University has come to an end for many final year undergraduates this week, during an unprecedented time. Whilst it has not been the end many of us envisaged, it is still a big moment. It is one that needs marking. I hope that everyone got the results that they wanted. There is no doubt that this has been a difficult time for students of all ages. The rites of passage have been missed and whilst this is no one’s fault, there is no denying that it feels hard.
We have missed out on our graduation. Missed that last club night dancing to thunderous beats. We never got to have the last library session, pretending to hate all the books and research we secretly loved. Most importantly, we never got to say goodbye to friends, lecturers, and the university lifestyle we had become accustomed too. All that has been taken away from us, and yet this unprecedented time needs to be remembered not for the negative impact it will have on us, but for what we will make of it.
I understand the anger and sadness you feel, because I feel it too. Sometimes it may feel like you cannot feel angry or upset about missing the small things from a university such as a boat party’s or the club nights, as at least you got to go, at least you had the privilege of education. However, it is ok to feel whatever it is you are feeling. These times are unprecedented (a word we are all sick of hearing). No one could have known that this was going to happen.
Academic institutions have had to adapt to online teaching. The Government emphasis has been on getting children back in the classroom and has led to students feeling like they have been forgotten during the pandemic. This is a feeling I also sympathise with. After paying £9250 a year for three years, it is hard not to see acknowledgement of our hard work. We have paid for a certain standard of education, and over the last few months it hasn’t always felt like we’ve recieved it.
During a difficult financial time, the graduating class of that year is always hit the hardest. The class of 2008 also faced this during the financial recession. There is a lack of jobs, a lack of interest, and the wealth divide becomes larger, making it more difficult for some students to succeed. Opportunities have evaporated overnight, with graduate schemes and master’s scholarships being cancelled.
Whilst in 10 years we may all look back at where life has taken us, I am sure we will all be happy too. There is no doubt that the class of 2020 has been disadvantaged because of COVID-19. This unprecedented time will hit the graduates the hardest but we have to make something of it, without blaming anyone. This will be hard as we want to get angry and feel something, but ultimately all we can do is continue to try our best.
Thanks for the memories
However, dwelling on this too much can lead to negative impressions of your university time. There has been excitement and sadness during the three years, and despite it not ending the way you wanted, it does not detract from the memories that you have already made. Focus on the personal growth that you have made during your time at university. There is no doubt that everyone has changed during this time. I am more confident, stronger, and wiser too. Whilst this does sound like a cliché, we have all learnt more than we realised and that is not just on the course. We have made friends and cried over ridiculous things. We have felt lost and then found ourselves again
I hope that wherever you were when you got your results, you celebrated in your own personal way. That can be anything from hugging your pet, to popping a bottle of champagne. Whatever happens in your future, it is important to note, you are the class of 2020, you are the class that graduated during a global pandemic. No one can take away the fact that you succeeded during unprecedented (sorry!), scary, crazy times.