I’ve seen the sentiment pop up from grads across the country. A recent Wall Street Journal
analysis of 50 schools found that after promising in-person celebrations last year, 56% are still planning to reschedule
. Some colleges planned joint ceremonies for the class of 2020 and 2021 this graduation season or set aside time in the last month to offer in-person celebrations to those who could attend. Unfortunately, many weren’t so lucky.
“I just wanted to know what is going on here,” one graduate of Barnard College told the Wall Street Journal. “Do you guys still care about us?”
Last I spoke with you all about this was in May of 2020. At the time
, my alma mater, Northeastern University, had recently gone ghost about an in-person commencement after weeks of promising a ceremony in different forms. Now the university says it will
finally celebrate my class (allegedly) in November 2021. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll be there. Eighteen months feels like a long time to wait to celebrate.
What I have decided is that I’m ready to let go of this attachment to my lost commencement. As a first-gen student, I know why the hold it had on me was so strong. Six years after first entering postsecondary education, 56% of first-generation college students haven’t completed their degree, according to
the Center for First-Generation Student Success. I completed my degree in four years but like many first-gen students that diploma was much more than four years in the making. I spent a lot of time thinking that commencement would be the proof of that achievement, but not having that hasn’t taken away from accomplishments.
My success doesn’t need to be so closely tied to a university-sanctioned event. I got the diploma, I got the job, and most importantly I got the satisfaction of knowing that I got myself through my college career. Reminding myself that there will be other milestones and rites of passage to celebrate has helped me get through this graduation season. I hope it’ll be enough to get me through the many more to come.
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