Campus News

Fall 2020 graduates grapple with remote learning, job market conditions

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

For students graduating in Fall 2020, multiple semesters of remote learning and a virtual commencement are not the experiences that they might have imagined upon enrollment at UH.

Human Nutrition and Foods senior Kimberly Mease feels that the non-traditional fall semester, with its lack of in-person classes and activities, provides less closure to her college experience than a conventional semester might have.

“I think that having all of my classes online this semester is going to be very strange, and I’m going to be left feeling like I’m not prepared even though I’ll have completed all of the classes for my degree,” Mease said. 

Following the University’s transition to remote operations in March, Mease found the shift difficult and felt that she was no longer learning as much in her courses.

“Only one of my classes in the spring was originally online, so moving to remote classes for the rest was a challenge,” Mease said. “I definitely absorb more information from in-person classes, so I feel like I didn’t learn as much last semester as I could have.”

In addition to her course load, Mease has begun taking steps to prepare for graduation.

“I haven’t really done much to prepare to graduate,” Mease said. “I have a resume ready for after graduation, but that’s about all.”

The University will hold a virtual commencement in December for all graduating classes from Spring, Summer and Fall 2020. This decision comes after the coronavirus pandemic paused all in-person graduation ceremonies for the spring and summer semesters. 

“I know many of our seniors, graduate students and their families were terribly disappointed when commencement was cancelled in May,” President Renu Khator said in an Aug. 17 announcement.  

“While it is possible conditions may be more conducive to an in-person gathering, committing to a virtual event will give everyone predictability and eliminate the need for travel and the possibility of last-minute cancellations,” Khator continued. 

Like thousands of other college graduates entering the workforce in the midst of the pandemic, Mease is apprehensive about applying for jobs during a period of record unemployment and hiring freezes. 

Aspiring to work in school nutrition, Mease acknowledges that this may have to wait until the impact of the coronavirus on the nation’s economy has lessened. 

“I’ll most likely have to find a job elsewhere until things settle down and we find a sense of normalcy again,’ Mease said. 

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