Senior-year college students across America have lost the remainder of their final semester on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With that comes reminiscing on fond memories and the sadness of knowing that college life is over.
At Albion, seniors are devastated that their experience is over too soon. For most, it is almost unimaginable.
“If you would have told me that after Christmas break, I would be moving home for good in approximately a month and a half because of a worldwide pandemic, I frankly would have laughed,” said Kelsey Gustafson, a senior from Armada, Mich.
While the events are surreal, a worldwide pandemic calls for cautious measures. Seniors still feel as though the year ended too abruptly.
“I think that we will always remember the semester that we didn’t get to finish,” said Alex Horman, a senior from Grand Rapids, Mich.
Ending senior year prematurely has been difficult, but perspective is helping seniors get through the loss.
“People are in so much pain and suffering around the world, and I am upset about not attending parties and organizational events,” said Jordan Marmul, a senior from Empire, Mich.
Despite disappointment, Marmul said that she is reminding herself to be grateful during this time.
“Yes, I won’t be able to live out my final months of college how I’d like, but at least I had the experiences I did, and my family and I are safe and healthy,” said Marmul.
The end of in-person classes meant the introduction of online courses. For second semester seniors, staying engaged has been difficult.
“My classes are naturally hands-on and require a lot of communication, and it has been an adjustment not being able to do that,” said Horman.
However, professors are being recognized for their dedicated work to make the transition occur smoothly.
“I didn’t feel like I was just being thrown in with the wolves when starting to do everything online, I felt supported through it all,” said Marmul.
Luckily for seniors, commencement has not been cancelled, but it is postponed for now. The ceremony is an important parting gift for students, and a final goodbye for many relationships.
“My senior class and I deserve a proper ceremony to honor all of the hard work and dedication it takes to get through four years at Albion College, because let me tell you, it is not easy,” said Gustafson.
Commencement is particularly special at Albion.
“We are all names at Albion, not numbers, making some sort of commencement ceremony so much more important to us,” said Marmul.
On March 13, Coleman Schindler, a senior from Elk Rapids, Mich., organized an impromptu faux commencement ceremony of his own, gathering some 50 people to celebrate on the quad before the majority of students left campus. The event caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal.
“During the ceremony, we talked about how surreal it was for us seniors waking up to an email from the school practically saying that our 50 days left had turned to none,” said Schindler. “Our ceremony was the chance at attempting to find closure in our college career.”
Despite the unfortunate circumstances of COVID-19, seniors are endlessly appreciative for what Albion has offered them.
“At the end of the day, it is the people that really made Albion so special to me. There was never a time when I felt alone, not supported, or uncared for at Albion,” said Marmul.
The people at Albion make four years at the institution possible.
“I will miss being able to walk down the street and say hi to half the people I see and feel the camaraderie that I have only ever experienced at Albion,” said Horman.
As for the relationships, seniors will cherish their friendships forever.
“We love Albion and everything that comes with it. The friends I have made and the experiences that are special to Albion are going to be something that I hold onto forever,” said Gustafson.