Senior Year, for both high school and college students alike, is a momentous occasion that almost everyone looks forward to—the last sporting event, last time seeing friends or people that you have grown up with together. The end of senior year becomes a recognition of accolades and Prom. Finally, and most importantly, there’s walking across the stage for graduation and receiving your diploma. All that is now forcibly stripped away due to the Coronavirus, or COVID-19.
In 2019, about 3.4 million students graduated from college, with 1.9 million receiving a Bachelor’s Degree of some sort. While it is impossible at this point to say how many would have graduated this year, the number would probably be somewhere similar. I was meant to be one of those 3.4 million. On May 15, 2020, I was supposed to be walking across the stage to shake the hand of the President of my college, trying to hold back tears from excitement and realization that college was over; those tears came two months too early instead. On March 10, 2020, I said goodbye to my friends, believing that we would only be away for two weeks, finding out a week later that we would have no final and rightful closure to our college career. For me, and millions of other students, we feel the end of an era was suddenly stripped away. Next time we are on campus, if we choose to come back, we will be alumni, no longer students.
Even though in-person classes have been suspended for the rest of the year, classes have continued to be taught online. Some teachers, I have noticed, have given less work, while others have decided to triple the amount of work, believing that we now have more time. Zoom and Google Meet has become a popular option to hold classes, and despite this, many professors choose not to do either and simply assign work. The transition has been extremely rough for many students, including myself. I, along with many others, have found being at home to be extremely unmotivating.
Alyssa Zduniak, a Manhattan College senior located in New York City, is one of the millions whose senior year is coming to a close early. She said, “A large issue with online learning is the expectation that my generation should thrive in these conditions.” She explained that going to college gave her the sense of community, based on professors and peers, which got her out of her dorm room. She said that the community aspect that most professors attempt to garner on Zoom or Google Meet does not replace one of the most vital elements of being in school. In turn, her motivation is lacking as well.
In a world where it’s difficult at this moment to see the light, motivation to do work may seem like the last of a students' worries. Senioritis is a real thing for Seniors; combined with the non-existent motivation of being at home seems like an endless downfall. Zduniak says “What’s the point of working hard when my thoughts are mainly just lost in the void of the servers? Watching Netflix and actively not thinking about the state of the world is a much more enticing option”.
I believe, in a way, that I am lucky. My own college has announced that graduation will be held at a later date, which at this point is undecided until the pandemic has slowed. However, for many, the most important ceremony of the year has been cancelled or will be held virtually. It is heartbreaking and feels almost unfair to not even be able to have a ceremony, feeling that their last semester has not only been robbed from COVID-19, but their institution has done so as well.
Somewhat ironically, for this generation of students, according a recent article in The Washington Post, national trauma is nothing new. It has, unfortunately, become the standard for this generation of high school and college seniors. High school seniors were born shortly after 9/11, while College seniors were only three years old. From there, both groups have grown up in a world in which school shootings have became the norm. We grew up with the fear that a shooting would interfere with school, not realizing that a pandemic would rip it all away at the final moments.
Despite the rest of senior year remaining online, the Class of 2020 remains the strongest I have ever known. We, the Class of 2020, will get through this together, just like we always do.