Graduating From Home

“I told my Mum, Snapchatted my friends and had a takeaway for tea”: The anti-climactic end for the Class of 2020

By Abi Purvis

I had been preparing for the last mile of the degree race for the last two and a half years of my life. Ever since my first open day, the idea of completing and physically handing in a bound dissertation was incredibly exciting to me.

The excitement (and anxiety) increased when I was midway through my dissertation project and the deadline was in sight. In February, it was a relief to be able to turn to my course mates of three years and decide we were going to get each other through our dissertations with work coffee dates and a big celebration at the end goal – and repeat this ‘collective stress to reward’ cycle with our last two assignments.

Except that, thanks to Mr Covid-19, that couldn’t happen.

Myself and my course mates are not the only ones who have lost our memories that were to be. There are thousands of final year students who, like me, have recently faced an extremely anti-climactic end to their university experience. We have poured hours of hard work into even getting into university in the first place, and then battled our ways through our degrees too. All of this resulted in missing out on handing in that last assignment – one of the most anticipated moments of university life – to instead be sat at our parents dining room table, that we have converted into a desk, pressing submit on the final assignment and preparing to face the start of the aimless ‘groundhog coronavirus days’.

At first I felt a bit sick when I handed in my last assignment because I was anxious about it all being over, but soon I was just disheartened because it became an average day. Although, I did manage to persuade my parents to have a drink and play a couple of board games with me, which was nice.

Many of my course mates felt the same. Lily Smith, an English and History student at Plymouth University said, “When I handed in my last assignment, it felt kind of anticlimactic. It was meant to be this big thing signifying the end of my uni experience, maybe an opportunity to go out with my friends to celebrate. Instead I told my Mum, Snap-chatted my friends and had a takeaway for tea.”

For many students in their final year, there is a constant voice in their head asking “What next?”. For some people there’s the masters, the panic masters, or the graduate schemes… or for those like me it was the plan to internship for a few months and hope to stumble into something I love. But now? I’ve not got a clue. I’ve just been endlessly researching remote job opportunities to find a purpose in the mundane routine.

Again, thousands of soon to be graduates are in this same boat. What will career prospects look like for us after a pandemic? Will we ever have a graduation ceremony to celebrate our hard work? Will we be the unemployed Class of 2020?

And yes, we know we had to, and wanted to, sacrifice the end of our university years for the sake of the wellbeing of everyone else, much like every member of society has had to sacrifice at least something for the pandemic we face together. And so, every time I realise this, I feel incredibly selfish about mourning my lost plans and what could’ve been.

Instead we have ‘sucked it up’ and dealt with the at home distractions, the final year anxiety heightened by less than ideal study spaces, and patchy zoom calls with our lecturers. We did this even though our minds have been focused elsewhere… A.K.A the current pandemic.

As the Class of 2020 we need to remain strong and remember we still have our victory. Our hard work is complete (and, yes, it was MUCH harder doing it from home). We have earnt our degree no matter the grade or when we officially get it. We have proven that we have grit and immense levels of motivation to leave our lockdown depression pit of a bed, keep positive, and finish what we started those years ago – and hopefully employers will see that.

Well done to each and every one of us. We will celebrate together when we can.

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