This one goes out to all the Seniors out there…
After what has to be the longest semester in human history, graduation time is finally here. This month, college seniors across the country are donning wizard robes and funny hats in order to commemorate the fact that they’ve finally earned that thick piece of paper that says “Congratulations, you are now officially an adult!”
Except, no, they won’t. Unfortunately, all fun is still canceled until further notice, which means the Class of 2020 will not be able to walk this spring.
A lot of us look forward to graduation day as the big reward for fighting our way through what seems like endless syllabi, mountains of assignments, and way too many morning classes throughout our time at school. To be robbed of the event in which you and your family get to celebrate your achievements with teammates, coaches, faculty, and friends is truly upsetting. A successful stint at college without a satisfying exclamation point at the end just seems… anticlimactic.
Though the loss of a spring semester and graduation season is devastating, we urge you not to let that get the best of you. After all, you freakin’ did it, and we’re proud of you. So in lieu of a traditional commencement, here are some ways to keep crushing it on the way out.
No ceremony? No Problem!
Graduation season is about blowing off steam, and you can still party like it’s 1999 (or literally any other year than 2020 would work fine at this point) in honor of your new degree. Even though you can’t walk across the stage right now, there’s no reason not to be proud of what you’ve achieved. And hey, you’re still getting the most important thing- the diploma.
Plus, although the class of 2020 is getting the proverbial short straw, the world hasn’t forgotten about you. This article from Parade highlights some innovative celebration ideas, and on May 15, Facebook is even having an online ceremony with appearances from celebrities like Oprah, Awkwafina (I don’t know who that is but the name is awesome), Simone Biles, and many more.
If the watered-down traditions seem like they just aren’t doing it for you, then now seems like as good a time as any to go off-script. Why not pop a bottle of champagne and see if you can accurately spray it into your friends’ cups as they stand the proper six feet away? Or wear one of those funny flat top hats all summer long? Or my personal favorite, get a yard sign with your face on it (better yet, get one of a friend! I smell a prank war!).
NextPlay is also creating virtual trading cards to commemorate the careers of all the graduating seniors out there. Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or someone you know deserves a shoutout!
Stay In Touch (Don’t Just Say You Will)
School is done and the season is over, but that’s no reason to lose contact with your squad. People from all walks of life are leaning heavily on weekly video chats and happy hours in order to catch up and stay social. These virtual get-togethers can be really effective, even therapeutic for those of us who are struggling to maintain sanity in quarantine.
If online hangs like these aren’t in place with your team yet, be the catalyst. Set a day and time every week for anyone who is free to log on and catch up. You’d be surprised how helpful it is to see familiar faces in real-time, even if it is just for a little while. We’re betting that if you establish this routine now, it will be a fun tradition that lasts long after COVID-19 is gone.
If you’re looking to spice it up a bit so that it feels less like the online classes you’ve been attending, don’t be afraid to plan activities or play some games during each session. Newer apps like House Party are building in functions like live trivia to help keep the conversation going, and watching movies over video chat can be almost as good as the real thing.
Use your Alumni Resources
When your time on campus has come to an end, it can be pretty shocking to realize that you’re no longer a student. A lot of us even find this to be a devastating feeling, as you’ve probably learned to call your school home over the last few years.
Fortunately, you don’t have to lose that connection. You might not be wearing the uniform, attending classes, or hanging out in the quad anymore, but that doesn’t mean your time is over. Your alma mater can still give you a boost, even after you’re done. The instant you get that degree, you’re an alumnus, which means you belong to a GIANT community of graduates that you can call on for support throughout your life.
Remember to officially join your school’s alumni association after graduation. In addition to social connections and networking opportunities, alumni associations can be useful in a multitude of other ways- everything from exclusive job listings to discounts at local businesses. Some even offer lifelong learning programs for when you are really missing your student days.
Services and perks will vary from school to school, so make sure you reach out to your alumni association and get involved as early as possible. You never know who or what you might find. At the very least, you’ll be able to stay involved and still feel right at home when you go back for a visit.
All of that said, we know missing out on graduation totally sucks, but it’s not all bad. Look at it this way, now you don’t have to wear a dark robe in the hot sun while answering the same questions from all of your relatives about what you are going to do next; instead, you can just go do it.