More than a year ago, the world began to fall apart at the seams. I vividly remember the stress each of you was feeling and some of our difficult conversations. There was much uncertainty—What’s going to happen with spring SAT/ACT exams? AP exams? The Model UN Conference? A summer trip to visit grandparents? Reflecting on my conversations with you, there were so many disappointments, tears, and frustration. I remember feeling drained every day because I didn’t have answers for you and my words of encouragement seemed hollow even to my ears.
And yet, life carried on. And you developed more mental strength, resilience, and coping strategies than you had before. In the history of our country, we’ve never had a class of students apply to college and graduate high school during a global pandemic, but you did.
Experiencing obstacles, setbacks, and frustration builds character. How you react to them (and recover from them) says a lot and all of you have shown such resilience, grace, and strength this year. I know there have been disappointments related to your college applications. Maybe you didn’t get admitted into that first-choice school. Possibly you were waitlisted at the school you thought was a “sure thing”. That school that only admits 5% of students?—it’s likely you weren’t among them.
It’s going to be okay. This year has been full of setbacks, but that’s how life is. In college, you may not get the dorm you want, or the internship you apply to, or get into your favorite fraternity or sorority. But it’s going to be alright because you’ve already experienced disappointment, and the tools you learned this year (flexibility, a positive outlook, relying on the support of friends and family, meditation, marathon gaming sessions with your friends – whatever coping strategies you developed this past year) will also help you recover from setbacks in college and in life.
While I didn’t want this year for you, I’m grateful to have experienced it with you. The grace you have exhibited inspires me and I know that you will carry that forward. I’m hopeful and confident for a “normal” college experience for you including classroom learning, sporting events, cramped dorm rooms with late-night conversations with your new friends, and all that you look forward to.
Hats off to you Class of 2021 (but not my mask – let’s keep those on just a tiny bit longer).
With Admiration and High Regard,