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Class of 2020 Reflects on Graduating Amidst a Global Pandemic

A collage of different seniors who are graduating in 2020 on a blue backdrop with the words "class of 2020" written in the middle.
There is still uncertainty about the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and how long it will impact the job market, especially for incoming graduates. Illustration by (c) Reset Fest Inc, Canada

Education

Class of 2020 Reflects on Graduating Amidst a Global Pandemic

‘I don't even know if I'll see my college friends again.’

With the world reeling from the outbreak of the coronavirus, millions of college students across the world were forced to cut their semesters short and continue classes online or just head home. We spoke to seniors in undergraduate and graduate programs regarding their concerns about graduating at a precarious time like this. Here’s what they said.

Aishwarya Shetty, 20, mass communications student, Pune, India

Aishwarya Shetty wears a pink shirt and poses in between two pillars.

Aishwarya Shetty feels like she was robbed of the memories of the last months of college. Photo courtesy: Aishwarya Shetty

We were told that we are not supposed to come to college from March 14th until further notice. It was the last month of our final semester, we still had portions and assignments to be completed. Our exams have been canceled and we will be graded solely based on our internal college assignments.

It is extremely sad, I was looking forward to college ending, but not so abruptly. We’ve been robbed of the last few memories…of this place we called home for three years. My entire college experience, as of now, feels incomplete. 

Our juniors have created an Instagram page as their way of bidding farewell to us. I feel sad for them as well, they were really looking forward to putting up a good show for us.

Mohamed Anees, 22 design management student, Dubai, UAE

Mohamed Anees smiles at the camera wearing a grey blazer

Online lectures started off great for Mohamed Anees but, he admits it is difficult to concentrate at home. Photo courtesy: Mohamed Anees

My college shut on March 8th and classes have moved online. It started off great but now, I am not able to concentrate at home. Thinking about returning to university at some point helps me cope. Personally, I [used to] do all my work at university so this has severely affected my productivity.

“It is sad that the last few months of our undergrad are spent at home.”

There is no confirmation from the university about not having a graduation ceremony. However, I am praying every day for the situation to be solved but it looks far from it. It is sad that the last few months of our undergrad are spent at home, away from enjoying university life.

My plan was to work for two years before applying for grad school. Presently, I am not sure how things are going to be in the end. 

Gautam Wadhwa, 24, LLM student, Pennsylvania, USA

Gautam Wadhwa wears a black shirt and black glasses.

Gautam Wadhwa says he would gladly swap the extra hours of sleep he gets now for the old life he had before the coronavirus outbreak. Photo courtesy: Gautam Wadhwa

[We got a mail after spring break] that the whole of this semester will happen online, including exams. There haven’t been any IT issues and the teachers are still teaching with the same enthusiasm. We are still following old timetables so the schedule is mostly undisturbed, just get a few more hours to sleep every day. I would gladly swap that sleep for the life [I had] a month ago though.

Convocation hasn’t been officially called off yet, it might be postponed. Though it feels really bad that there is a probability that I will not be able to say goodbye to my classmates and professors who come from all around the world. I would also not be able to go to my favourite restaurants or pubs for the last time or properly say goodbye to the people I saw everyday like the bus driver or that particular server at a restaurant.

Harleen, 21, marketing student, Sharjah, UAE

Harleen smiles at the camera wearing a white top.

Getting a job after she graduates has become a cause for concern for Harleen, who is slated to complete college in two months. Photo courtesy: Harleen

Because of the current situation, employers are very unwilling to hire new people, therefore I am concerned about getting a job since I will be graduating in the next two months. I know a few of my friends who were going to get hired, but then the company stopped the hiring process in the middle because of the [pandemic]. Our career [fair] was canceled as well. 

[The whole situation] is extremely upsetting, as we all were so excited and had already bought our graduation gowns and were in the process of filling our yearbooks; it all just went on halt. My friends and I had plans for a graduation trip but that has been canceled too.

I was not planning to pursue grad school right after graduation, yet this probably gives me more time to study for GMAT!


Also read: Parents and Kids Are Unhappy About the Coronavirus-Caused ‘Vacation’


Skund Singh, 22, law student, Lucknow, India

 Skund Singh smiles at the camera wearing a patterned red kurta.

Skund Singh is hopeful that things will go back to normal so he can see his college friends one last time. Photo courtesy: Skund Singh

My college closed [around the second week of March]. I am in my final semester, I still had one month of classes left. The process of online classes has started, I am being patient and trying to be positive during this tough time.

“I know the gravity of the pandemic, but I am sad about what I am missing because of it.”

We don’t know for how long the jobs will be affected in the legal fraternity. Campus placements [aren’t taking place right now]. I am planning to take up the CLAT PG [an entrance examination for graduate studies] this year, but I have no idea if the exam will be conducted as decided.

It feels horrible to think about not having a farewell. I know the gravity of the pandemic, but I am sad about what I am missing because of it. I don’t even know if I’ll see my college friends again. I am just hopeful that everything will go back to being normal.

Aditya Jain, 23, architecture student, New York, USA

 Aditya Jain wears a grey tunic and smiles at the camera while sitting on grass.

The transition to online classes is difficult for architecture students like Aditya Jain who need design reviews and in-person sessions with faculty. Photo courtesy: Aditya Jain

We have transitioned to online classes as of March 23rd  for the rest of the semester. It has created a lot of uncertainty about how things will be graded. As architecture students, it is important for us to present our work in person and have design reviews. We are no longer able to work on physical models, print drawings, test them or meet faculty in person. I’m not sure how my final thesis review will go since it’s shifting to an online system.

It was my dream to graduate with all my friends in 2020. My parents and my sister were supposed to fly in from India to come see the ceremony. It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and everyone is extremely disappointed. I feel like five years of investment is not being celebrated at the end.

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