By Leah Conway
As results day passed for many of the final year students of the University of Huddersfield this week, it’s another reminder of not only what we have achieved and gained but also what we’ve lost over the past few months.
Many went home at the beginning of lockdown without realising it could be the last time seeing the town, the course mates, and the lecturers that they have come to know over their years at university – leaving without the hope of graduation and a goodbye.
Yes, more significant problems are going on in the world. Still, there is no harm in acknowledging the small losses of normality too.
Since the lockdown, many students have struggled and have felt lost or forgotten. Students have trundled on under the pressure of finishing their degree in a global pandemic, many of whom have been key workers or had to take up heavy responsibilities at home.
They have been expected to continue as usual and to get things done with limited support and resources but with the same academic expectations.
One of the biggest things that will be missed is our graduation day. While there are suggestions of graduations being rescheduled, as each day passes, I feel like the likelihood of it being brushed off and forgotten increases.
Graduation is one of the significant milestones of students’ journeys; to be able to don the cap and gown, to celebrate our achievements with the friends that accompanied us along the way.
It’s the ‘Big day’, the rite of passage, that our degree has been leading up to from the day we started.
We don’t expect sympathy or for people to feel sad for us in times like these. We understand and accept why graduations have been postponed or canceled.
We only ask that we are allowed to feel a loss for missing out on the graduation day we all imagined.
Yes, we will get over not having a graduation ceremony. Still, a more significant concern for many students is ‘What now?’ There’s fear for our future career prospects and securing jobs when much of the news is about job losses due to the ongoing pandemic.
According to research by Milkround and Dig-in, only 18% of 2020 university graduates have secured a job, and 75% of students fear that COVID-19 will have an impact on their future career prospects.
Students who wish to continue into the postgraduate study are approaching it will some uncertainty and apprehension. There is a reluctance to commit to postgraduate study due to the prospect of paying the fees when they may receive online learning in return.
However prevalent these fears are for students right now, they continue to look to the future.
Some are taking time to volunteer as key workers, others are applying for further study or managing to get interviews despite everything that has interrupted their plans for the future over the past few months.
When I look at my friends around me who share these fears, I am proud to see them persevere.