Illustration of looking toward the future after graduation
In this time of anxiety for the future, it is important to stay positive and keep looking ahead. (Illustration by Sarah Yu, Duke University)

Our School Year Might Be Cancelled, but Our Graduation Doesn’t Have To Be

Class of 2020 celebrations may be cancelled in person, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate in our own unique ways.

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Illustration of looking toward the future after graduation

Class of 2020 celebrations may be cancelled in person, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate in our own unique ways.

Calling all senior undergraduates. We adventured through elementary, awkwardly got by in junior high, succeeded in high school, all to get us through our vigorous four years in college. At the beginning of our fourth year, we’ve counted down the days to our graduation. We envisioned walking across the stage and receiving our diplomas. We planned our ‘fits to a T and how we would craft our caps to reflect our last four years.

But instantaneously, everything we looked forward to was taken away. Because of the severity of recent events, COVID-19 has compromised our defining moment. However, though we may not walk across the stage among our peers at the college we made our own, we can still celebrate. We worked tirelessly. Cramming for exams and pulling all-nighters wired on coffee. We deserve our moment in the spotlight, and we’re going to get it.

1. Turn Your Backyard into the Graduation Center Stage

Yes, you may not have as big an audience, but throw yourself your own graduation. All eyes on you (whether it just be your mom, dad, sister, brother, roommate). That grad cap you wanted to decorate? Decorate it. That graduation outfit you had picked out months in advance? Wear it. Then fill your backyard with balloons, streamers, a banner.

There will be no endless speeches, and no pressures of walking in front of an entire crowd praying to God you’re not that grad falling flat on their face. And let’s be honest, absolutely no one (not even the graduates) enjoys sitting at graduation for hours on end. By hosting your own celebration, you’ll have control over every aspect.

2. Create A Vision Board

Since graduation was cancelled, many of us have lost excitement for our futures. Following graduation, we are expected and even looking forward to jump-starting our careers, but in a time like this, everything has been put on hold — including job-hunting. A lucky few of us might have already acquired jobs and were excited to start our careers immediately after graduating.

However, jobs, too, are now on hold and our start dates continue to be pushed further and further into the future. And those who were in the process of looking for positions might have faltered, feeling discouraged, because of the lack of hiring at this moment. It’s unfortunate that our graduating year is in the midst of this pandemic, but we can’t forget about the goals we longed to achieve with our degrees.

Create a vision board of all your aspirations and goals you set for yourself postgraduation: career, traveling, health. Be specific, and each day or each week do something that will get you to those goals. Make your vision board big and vibrant and put it somewhere you will see every day. The point is for your vision board to keep you inspired. After putting in those four strenuous years, don’t lose your motivation to do what you set out to do.

3. Up Your Instagram

We all try to find an excuse for an Insta pic, and here’s the perfect opportunity. You are now a college graduate, so flaunt this new you. Ditch the walk. This won’t be an ordinary photoshoot. Dress for the job you’re aspiring to earn with your degree. Wear outrageous outfits and find the ultimate backdrops. Instagram user @hobgooodie posted her pics in a three-part series where she let herself express her college experience and everything she’s gained. She even leaves a message for what lies ahead looking into the future. This photoshoot will be a defining moment you can share across your feed. After achieving this diploma, you deserve a humblebrag, so have at it.

Though this may not be how we imagined finishing our college years, let’s own it. No, our favorite professors won’t be handing us our diplomas and our friends and families won’t be there to embarrass us with whistles and big cut-out pictures of our heads, but they’re all still cheering us on and hoping to see us conquer big things ahead. Class of 2020 may not be getting the traditional graduation, but still make it worthwhile. Forget the ‘First Photo Challenge with your significant other or the Until Tomorrow challenge posting ugly pics of yourself. We want to see Class of 2020.

“Quarantine Grad” challenge accepted.

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