'Don't idly sit by': College seniors look to next chapter amid pandemic

The Class of 2020 is clinging to their final moments before a significant chapter of their lives comes to a close.

Posted: May 4, 2020 7:01 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The pandemic has altered the livelihood for individuals around the world as everyone adjusts to a different type of day-to-day life.

Meanwhile, the Class of 2020 is clinging to their final moments before a significant chapter of their lives comes to a close. For college seniors, no one would have expected their senior year to end in the middle of a pandemic. Many are left seeking clarity on the future and wondering what is next.

“Day by day, everything changed so fast,” University of Oregon senior Owen Seiler said.

Seiler said he’s contemplated taking a gap year, or picking up another major or minor, but is also continuing to look for a job.

“A ton of what ifs are running through my mind,” Seiler said. “You know, there's some days where I'm like, it's going to be okay. This is a good time to work on your craft, work on yourself, get into a new routine and try new things. Then there's other times where it's like, oh my gosh, I'm gonna be living at home forever.”

RELATED: UO FINDS NEW WAYS TO HONOR GRADUATES DURING PANDEMIC

The student debt crisis only adds to the uncertainty that many students feel, as a student typically has six months to start repaying their loans.

It’s estimated that student loan debt has reached around $1.56 trillion across the United States, and with the economy nearly shut down, college seniors are wondering what those next steps will be for entering the workforce and being responsible for student loans.
Other students shared that this is just not how they envisioned the chapter closing.

“It's very discomforting knowing that this is how my four years of college are going to end,” UO senior Bernice Amaya said. “As a first generation student, I never imagined this. My parents didn't imagine this. My dad is actually an immigrant, so I know he himself and his family were really looking forward to just cheering me on at graduation."

Amaya said that while it is an uncertain time for many, it’s important to continue looking forward to things one can control.

“Don't idly sit by,” Amaya said. “This is your time to be proactive for your future and also just build those connections. We have Zoom. We have FaceTime. The world isn't completely put on pause. You can still, you know, just do things that'll help you.”

“If it's anything that you think is going to help you, you know, make money -- a small job or an odd job -- do it," Seiler said. "It will get you out to a routine to get your mind moving a little bit so you're not just stuck in the house or stuck in your head."

The University of Oregon will be holding a virtual ceremony on June 20, and an in-person commencement will take place in June 2021.

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