This pandemic is not going away anytime soon and its effects are still wreaking havoc for some college seniors who were hoping to graduate this Fall. Just weeks before graduation, many are learning that Fall commencement has been postponed or even canceled. Commencement is more than just a ceremony to many. For some, it is a major accomplishment. I, myself, was excited to be able to walk across the stage and receive a diploma as a first-generation student. Grace Smith wrote in her article Graduation Is Cancelled—It Hurts Even More as a First-Gen Latinx Student, “Walking across that stage in my carefully decorated cap and gown wasn’t just supposed to be about completing my degree — it was about the completion of my American Dream.” The last-minute change is leaving many- including myself- wondering, what now?
First, it is important to give yourself permission to be upset or disappointed. Graduation is a major life event, and you have every right to feel let down. It is just as important to express those feelings to an empathetic friend or family member. You could also take time to write how you’re feeling in a journal, but if you do so, be sure to also recognize the major achievements you have accomplished on your way to earning your degree!
Practicing self-care is another great way to help yourself feel better. You might choose to take a bubble bath, get your favorite winter drink from Starbucks, or set aside time to watch a movie. Reward yourself for making it through college – you deserve it!
There are many ways to celebrate your graduation that are COVID-friendly as well. You could use technology to your advantage and host your own digital graduation celebration. It’s an excuse to wear your cap and gown and have a little fun, who wouldn’t love that? If you’re tired of video calls, you could also arrange a drive-by parade so you are still able to see all of your loved ones and feel appreciated.
To all my fellow seniors who are dealing with a canceled or postponed graduation: I am sorry. I hope that each and every one of you is able to celebrate in a way that feels right to you. Your resilience will make you a stronger person in the end and you’ll still get that degree. Congratulations, you did it!