Something I was really looking forward to since the start of my senior year was eventually receiving a diploma. Because how cool is that? I worked towards this goal for two and a half years now, with full confidence in achieving it. Until suddenly an invisible enemy changed the course of direction.

The second to last bimester of my academic year started like all others: in a familiar environment on campus, with physical lectures and workgroups. However, that quickly changed when my fellow students and I were forced to stay at home in self-isolation because of the coronavirus. A lot was unclear, and no one expected that it would last for such a long period of time. I never thought that this whole virus-situation would intervene so heavily in my future plans.

Virtual Graduation?

The reality of everything is now slowly getting to me. I understand that most likely I will not graduate physically. In this last phase of my studies, I will no longer see all my teachers or classmates. I will not have my daily strolls over campus to get from one class to the other anymore. Nor will I sit in the university library for my usual study sessions. And most importantly, I don’t even know if my graduation ceremony is still happening.

Man in cap and gown during a graduation ceremony
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Fortunately, mankind is adaptable. The educational landscape changed drastically in a short period of time. Teachers who had never done anything online whatsoever, are now teaching in front of the virtual classroom in Zoom every week. In a classroom where we normally all gather at the same time, it is now 10 am for the student in Rotterdam, 3 pm for the student in Bangkok, and 4 am for the student in New York.

I have nothing but respect for all the teachers, support staff, and students who are extremely flexible in these extraordinary times. Giving up personal space and time, teachers put in their best efforts to ensure their students get the best education. I can only admire the selfless efforts of all the teachers who do the most to make this situation work. I hope that the next time when you applaud for our health workers, you will also give special thanks to these teachers.

The Deep End

Together with all other students in the class of 2020, we are facing an uncertain labor market. This probably also holds true for the graduating years after me. The economy is a mess and many companies will cease to exist. After all these years of intensive studying and gaining practical experience, I am worried whether I will get a chance on the job market as I imagined it before.

Therefore, I hope that we will be recognized by our future employers. That the graduates of the 2019-2020 academic year will receive some extra attention after summer during the selection process of applicants for job positions. In our final year, we had to switch it all up and make things work in order to graduate. Let the employers remember how we, the class of 2020, managed to finish our studies under these extraordinary circumstances.

This article is inspired by this Linkedin post.