Class of 2021: Looking Ahead at Graduating During COVID-19

Another class of seniors is set to graduate, masked up, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While some things have changed for this group of seniors, other things have remained remarkably the same (Photo by Jordan Revenaugh).

Graduating from college is a monumental time. Graduating can mean different things to different people, but across the board, it is something that helps students celebrate four years of accomplishments. 

Last year, the first group of seniors graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Albion has been able to experiment and figure out new ways to make graduation happen, which was not the case when the pandemic first started. This years’ seniors were able to still get some kind of in-person experience for their final semesters whereas the previous class was forced to complete their college experiences online. 

COVID-19 makes post-grad plans more difficult than usual because of all the changes that have happened and can possibly affect each student differently. 

“I was hoping to at least be able to visit grad schools maybe and do like tours and stuff, so [COVID-19] has affected graduation that way,” Katie Doniere, a senior from Toledo, Ohio. 

As seniors prepare for graduation in the midst of the pandemic, they’re also preparing for the real world experience that comes after that. Cedria Grant, a senior from Detroit, majors in psychology and hopes to use that to help her with her future endeavors of helping traumatized youth.

“We have to find jobs, market ourselves,” said Grant. “[We have to use] everything we have learned in these four years from the Albion experience and do something with it.” 

For seniors, preparing means using observations from last year’s group of seniors to learn how to be as successful as possible stepping foot into the real world. With all of the novelty and confusion in the world at the start of the pandemic, seniors last year didn’t have the advantage of experience that seniors this year have. 

“Right now, I’m trying to get the ball rolling early. Last year, they were not ready to do it until March or April, and I was stressed for them. Now I’m in the position to get my foot into any door that I can,” said Grant. 

Though seniors do have the advantage of experience that last year’s class did not have, they still do long for the normalcy of graduating into a non-pandemic world. Doniere has plans to go to grad school for social work but does not know exactly where yet. 

“I’m excited for graduation because it is kind of giving us some sort of normalcy, but it sucks that we are ending our senior year this way,” said Doniere.

Like Grant and Doniere, all seniors have to prepare for the next phase of their lives transitioning into the real world outside the college bubble.

Albion offers students a helping hand to aid them in this transition. Albion students can work directly with staff and faculty on things that they are very passionate about, which can be a great foundation for their career paths and post-graduate pursuits. 

Leaving college coincides with leaving things behind. College creates memories, relationships and more, which create an enriching experience. Grant said that one of the things she will miss the most about Albion is the opportunities, such as different organizations and daily newsletters for things that students can do that are right at their fingertips.

“By word of mouth, people will show up to things around campus,” said Grant. “I will miss that feeling of community even though we are from many communities. We build Albion in a way that is inclusive as possible.” 

Despite hesitancy to leave certain things behind, there are other things that students will not miss about being at Albion. Graduating allows students to dream bigger and open their minds on their own, which is something Grant can apply with her intended career path.

“[I will not miss] the food and lack of empathy,” said Grant. “I feel that we cannot keep being closed-minded. We can’t keep saying, ‘This is how the system has been for this long and we should be happy for the little victories and changes.’ We could dream bigger. The kids in our generation shouldn’t have to go through that they should be heard and listened to.”

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