Graduating in a Pandemic…A Seniors Tale

By: Casandra Stolz

Seniors who are approaching an anticipated commencement from Thiel College may share a similar disappointment as the class of 2020. Important sentimental moments during the past year have been shared through a screen or cancelled all together. The 2021 class graduation will probably be succumbed to the same fate. Hopefully, our technologically challenged family members can learn how Zoom works before May. For many students, the tassel from freshman orientation served as a symbol of completing a life milestone and beginning the passageway of adulthood. College nurtures students during many types of learning curves to become the best version of ourselves. Transforming our cognitive abilities as independent thinking adults, who will influence society based on the experiences that happened in and out of the classroom. Typically, graduation is a momentous achievement that is paired with new opportunities from the countless hours of thought provoking, self-defining, hard work. Yet this year feels different, as it should. For some of us, fields of employment that were flourishing four years ago are in despair currently. While for others, there has never been a time of more abundant prospects. In this time of pandemic uncertainty, it is known that Covid-19 is changing the economy.

During the pandemic, students have undeniably enhanced their soft skills; traits employers and graduate schools are valuing these skills more than ever before. When students are planning their futures after graduation, they can utilize how they’ve adapted to a unique situation. At one point or another this semester, everyone has been in a virtual or hybrid class. Although the transition may have been difficult, students were bettered by the experience. By doing presentations and classes online, we learned how to effectively communicate information from our bedrooms to our peers, as well as adapt to staying attentive during online presentations. This skill will be invaluable to employers who work remotely with clients on a regular basis. Learning virtual etiquette and how to use programs efficiently will prove to be very useful entering a profession. Our way of life is more dependent on the internet than ever before. Although Covid-19 may have disrupted some post graduate plans, there are many ways to utilize a college experience and degree despite the pandemic. Several seniors have enjoyed online classes so much, they have decided to continue with online graduate programs and certificates. Others have felt like they “aren’t getting their money’s worth when it comes to virtual learning” but their respectable field of employment is not centered around technology. A senior conservation biology student feels confident to the jobs they have begun inquiring about because they are “prominently outdoors based with minimal human interaction”-Some great qualities of a profession during a pandemic. Those of us who aspire to be in fields such as IT and healthcare have a flourishing job outlook now. Unemployment rates for college grads have spiked in the last three years. In June of 2016, the national rate was at 4.1 percent while during the pandemic, that percent escalated to 13.2 percent, according to the Statista Research Department. The numbers are bleak and there is no denying that students are graduating into an unstable job market. Luckily for Thiel College students, we have all received promising preparations to succeed our career goals post-graduation.

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