As the rites of passage go on, few are as important as University graduation. The opening ceremony marks the end of one journey and the start of another. It is the culmination of years of hard work and a bridge to a future in the labor market or high school.
But graduating from college is also a dream denied to many. Among full-time undergraduates who began seeking a bachelor’s degree in 2011, 40% did not graduate within six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
For students approaching graduation, here’s a look at the big time milestones.
The path to graduation
The checklist for graduates is likely to vary by major, says Fred Corey, vice-president of undergraduate education at Arizona State University — Tempe. Some may need field internships or internships to meet graduation requirements. Others may require additional certification or a professional license once they enter their field as graduates.
“Students have to think long term,” says Corey.
This means that planning for graduation does not start as a senior, but much earlier.
Kevin Monahan, Associate Dean for Career and Professional Development at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, says students should start thinking about career options and goals early in order to create a solid resume.
Monahan strives to do just that, helping students think about options. “In their first year, we engage them in identifying opportunities that will help them develop their skills and link their academic learning to a potential career.”
Beyond thinking about career options, students will need to tick a number of boxes before donning their gown and mortar. Graduation requirements vary by college, but in general, students should expect to meet the minimum number of credits and the GPA for their program and may be required to complete a portfolio or final project.
Celebrate university graduation
When the big day finally arrives, students can look forward to celebrating with a graduation ceremony.
The scene for most beginnings is largely the same. Hundreds if not thousands of students and their families gather in an arena to celebrate. Students form the procession to collect their diplomas to the applause of family and friends. There may also be a lengthy speaker giving life and career advice before students can graduate and take selfies with their classmates.
Considering the importance of timing, graduates and families should make the most of the start, says Corey. “This is a very important ritual that students and their families enjoy; it becomes a kind of performance of accomplishment.”
But graduation day, like countless other rituals, was disrupted by many colleges modifying the beginning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some schools have decided to host virtual debuts, while others are rescheduling or canceling altogether.
Maria Reveles Gonzalez, graduate of the University of houston, does not know how she will celebrate the big day. “I would love to celebrate with my classmates, but if that is not possible, I will celebrate with my family who have supported me at home.”
The way she will celebrate comes down to a state of public health emergency. Graduating students should always mark the special occasion, experts say, and tap into modern interconnectivity to enjoy the long-awaited fruits of their labor.
“So what we need to do is find other ways to achieve this accomplishment, and what ASU is doing, along with many other universities, is creating a virtual online ceremony,” Corey said. . And even if it’s “not the same as the face-to-face environment, it’s still a ritual, it’s still a ceremony”.
He encourages students to wear their caps and gowns, attend the virtual ceremony and celebrate with their families. As with much of pandemic life, they should take advantage of technology and use video messaging apps to share the moment.
“What I would recommend is to create a different kind of event,” says Corey.
Students sidelined by the coronavirus should prioritize their health first, he adds. The ASU will allow seniors struggling with the added pressures of pandemic life to withdraw from school and return to summer classes to graduate in August, he says.
Students should seek help from their college for anything they need, be it counseling services or additional financial assistance. “They are unique. It is never safe for us to assume what a student needs,” says Corey. We really need to have one-on-one contact with this student to determine exactly what’s best for that person. “
Getting a job after graduation
Projections for when the economy will reopen in the wake of the coronavirus are a moving target. For graduates, this likely means a difficult and uncertain job market as employers reeling from the financial shock inflicted by the coronavirus.
Opportunities can be scarce for graduates and even begin to disappear for some students.
“The underclassmen hear about the cancellation of internship programs,” says Monahan.
According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 12% of employers are revoking summer 2020 internships. Others are looking to move internships online, where possible.
While times are tight, that doesn’t mean jobs aren’t available. As with any job market, availability varies by major. Monahan says data analytics, software engineering, healthcare, and supply chain management are now solid fields.
Students looking for a job, regardless of their specialty, should do the same thing they would in a normal job market, says Monahan: prepare their cover letter and resume, hone their interview skills. , identify potential employers and apply for jobs.
Like much of life today, the coronavirus has forced job fairs and career services to an online format. Monahan says students should tap into both, conduct virtual interviews with recruiters, and seek help from their college.
Corey encourages students to look at job postings and think about how the language used matches their talents and goals. Think about what the market wants, he says, and use that language in applications where it is precise and appropriate.
Reveles Gonzalez, who plans to enter the teaching field, is doing an online internship at an elementary school. As her college career draws to a close, she finds herself with a hurdle: the inability to pass exams for her teaching license.
“We cannot take our certification exams because the testing centers are closed,” she said. “We’re just waiting for it to come out.”
However, she sees it as a moment of professional growth in the midst of a crisis.
“I was able to use all these different online resourcesI’m learning to fit so many things into my classroom and all of these different websites that I can offer my kids. Things I probably wouldn’t have thought of, just because I wasn’t put in this situation, ”Revele Gonzalez said.
The reality for 2020 graduates is not the same as for the promotions that came before them.
“Our new graduates are going to have to accept that the job landscape is different from what it was a month ago, six months ago, than what their friends went through last year,” said Monahan. .
Graduates should network diligently establish an online presence and volunteer if possible. Those who fail to find a job right away should stay engaged in their field, he adds. “You don’t want time to go by without being aware of what’s relevant.”
It also encourages students to build a support network. “A tight job market can be extremely demoralizing if you try to do it completely on your own.”
Reveles Gonzalez encourages his fellow graduates to give themselves grace in these difficult times.
“If they haven’t figured it out,” she said, “it’s okay, because no one really knows.”