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How Covid-19 will shape the Class of 2023 for the rest of their lives

By Casey M Harding Feb 10, 2023
Classrooms were eerily quiet from March onwards. Credit: Photo by Macy Fosker/Shutterstock

As of March 2020, young people’s lives and dreams were basically stopped in their tracks.

The last few months of secondary school are normally filled with treasured rites of passage like graduation, prom, and a week of life changing exams.

But for the Class of 2023, there was to be no splendour and ceremony – literally or figuratively.

Secondary school graduation is one of life’s only clean transitions, a final passage from adolescence to adulthood that is predictable in ways other transitions rarely are.

School is one of the sure things in life that ends with a fresh start. Except when it doesn’t.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 forced swift and sudden school closures across the world, with the majority of students being dismissed for a half term with no end.

Overnight, everything changed. We found themselves housebound, stripped of our freedoms, stranded from our social circles, and thrust into the unknown territory of virtual learning.

Virtual teaching became the new norm. Credit: Chris Montgomery/Unsplash

One by one, much anticipated milestones were abruptly unceremoniously postponed. Then cancelled.

In some cases, replaced with remote alternatives that, while well-intentioned,
hardly served as adequate substitutes.

While grappling with these unwelcome changes, millions of young adults were also confronted with an even more unpredictable future: a first year of university that was destined to look and feel unlike any other.

Carefree freshers’ week, giddy orientations, horizon broadening classroom discussions were superseded by social distancing and masks, gradual phase-ins, and experimental hybrid curriculums.

Charlotte Evans, a third year dance student at Kingston University said: “The sense of isolation, the change in routines, the panic and confusion over what the future holds triumphed over the excitement and adrenaline of starting university.”

When looking back at our university time, the effect the pandemic has had on student’s social skills, grades and motivation is more than apparent in the graduating Class of 2023.

This already vulnerable group was hit with the relentless challenges of disappointment, uncertainty, and loss. It set the stage for an unprecedented surge in depression, anxiety, and impulsivity.

As university graduation looms, students are set to leave the comforts of campus to find their way in the raw wilderness of the job market.

We are staggering into a world that has been drastically altered in the last few years, becoming in some ways unrecognisable.

The virus and the economic shock waves it has unleashed didn’t just affect our time at university but will have enduring implications on the Class of 2023, for our memories, our earning power, and our view of what it means to have a functional society.

By Casey M Harding

Sub editor

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