Graduating in the age of COVID-19

For graduating students, the opportunity to don a cap and gown and stand on a podium while family cheers you on is an important rite of passage. For the class of 2021, commencement ceremonies will look different than they did pre-pandemic. Instead of celebrating graduation with friends and family, this spring’s graduates will be watching their names flash across the computer screen at home. But COVID-19 does not mean students cannot celebrate––for this year’s graduating class, here are a few tips to have the perfect celebration from the comfort of home. 

Celebrate your last final

It’s officially over. After doing nothing but cramming for finals, presentations, and research papers, you deserve a celebration. While all the bars, clubs, restaurants, and basically anything fun are closed, there are still ways to have fun: Instead of drinking alone indoors, move the party with family outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather.

Pick an outfit

Wearing your favorite outfit, doing your hair, and putting on makeup can make graduation feel more authentic. But let’s be real—doing all that would take too much effort, and the daily uniform of sweats and unbrushed hair is much more comfortable. So feel free to change up the graduation traditions this year, and do what you’ve been doing all semester and keep your camera off.

Host a virtual graduation party

The parties and celebrations leading up to convocation are perhaps the rosiest part of graduation, allowing students to reflect on their experience at McGill through rose-coloured glasses and forget about all the tears shed in McLennan. Of course, COVID-19 means no more Grad Balls, but who needs them when you can coordinate your own virtual graduation party. Nothing screams party like seeing your friends’ faces crowded into your computer screen. 

Show up on time

On graduation day, make sure to arrive on time to hear the commencement address. Unfortunately, if you live anywhere outside of the Eastern Time Zone, it may mean waking up at 4 a.m. to watch speakers try to figure out how to unmute themselves. If you find yourself busy on graduation day, you can always watch the recording later, just like how you’ve been doing for all of your classes. 

Have a photoshoot

Photos are undoubtedly the most important part of the graduation experience: Without a graduation picture on Instagram, did you even really graduate? But with no in-person ceremony this year, students will need to be creative with their pictures. If you’re a whiz at Photoshop, just insert yourself and your friends into some iconic McGill landmarks. Alternatively, you can take a more realistic grad photo. While you’re catching up on “Love is Blind,” throw on your cap and gown and take some portrait shots on your living room couch. After all, that is basically where you’ve attended school the past year. 

Post-ceremony

After the ceremony, grads typically go out to dinner with friends or family, where toasts are made, tears are shed, and drunken moments are shared on social media. There’s no reason why this year has to be any different. Make a toast to yourself in front of your bathroom mirror, cry at the thought of entering the workforce for the next 40 years of your life, and drink that wine, because you survived McGill.  

To say that this year did not go according to plan would be a gross understatement. Having missed out on many hallmark events and memories, it is only natural to feel a sense of sadness. Try and think about all of the things we gained from this unique experience, and share them with your friends, who might also be struggling to find the bright side. 

Congratulations to the class of 2021! We finally did it. 

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