, which led me to miss the Venom Shuttle. So I was running late, the air was muggy and I barely glanced up as I walked to campus.

If only I’d known that the ordinary Wednesday I spent on campus would have been the last, I wouldn’t have been late.

Relationships end with breakups, jobs end with quitting or firing, and college is one of the few aspects of life that ends with a new start. Or at least I’d thought.

According to theWorld Bank, the global economy is set to experience the deepest recession since World War Two.

More than 90,000 Americans have died, tens of millions are out of work, massive companies are struggling and graduates are entering into what could become one of the hardest job markets in decades.

Graduation is often an anxious time for students because it marks the beginning of a new era, but COVID-19 has created new uncertainties.

The pandemic has left me scrambling to figure out what’s next. Optimism is one of the most important things we have during times like these, but quite honestly, I find myself slipping back into old habits of depression and anxiety that I felt I’d beat.

The 2019 Stress in America annual survey from the American Psychological Association found that “zoomers” report the highest average stress level of any generation, with work and money the two most significant sources of stress.

At first, I was going to graduate school, but right now I can’t motivate myself to go. I’m just done with school in general, and I feel like I’m not learning anything; I’m just plugging in the answers to my homework and forgetting about it.

Rather than celebrating with friends, I’m worried about securing a job after graduation while also anticipating what the long-term effects of the pandemic will be, merely because the situation is so unprecedented.

The pandemic disrupted the events and festivities that I had hoped would mark the culmination of my undergraduate experience. Despite the gloomy outlook, I won’t let my internal monologue take over and crush my spirit.

The lessons I got out of the journey have not been altered, which I am grateful to have learned. Even though I’m not sure where to go next, I am hopeful and eager to see what a future could look like in a pandemic-ridden world.

Advice I’d share with current seniors during this difficult time is to stay resilient. We have to focus on what we can control and let go of what we can’t. By doing this we can continue to beat the odds and stay strong.