To address the coronavirus pandemic, many colleges and universities have closed their doors and moved classes online — a shift that students, professors, administrators and public health officials agree will play an important role in limiting the virus’ transmission. 

In the United States, at least 1,149 colleges and universities have closed so far and the condition is same in India, affecting over 14 million students. And students who were preparing to graduate this spring are feeling a range of emotions as their college careers come to an abrupt end. 

We Make It spoke with college seniors to learn how coronavirus has disrupted their final months before graduation and how the class of 2020 became known as the class of COVID-19.

Rushed goodbyes

On March 16, Universities in India announced that classes would be moved online and gave students five days to evacuate their dorms. 

Canceled commencement ceremonies

Indeed, many college seniors expect there will be no commencement ceremony to commemorate their collegiate accomplishments. 

“If [graduation] happens — if it’s able to be put on — everyone still won’t be there,” says , referencing the financial realities and public health barriers that would likely prevent some students and their families back from traveling back to campus just for a ceremony. “It’s hard to imagine my 92-year-old grandmother traveling to graduation under the current circumstances.”

The likelihood that graduation ceremonies will be canceled strikes a harsh chord for students who have spent their lives working toward their college degrees. 

“The fact that we might not even have a graduation is probably the biggest thing for me because I worked so hard these last four years,”, a senior at the College Make It. “And the fact that I can’tshare that moment with my family, my friends, myself — it’s just devastating.

“It would honestly break my heart if the school just mailed us our diploma and just said, ‘OK, have a great life,’” she says.

Some students took the issue into their own hands and held their own “fauxmencement ceremonies” before their campuses closed. students coordinated their own unofficial graduation in which no administrators spoke, no diplomas were distributed and students said their own names into a microphone. Students used garbage bags as graduation gowns and made tassels out of yarn during an impromptu ceremony of their own.