A look at the class of 2021 and what lies ahead
A remarkable school year ends
It’s that time of year again, when the hallowed halls of universities open up and release hordes of black-robed graduates like bats out of hell. Congratulations to everyone involved. It has been a remarkable year, and for those who have made it to the finish line – students, educators, tutors and society at large – you have!
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that nothing beats our resilience, which has remained unwavering in the face of extraordinary challenges. Like remembering to mute Zoom before complaining. That said, muted or not, such sentiments are echoed by many this year.
âOn an emotional level, students must feel like they’ve missed a lot of ‘times’,â says Grant Aldrich, CEO of Online Diploma, an educational platform with free lessons. âThe last walk on campus, the final celebration with friends. Although some degrees are in person, a large majority are still virtual. “
Even though the ceremonies are not virtual, they are also not recognizable as the ceremonies of yesteryear. This year, for example, Sonoma State University will host a âDrive-Thruâ ceremony.
âYes, we’re excited to celebrate our 2021 graduates with hybrid drive-thru and virtual launch celebrations,â the university’s website states. âAs a graduate, you will have the opportunity to attend in person, in a vehicle, accompanied by your family and friends. You will be able to get out of your car, cross the stage, receive your diploma cover and take a photo on stage with your badges on.
For those who cannot make the trailer, there will be a livestream on Sonoma.edu. However, those who can are reminded that âparty busesâ are not allowed.
However, not everyone is in a festive mood. Genesis Gutierrez, member of the 2021 graduating class from the University of California at Los Angeles, is decidedly more thoughtful.
“I feel like the first thing I’m experiencing right now, more than ever, is sadness because of how quickly I was pushed into reality without even having the chance to think about it” , says Gutierrez, who is also the founder of the wellness blog and e-commerce company Seven souls. âWhen Covid arrived, I had to find where I wanted to work, leave my university apartment without knowing if I was coming back, and I didn’t look back. I feel like my life has started, and I had to learn how to grow up without warning, and so graduating feels numb to me. We don’t even feel that this whole school year has passed.
As many students may rightly bemoan the past year, it is their future that is of greatest concern.
âThere is no doubt that new graduates feel uncertain about the future. Finding full-time employment in the field in which they have studied is difficult, and many are looking for alternative paths, âsays Aldrich. “According to a study by Monster and Wakefield, 77% of graduates plan to work freelance or at concerts, and 73% have taken a job out of desperation.”
Besides their career prospects, there is also the issue of the general well-being of our new graduates, especially their mental health as they enter a world full of unknowns.
âNew graduates can experience intense anxiety when navigating a world that doesn’t seem safe to them,â says Julia Gold, psychotherapist and founder of Hopeful Bluebird Consulting, LLC. âNew graduates must cope with the job search in an unstable economy while ensuring the safety of their families. New graduates face layers of trauma from a global pandemic, a precarious employment economy, and navigate ever-changing social rules. “
It’s not all sadness though, recalls Aldrich, who underlines companies’ willingness to hire graduates with transferable skills – even if they haven’t studied in the exact field of the job – as a flash of light. hope.
âFor example, let’s say a student has studied international relations but is looking for a job in social media marketing. Even without a marketing degree, they may be able to find a job if they have samples or a portfolio, âsays Aldrich.
Joe Wilson, Senior Career Advisor at Mint Summary, a resume and career website, agrees.
âOn the positive side, these graduates have learned to be adaptable,â he says. âThey have learned to thrive in a constantly changing world, and it is they who can advance that attitude and skill. They have been through more difficult times, have adjusted to different lifestyles and learning styles, and will be better equipped to adapt to change as it continues.
Wilson’s observation highlights the experience of Madeleine Knight, a graduate of Credo High School in Rohnert Park.
âI think we, on the whole, have gained knowledge about what needs to be fixed in the world, and we have gained different ideas on how to improve our world,â says Knight, a talented and accomplished artist. âI think we were just one of the unlucky generations who had to go through this. Over the past month, things have improved a lot as we approach the date of the graduation ceremony, but as we are graduating now – and despite all of that, there is a slightly unsatisfying feeling. There are people I know I’ll probably never see again, and that’s what scares me the most.