A College Career Cut Short: graduating Lakers respond to COVID-19


Amy McNeel, Associate Editor

On Tuesday, March 17, the Office of the President notified the Grand Valley State University community that classes will continue to be online through the rest of the semester. This decision is in suit with other universities across the country as a preventative measure for the spread of COVID-19.

While the move to remote learning was necessary for the health and safety of Lakers and the larger community, it did leave many students feeling disappointed. For graduating seniors, their time at GVSU has been cut short.

To gage the emotions of these graduating seniors, the Lanthorn created a survey that went over topics including online classes, commencement and COVID-19. Fourty students responded to the survey.

Sixty percent of respondents reported that they feel negatively about classes being moved online. Although the move was necessary, students emphasized the difficulty of remote learning and the lack of structure that comes with it.

“Overall, it’s very stressful having online classes, and on top of that, COVID-19,” one respondent said. “I avoided online classes at all costs because I do not learn well that way at all. So being thrown into four (online classes) gives a whole new level of anxiety for me.”

Another respondent said that the transition from face-to-face to online classes hasn’t been as smooth as hoped for and that there is now more stress surrounding final capstone projects.

When asked about the possibility of commencement being canceled, 67.5 percent of respondents recorded feeling negatively about the prospect, while 22.5 percent were indifferent and 10 percent were unsure. No respondents reported feeling positively about the possibility.

“I understand this had to be done, but please give us graduating seniors a commencement,” a respondent said. “We have worked so hard to get to where we are now, so please do not cancel graduation for GVSU’s class of 2020.”

With the possibility of commencement being canceled, the Lanthorn asked about possible alternatives. In response, 67.5 percent of respondents said they would like the ceremony to be postponed. These students believe a late commencement is better than no commencement at all. Additionally, 82.5 percent of respondents said they would like the opportunity to obtain a cap and gown for photos, even if commencement were canceled.

While many of these students feel increased stress about their current situations, they are also anxious about their futures. 62.5 percent of respondents said the pandemic has shifted their post-college plans.

COVID-19 has shut down companies across the country and has resulted in many employees working from home. With so much uncertainty surrounding the job market, graduating seniors are feeling the pressure.

When asked how COVID-19 has shifted their post-graduation plans, respondents said the following: “Job searching has become a little bit more difficult;” “I’m not sure about employment anymore;” “It’s hard to interview for jobs when everyone is on lockdown.”

With unemployment at a devastating high, the futures of many upcoming graduates will be halted, adding stress to the already stressful transition from college to the real world.

“This last semester was incredibly stressful to begin with because it was a transition from college life to adulthood and starting my life,” a respondent said. “With everything going on, it has not only postponed graduation, but postponed my future.”

It is the hope of many graduating seniors that GVSU will do something, anything, to recognize them and the work they’ve done.

“I understand that GVSU has a lot going on and a lot to figure out right now, but as a graduating senior, I do not feel properly seen, recognized or acknowledged about what all of this means to us,” a respondent said. “I am grateful for the four years of opportunity and community that this university has given — I just wasn’t prepared for it to end so quickly.”