Celebrating the End of the Year

The end of the academic year is a time of transition for students, whether they’re just finishing up their first year or getting ready to graduate. As classes end and final exams begin, a “normal” end of the year is usually filled with recognition and celebration of all that was accomplished. This might be an awards night, a final club meeting, one last night hanging out with friends, or for seniors, commencement. During this time of year every member of our community is feeling the loss of these activities and milestones due to all that is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the end of this year isn’t what anyone was hoping for or expecting, there are still ways to connect, celebrate, and close out the year.

  • Celebrate in a Special Way – Get take-out from a favorite restaurant, make a fancy dinner at home – anything outside of the regular routine can create a special celebration to mark the end of the year.
  • Connect with Your People – Encourage your student to set up some social time with friends and family using skype or zoom. Being intentional about times to connect, especially during the end of the year as we transition to summer, can help provide some important closure.
  • Celebrate Commencement at Home – Stream the UMass Lowell online commencement ceremony with family and skype in friends and family from away. The day can still be all about celebrating your student and the amazing accomplishments that they’ve made. Ask your family and friends to send cards or short videos congratulating your graduate.
  • Celebrate Grades “Throw-Back” Style – Remember when good grades earned a spot on the refrigerator? Now is the time to bring it back! Ask your student about their grades and hang ones that your student is proud of in the place of honor.
  • Make a Bucket List – Social distancing has been tough for everyone. Every time you think of something you would want to do with your student, or a way you would want to celebrate with your student, write it down and keep a list for when we are all able to go out and about.  

You and your student made it through a difficult time and a very unexpected end of the semester. There’s a lot to be proud of and a lot to celebrate.

Navigating a New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a significant amount of change and transition for students and families in an incredibly short amount of time. Families are working together to find a new “normal.” Diane Shelley, the parent of a current UMass Lowell senior shares her perspective on supporting her son in his last semester as a college student.

Diane and her son Steven, a senior biology major

“Spring break began with my son just looking forward to some downtime. Little did we know that his time home would be through the remainder of his last semester as a senior at UMass Lowell. I wondered how to help him stay motivated and social at the same time.

Do I let him sleep in instead of getting up at 7am every day?  I had to take a step back and remember that he is an adult and had the responsibility to decide this on his own.  I’m proud of him for attending all of his virtual classes, submitting assignments on time and completing tests.  Socially, we meet every day for lunch and dinner to “talk” about our days. The others in the household are all working from home so we each go to our work area in the morning, meet for lunch then have dinner together. It almost seems like our normal routines without the commute.

Checking in with each other is key. We talk about the classes he has and how it is going, asking about his friends and how they are doing and how his professors are handling virtual classes. His contact with his friends online is essential, you need conversations outside of the house. During his downtime he is gaming and talking with a group online and has set up a group for an online tabletop game.  This was not what he or I envisioned for his final undergrad semester, but we’ll help him get through this. 

While Commencement will not be happening on May 16, I will make it a celebration day to acknowledge his hard work over the past 4 years.  When Commencement does occur we will celebrate this milestone with family and friends!”