“Class of 2020”. These three words are apparently all that it takes to sum the experience of young graduates all over the world. But what effects did the pandemic actually have on students who graduated between 2020 and 2021?
Read about it in this article.
UCLA Professor of Economics Till von Wachter coined the term “unlucky cohorts” in one of his papers (Unlucky Cohorts: Entering the Labor Market in a Recession). It refers to those who graduate and/or enter the labor market during times of crisis and uncertainty, and those who graduated during the pandemic can surely relate to this definition.
Aside from the obvious economic consequences, to finish school in 2020 meant for most students a lack of closure.
Newly graduates didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to the people they had lived with for the past three to five years, nor the opportunity to actually celebrate the accomplishment of one of their biggest achievements.
Some universities in the US, such as the Medical University of South Caroline (also known as MUSC) with its drive-through diploma ceremony, organized alternative ceremonies in order to replace the traditional commencement. Nonetheless, most students were stuck celebrating their graduation in their old bedrooms.
For many 2020 graduates, the pandemic caused a major set-back in their life. They were forced back to their parents’ houses, and many of them lost their previous jobs – mostly in the service sector – as well as the opportunity to start fresh in the labor market. But this wasn’t the case for everyone.
Even though the economic crisis inevitably caused students to rethink their ambitions and plans, it wasn’t always for the worst.
Some of them took advantage of online lessons in order to further their education with masters and graduate programs, whereas some others decided to take a leap of faith and followed their true passions.
That’s what B. and S., two students who graduated in Italy in October 2020, did.
While B. chose to move to a different city and pursue acting, S. chose to attend an online master. But what were their original plans?
Hadn’t the pandemic happened, they would have both graduated a couple of months earlier. This would have given them – as Russian and German majors – the opportunity to travel and get to know their target languages better (e.g., through programs such as Erasmus+), and start their career on an international note as well. However, COVID-19 caused international programs to be cancelled or rescheduled at best, and they had to refocus their energies towards different aims.
Meanwhile, other students took advantage of TikTok’s boom amidst the pandemic to launch their small businesses: they sell everything from loungewear to candles and resin accessories. All it takes is a viral video, but long-term success is still a challenge.
Even though there are some brighter sides, the pandemic has definitely heightened the phenomenon known as post-graduation depression.
Young people usually identify themselves with being a student, but once they graduate, their status suddenly changes to unemployed. And this transition can be tough, especially if it takes place during – in chronological order – a pandemic, a recession, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.