I think we can all agree that completing a college degree is a huge accomplishment no matter the specific experience you had or what your degree it is in. Just in general, the idea that you completed something. You completed something that you have been striving towards since, well since, Kindergarten. After completing at least 16 years of schooling, you deserve to feel accomplished.
Most of that accomplishment is felt when you are walking across that stage, in your cap and gown, and receiving that diploma. Class of 2020 never felt that. I never felt that. And I’m still dealing with the grief. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop grieving the fact that I never got to cross that stage. That I never got to wear a cap and gown.
I’m beyond happy for the Class of 2021. I’m thrilled that we have learned how to live in a pandemic and find a safe way to celebrate these milestones. I am honored to hear that the administration has found a way to make this happen for 2021.
But I am hurt that this didn’t happen for us in any sort of way. Some would say Class of 2020 never got closure or that we were screwed. I agree with this.
Honestly, I think this is affecting our mental health in more ways than anyone saw coming. I don’t blame anyone for the pandemic or the regulations or anything that happened between March through May of 2020 that caused us not to walk. But I am blaming the administration for not finding a true way to celebrate us.
In all fairness, they did give us a drive-up graduation (that I did not attend as it was my wedding day). Another big milestone and accomplishment that obviously trumped being at a drive-up, makeshift “graduation.” I put this in quotes because it wasn’t graduation.
I think the worst part of the whole scenario is graduation is not only a time of achievement, but also the last day you say goodbye to your friends. This was going to be the day where we were able to say, “Best wishes”; “Good luck on your future”; “You are going to kill it out there.”
But we didn’t get this. And months before we were torn from our friends, our college family, the people we grew up with the past four years to study online, not knowing if or when we would see them again.
We never got to say goodbye. We never got to celebrate. We never got to feel accomplished. And this truly hurts and it is hard. It is hard to just be pushed into the world.
You have a degree, now what?
But to be pushed into a world that is unknown and unconquered due to the pandemic and to feel alone is worse. The worst is all of that but no sense of achievement after four dedicated, hardworking years.