A majority of this piece was written before ISU president Deborah Curtis sent out the video announcing that the university is moving to online instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. It was also announced that spring commencement is no longer taking place.
Senior year: the last time many students step foot into a classroom. It marks the end of one chapter and the start to the rest of their lives. Many spend hours applying to jobs, deciding how to decorate graduation caps, and going to their last homecoming events. The last thing any of them expected was for the last time they stepped into a classroom to come months earlier than expected due to a pandemic.
So what were these seniors doing when they heard classes were postponed?
“Since I work in media I started freaking out a little bit because I will lose new experiences within my department due to classes being online. I’m happy that my professors will still be on campus if I need help with projects. However, both of my jobs are campus jobs, and I’m somewhat unemployed due to sports and campus events being canceled, so I’m really worried of how it’s going to affect the remainder of my senior year,” said ISU senior Hailey Turner.
One topic that has seniors particularly concerned is what will happen with commencement. It’s a day many students dream about for years. For one ISU student, the uncertainty for herself isn’t what she’s worried about.
“I need a commencement. How am I, a first generation college student, going to explain to my mom who gave up so much for me she won’t see me cross the stage and get my degree? I just can’t. It’s not my heartbreak I’m concerned about, it’s hers,” said ISU senior Morgan Hocking.
Many seniors had visions of what this year would look like but the pandemic has most of that vision looking rather blurry.
“I expected this senior year to go by smoothly in hopes to graduate on time this May but due to this virus going on, it’s affecting my work schedule and not being able to communicate with my professors to make sure that I’m on the right track. Social distancing is one of the things I was most concerned about because since I graduate in May, how are we able to fit in thousands of friends and families in the Hulman Center if we supposed to keep distant from our graduating class and our families? I feel like if the number of cases keeps rising, then the commencement ceremony might have to be rescheduled to August if possible,” ISU senior Rachael Edwards said. “It’s been a very interesting year but I have no problem of rescheduling the commencement ceremony to a later time. I don’t want to risk any of my family members to get COVID-19. I hope this virus won’t be here for long because if so, then I won’t be able to work and see my classmates again since we’re not allowed to be back in classrooms until later in April.”
Note: it has since been announced that the spring commencement will be held virtually and current seniors may have the opportunity to walk across the stage in December.
Students at Indiana University received the news of the university moving the rest of the semester to online instruction before Indiana State made their announcement. One IU student discussed how the changes are affecting her.
“IU going completely online has really affected me emotionally. Not only did I have to think about how to adjust to a fully online schedule, but I was also really torn up about the rest of my senior year being cancelled. There was so much to look forward to in April at IU and it was all just taken away due to this pandemic. It’s just upsetting to know that my last day on campus as an undergrad was March 13 and I didn’t even know it or appreciate it,” said Indiana University senior Puni Rawala.
Some students are still waiting to see what their school decides for the rest of the semester but are still feeling the same emotions students losing their commencements are.
“Senior year was not supposed to be spent doing online classes and having to readjust to a syllabus. The pandemic that’s happening has totally shifted what my senior year looks like,” University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign senior Daisy Ugalde said. “I am extremely sad that commencement might be cancelled because as a first gen that’s all I ever wanted to give my parents.”