By Michael Porter

As the days continue to speedily peel off of the calendar, it is easy for many soon-to-be graduates to forget about the reality that is rapidly approaching. “The real world,” as many call it, will soon replace the academic commitment that young adults have known for their entire lives.

For many students, this time is difficult emotionally. Although it is hard for some to admit, there is a level of attachment and nostalgia that is formed between a student and their many years of education. School is something that children are taught to embrace from a young age. At times it was loved, at other times it was resented. School provides a social environment that forces individuals to interact with others. While this may have been uncomfortable at times, it is responsible for memories and bonds that will forever be cherished. Every August, during the final nights of summer, the unique combination of nervousness, anticipation and excitement that comes with beginning a new school year reemerged. Upon accepting a college degree, all of these familiar occurrences will become nothing more than a memory.

The transitional period that follows a college graduation is one that comes with major future implications. For some, the job hunt begins and for others, it concludes. The ongoing pandemic has made this hectic time period increasingly difficult for many students who may have had their post-college plans arranged for months or even years. The class of 2021 has faced unprecedented levels of adversity and all that is certain about what lies ahead, is that there will be roadblocks in the way of countless pre-established dreams.

Although the coming months are set to bring change at an uncomfortable speed, the past year has prepared the class of 2021 for what is to come. The aforementioned roadblocks are manageable, and the resilience that was gained during this past year will ultimately pave a path to success.

There will be a brief period of reflection that will come once college degrees have been distributed. A period that is sure to include memories of waiting at the bus stop, learning how to spell, playing at recess, making a first school sports team, preparing for the SAT exam, applying for colleges, receiving a diploma, saying goodbye before leaving home for the first time, meeting a roommate, hours of studying, academically thriving during a pandemic and so much more. This reflection is normal, and expected, yet so frightening to imagine.

Although receiving a much-deserved college degree is a goal that was set four years ago, it is sure to be a bittersweet moment. While this moment will officially symbolize the end of a seemingly lifelong chapter, it will also represent the beginning of a brand new story.