At the beginning of May, many students are usually preparing final projects and studying for exams. For seniors, they do these end-of-year rituals along with their capstone work to prepare to walk across the stage to new jobs and opportunities. Now, after one month of staying inside and practicing social distancing, college seniors are taking big hits in their final weeks at school, including being unsure on how to move into the future and mourning the loss of their great last moments of collegiate fun.
Some students, like Caroline Rhett, a music education major from Hattiesburg, decided that pursuing graduate school was the most reliable option for her for the time being.
“I chose to pursue a master’s degree this year much because of the uncertainty in the hiring world due to COVID-19. I always wanted a second degree, but did not originally plan to continue this year,” Rhett said.
Despite the job economy turned askew due to this pandemic, many other students, like Taylor Van Fleet, a speech pathology major from Clinton, are keeping to her professional career goals. Van Fleet wants to pursue her master’s at Southern Miss. As she is already accepted into the program, Van Fleet shared concerns about what setbacks may occur in her work in the middle of this pandemic.
“I don’t think graduate school would be cancelled, but I am concerned about it continuing to be online instead of going back to on campus classes. My major has a huge clinical aspect to it. I am concerned about how we would be able to get that experience if COVID-19 were to cause the campus or the clinic to remain closed,” Van Fleet said.
Other students are going back to their hometowns to pursue their careers in opportunities elsewhere. Rachel Silva, a senior psychology major with a minor in child and family studies, is returning home to Tampa, Florida. She will make the return home once she finishes two last summer classes. With more leeway than other May graduates, Silva plans to return home in July to be a trainee in a sheriff’s office and graduate in August. Although she does have an opportunity ahead, Silva’s fears about landing a permanent professional job are nonetheless heightened.
“I definitely feel like my anxiety has been higher due to COVID-19, because I am worried that when August comes [the] majority of the places I planned on applying to will not be hiring due to cuts and that I will not be able to find a job for a while. If I was a senior graduating in summer, I would be panicking, because I wouldn’t be sure if I would be able to find a job upon graduation,” Silva said.
Silva, Rhett and Van Fleet all have immediate plans for the future, but which varies in solidity due to the current pandemic. Despite these circumstances, all seniors nationwide are making efforts to improve their chances of work by pursuing mobile opportunities or continuing their education further.