With less than a month away for the class of 2020 commencement, tensions are high and emotions are bittersweet. Around the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to all in-person school activities, including classes, sporting events and extracurriculars. While the need to cancel graduation commencements in favor of online ones has many graduates disappointed, graduates (as of now) will be able to attend the December graduation ceremony and should do so.
UCI will be hosting its online class of 2020 commencement on Saturday, June 13. With or without a pandemic, this is an incredibly important moment for our graduating class. The happiness of finally advancing to the next great step for our undergraduates is marred by its fully online format, but there is a silver lining for those hoping to attend their commencement in person. According to the UCI commencement site, “if you participate in June’s virtual commencement, you are allowed to participate and walk in a December ceremony if you meet your degree requirements.” Although a latent in-person commencement makes it difficult for travel plans to be scheduled, puts newly started careers on hold for a few days, or simply is a pain to wait for, it will be a worthwhile compromise for those able to set aside time to attend.
If you do not plan on attending the online commencement, please consider doing so. I’ve known a lot of graduates over the years (myself included) who ditched their high school, community college or undergraduate commencement ceremonies for one reason or another. Speaking strictly of myself and friends, every single one of us regretted not attending our commencement in the following years. This year will be unique because many students who otherwise would’ve attended their in-person graduation will be tempted to treat commencement day like any other due to it being online, but please do not sleep through graduation.
An important consideration when deciding on attending the online commencement is whether or not you plan on attending the in-person commencement. It’s easy to blow off the virtual commencement if you plan on going to the in-person one in December, but due to the unorthodox timing, complications may occur that prevent you from attending. Many graduating students will be at the cusp of their first career job or may still be searching for one, and cutting two to three days out of December might become very difficult to follow through with. Plan ahead by letting your new jobs know about the dates well in advance, or if you’re fortunate enough to have a part-time job before graduation, start saving up now in case you don’t have your first full-time position by December. If it comes to the point where you can’t attend your in-person winter ceremony, having at least attended the virtual commencement will save you a second round of graduation heartache and having that extra cash saved will help cushion the yearly Christmas gift shopping spree.
UCI’s class of 2020 graduating seniors are a special group of scholars that sacrificed so much at the end of their undergraduate or graduate career in order to fight off the COVID-19 pandemic, and online commencements are a heartbreaking side effect of that sacrifice. Put on your cap, gown, dress shoes and heels, and power through the bittersweet speeches, the virtual confetti, the pixelated handshakes and the isolation. Because Even if your moment isn’t what you hoped it would be, it’s still your moment to celebrate the struggles that brought you to graduation. The pandemic halted every aspect of modern life but schools are still dedicated to offering seniors a graduation; UCI’s silver lining is that you may still attend an in-person ceremony come December, but don’t discredit your place at the virtual commencement.
David Andrews is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 spring quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.