Life has many major milestones and one of those is graduation. Usually during this time of year, families are preparing for the celebrations to come. They’re ready to sit in hard-bottom chairs under the hot sun, to scream war hoops when they hear their grad’s name and to snap as many photos as possible. This should be the happiest of times. However, traditional senior year activities are marred by COVID-19.
This is the first of a series of articles of the unique challenges and opportunities facing the students and parents of the Class of 2020.
Young Americans are entering adulthood in scary and uncertain times. A recent Junior Achievement Teens Survey asked 1,000 teens about their concerns and future plans as a result of the pandemic. The top four included:
- 35 percent changed their future living situation
- 30 percent delayed their college start date
- 27 percent decided to work to accumulate money
- 18 percent changed the career path they wished to pursue
The concerns of these Junior Achievement teens mirror some of the major challenges or questions facing high school or college graduates:
- Gap years – Students may take a semester or year off after graduation for various development or educational pursuits such as travel, study abroad, internships, etc., for personal growth and exploration. However, some parents worry they may get off course.
- Academic implications – Popularity of remote learning has been on the rise. However, some argue they didn’t pay for online learning. Some courses cannot be taken online such as labs, music and art, and many technical programs (automotive, welding, dental hygiene, etc.). Others struggle with it versus other methods of learning. Will you get the credits needed to graduate, and perhaps to qualify for graduate school?
- A shorter college experience – What are the housing and dining options this coming fall? What flexibility can you build should if a resurgence requires another closure?
- Financial implications – What budget adjustments are necessary? Mom or Dad might have been furloughed and they may worry about their ability to retire. Is it time to revisit in-state, community or junior college?
- Job market – Seniors may face unprecedented job anxiety with record unemployment and some industries upended by COVID-19 such as airline, hospitality or leisure. However, the American economy is entering a restart phase. People will travel and recovery will happen. And it may look different with rising trends from this disruption including telecommuting, e-commerce and digital payment, new global supply changes, telemedicine and digital media, etc.
It’s okay to feel upset about the current state of the world. You’ve had a rough go of it – born in the shadow of 9/11 and graduating in the year of coronavirus is no small task. Don’t let roadblocks stop you from reaching your goals. Coronavirus solutions will come. And you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Find your way to celebrate your graduation with your biggest fans – your family and close circle of friends.
Congratulations and may you secure your future wisely.