Graduating in 2020 Has Just Gotten a Whole Lot Rougher

Charlie Cooling

Let’s be real, it was always going to be rough: financial uncertainty, an official end to opportunities to move frictionlessly to the EU (unless you are one of the lucky ones with a Greek grandparent), increasing competition in the graduate job market, and least of all a bat-fuelled global pandemic have ensured that students flying their cozy nest of blurry nights out and poorly attended lectures have even less to look forward to than graduates in a “normal” year.

This painful decrease of financial certainty would normally have been softened by one last hurrah: one day of drinking in the last few hours spent on campus, hurling a mortar board in the manner of a boomerang into the air – as if tossing away all the coming years of dread, only for it to inevitably come plummeting back towards you – and finally necking a fair few beverages to numb the impending doom post-ceremony. 

This is what 2020’s graduates should have been looking forward to, but what we will be met with is far worse: a Zoom call soundtracked by a grainy rendition of ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. Not only is this indicative of a Through the Looking Glass virtual hellscape, it is in no uncertain terms downright depressing. Tell me what could be worse than sitting on a video call, dressed relatively smartly from your boxers up, waiting for your name to be called out by VC Charlie Jeffery sat in front of his far superior bookshelf to yours, which you’ve worked on as hard as possible to ensure you can squeeze in as many of the orange-spined Penguin books into frame to appear well read, to the music of Kraftwerk and the REM (the sleep cycle, not the band)? I struggle to do so. 

Also, I am worried that only one song has been selected for a ceremony that will likely run on for an hour or so. Does this mean we are going to have to contend with ‘Happy’ on repeat for thirty straight renditions? I am, however, provided solace by the fact that some of the alternative song choices that were on offer for students to vote on were somehow even worse – and yes, the fact that York students freely voted for ‘Happy’ as their graduation song softens the blow of leaving undergrad life behind massively. Talk about lack of taste from your peers, surely something like ‘Into the Void’ by Black Sabbath or ‘It’s The End of The World As We Know It’ by the aforementioned band (not the sleep cycle) would capture the expectations, and mood, of graduates better. 

Other nominations included cheerful classics such as ‘Let It Go’ (“it” referring to your hopes and dreams of a comfortable life), and the obligatory ironic option of ‘All Star’ by Smash Mouth. I would have unwaveringly preferred this due to the warm, fuzzy reminder of Flares it would provide for a few seconds before remembering I’m no longer on a sticky dance floor but instead sat at my rather bland desk. 

Either way, life for everyone, not just recent-graduates, is going to be a bit topsy-turvy for a while, and if a bit of crappy pop music is what the masses would prefer, then so be it; the mute button was created for a reason, after all.

Image credit: Tony Hisget