College Graduation

What should’ve been one of the most memorable days of my daughter’s life, her college graduation, ended up to be just another lovely day in northern Michigan with a Champaign toast over the fence with the best neighbors ever. Katie graduated from Hope College, a small Christian college in Holland, Michigan. It is a small school, academically rigorous, with a host of caring professors and staff who ensure each student is on the right path, has the right courses, is doing well and completes their degree in 4 years. She has made life long tremendous friends who continually astonish me with their accomplishments and maturity.

My heart is so sad for all of these seniors. Both college and high school for different reasons. The high school grads for missing out on what may be their only graduation, missed senior year sports, missed SAT tests, missed senior skip day, missed senior spring breaks, to say nothing of potential for college sports, they missed the opportunity to play in front of coaches.

The college grads missed out on more life altering experiences. Not only did they miss their graduation and last several weeks with their friends and roommates (because as most people experience, it’s your college buddies are who you usually have life long relationships with) and their spring sports, but their opportunity to apply for jobs, while the whole country is shut down is non-existant. You can look up companies, you can send resumes and cover letters, but most application sites say “shut down due to Covid-19”. This is a very daunting challenge for many college grads. Some have had their positions secured only to have their job offer rescinded due to the shut downs. A very small percentage are fortunate enough to have secured their jobs and have a job to now go to, but some states are in lock down, so can they really relocate to their new homes?

Although sad, disappointing, and scary, I think if we just take a step back and look at the big picture and the big timeline, we can relax and breathe a little. Of course in a perfect world, graduates would like to have their ceremony, pack up their college apartments, spend a weekend with mom and dad or friends and then move into their new adult apartment or house and start their job Monday. But right now the world is not perfect. Think about this though. We work for about 40-45 years of our lives. YEARS. I really think this downturned economy and pandemic closings will be if not over, lifted, within months. We will either come up with a medication to fight it, a vaccine to prevent it or a way to reduce the spread, we will move forward from it. They are working hard on that because the American people are weary from the quarantine. You can see it from the pictures and social media posts. People need people. They need interaction. They need human contact. But even if these grads went a whole year without a job, that would be just one year out of 40 or 45 working years. Again, scary, maddening, frustrating, overwhelming…. all the adjectives…. but I think if we/they concentrate on the big picture, the deep breath and shoulders relaxed outlook we would all have would be beneficial not only for their mental health but also in the job search. A relaxed, confident job searcher will be more successful than a stressed out desperate job searcher.

So please, if you know of a senior, whether high school or college, show them a little love, send them a kind note, give them a little extra love right now. Pressuring them, stressing them out will not do a bit of good. I am quite sure that seniors everywhere are doing all that they can in this frustrating time and will be much more successful if we support them rather than pressure them.

Cheers to the class of 2020!

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