Final year teaching has come to an end. Now what?
Ellie Tomlin 13 April 2021
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
Image courtesy of Stephen Train on Flickr, 'January 18th - HMP Cornwallis', 2007
Final year classes ended as they began: in my bedroom, staring at a screen, praying my Wi-Fi holds up in a graveyard of empty tea mugs and biscuit crumbs.
The last few seminars of my university career were somewhat anti-climactic; a brief discussion of future plans (whatever they may be), some good luck wishes for exams (goodness knows we’ll need it) and we were sent on our merry way. I clicked leave before everyone else- normally I’m too slow with my mouse- and returned alone to my room and a blank screen. University degree? Nearly over. A term of exams? All online. Revision sessions? Non-existent. Graduation ceremony? Postponed.
Aside from the obvious question “what on earth are we paying nine grand for”, fear has been creeping in at the thought of “what am I going to do with my life?”. As has become habit when faced with such agonising questions, I ignored the nagging thought and popped the kettle on.
But realistically, what kind of world are we graduating into? I feel a great deal of empathy for my friends taking courses such as Music and Drama. How can you find a job in a market that is on its knees? We’ve all seen horror stories on the news: every part-time job is getting up to 1000 applicants. How can you even start to fight that?
I’m a French student who wants to travel and live in Europe. Ever since I started my first part-time job, I’ve been saving for a “gap year”—a yearlong break before facing adult life— and I know countless people who have similar aspirations. I am faced with this dilemma: do I try and find myself a local supermarket job just to kill the time and pray the world gets back on its feet? Or do I go ahead and attempt to cross borders, find a job overseas and see where the world takes me? I want to go with the latter, but I’ll probably be safer taking the former option.
The pandemic has taken away the possibility of adventure. It has quite literally robbed young people of their future. It’s forced us into making big decisions with a limited set of options. When the lecturer asked about our plans, not one of my classmates could answer. We have no plan.
Usually, if there’s a career or sector you are interested in, you are advised to search for available volunteering and work experience opportunities. I searched these for myself last week but was always met with the same message: "due to the pandemic, we are no longer offering this opportunity". Young people, and not just graduates, need opportunities. We need experience and we don’t want to be stuck in a job simply because there were no others available. We want to discover what the country and the world has to offer. We don’t want to just return home because there is nowhere else to go.
If you have no clue what your future will hold, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’ll work through this. If you have employment lined up or even the slightest inclination of what you might want to do, hats off to you.
Good luck in the upcoming exams and class of 2021: we made it to the end of our degrees after strikes and a global pandemic and that is pretty impressive. We might not have a graduation in the Summer, but we did it. We made it to the end of our degrees. And for that, we deserve huge congratulations.
A very conflicted final year student.