• Whitney

An Unexpected End

To the college seniors: the goodbye that was never said.

Class of 2020, I never expected our college career to end this way. We were prepared for the final date party, club meeting, hug goodbye after graduation, but nothing prepares you for the email. The email stating something alone the lines of, “spring break had been extended, classes will be moved online, residence halls will be closed, and graduation has been postponed.”

I’ll admit, I was excited after the first email. Who doesn’t want an extended spring break?! I began planning what I would do and who I would see, until the next emails came.

Now meetings are cancelled, internships are over, classes are meeting over video chat, and graduation likely won’t happen. We won’t get a final meeting with our favorite clubs, an opportunity to thank our teachers during their office hours, a final wine night with our classmates, or a chance to attend spring career fairs.

Capstone projects will be presented via video. Communication with professors will be through email. Our groups will meet over FaceTime, and organizations will vote online. The formal dress will be moved to the back of our closet or returned to the store. We will leave GroupMe messages instead of saying proper goodbyes. The shoes we bought to wear across the stage will be worn in our first corporate job instead.

Class of 2020, we have worked hard. We deserve to put on our cap, gown, and cords, and walking across the stage at our dream university. We deserve to say goodbye to our friends. We deserve to sit in a classroom one last time. We deserve to present our semester-long projects. We deserve final goodbyes to be in person, on the day of final exams.

But you don’t always get what you deserve.

If I’ve learned one thing about life, it’s that it isn’t fair. No matter how hard you work, doors will be slammed in your face. There are times that you can’t control your circumstance. This is one of those times.

Nevertheless, we are taught to plan. We have a degree plan, a career plan, a life plan, and perhaps even a graduation plan. Lessons are learned the hard way, and we are all learning this one together: Things often do not go as planned.

If you’re anything like me, you hated high school. Senioritis started the day I walked through those doors Freshman year. I couldn’t wait to get to college, but I had no idea what those 4 years would bring. My college career has been an emotional rollercoaster. I transferred 3 times. Made and lost countless friends. Joined a sorority, then went alum early. Later I joined countless other clubs and organizations that I have loved, and I will leave pieces of my heart with.

Your college career may have been like mine, or you may have spent all 4 years somewhere you loved, or even somewhere you hated. Regardless, college is hard and walking across the stage at graduation is something everyone looks forward to, but we won’t have that moment.

Our time to shine was robbed from us. Our final goodbyes were as well. We didn’t think the day before spring break would be the last day we would walk across our campus, attend our club meetings, do our office hours, or eat in the cafeteria with our best friends.

But that is our reality.

Class of 2020, I want you to know that I am proud of you. That I am rooting for you to land your dream job, build a career you’re proud of, raise a family, and realize that the best 4 years of your life are likely in the future, and not in the past. I want you to know that even though your accomplishments won’t be showcased at senior recitals and honors presentation nights, they are extraordinary and you should be proud of yourselves. I want you to know that in 50 years, we will tell our grandkids about our college days with a smile on our faces.

Goodbye may have come abruptly and without being spoken. Perhaps this is why it hurts so much, but we can press forward and find the good in every goodbye. Cherish your time with your family, and take time to record your favorite college memories. Take photographs in your cap and gown. Create new memories and traditions. FaceTime your friends because we can get through this together.

Class of 2020, we will come out stronger than before. Since we weren’t able to put it in words, I have written our final goodbye:

To the universities that have built us,

Thank you. Thank you for the memories you gave us. Thank you for teaching us about our field of study, the people around us, and ourselves throughout the past 4 years. Thank you for the late night study sessions, the 3 a.m. food runs, the early morning coffee dates, the countless formals and date parties, the meetings we sometimes dreaded, and the professors that have equipped us with more than just what we need to succeed in our career. Thank you for the fitness classes, free t-shirts, events, mediocre cafeteria food, game day traditions, and tailgates. Thank you for teaching us everything from hard life lessons to Calculus. Thank you for our best friends and even our heartbreaks. Thank you for 4 years of laughing, learning, and loving. Thank you for helping us grow in our self image and in our career. Thank you for 4 amazing years of our lives and memories that we will cherish for years to come.

Thank you for doing what is best to protect us. It’s often unsaid in this crisis, but we understand that university personnel are looking out for us and our health. Thank you for that. It may be overlooked now, but we will be thankful down the road. This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.


The Class of 2020

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