Editorial — Graduating seniors encouraged to celebrate achievements uniquely

With finals week just around the corner, seniors at NMU are undoubtedly counting down the days until they graduate.

For those who intend on graduating this semester, the North Wind Editorial Board would like to congratulate you on your academic achievement and completion of a degree or certificate program. As students during the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that working through these past few semesters has been no easy task. 

From mask mandates to lockdowns, social distancing to online learning, our willpower as students of higher education has certainly been tested. But, along with learning within our chosen areas of study, we have also acquired several other valuable skills and lessons outside of the classroom that have contributed to our overall academic success at NMU.

As Fall 2022 graduates, you have certainly learned to become more adaptable — especially regarding canceled classes, switching to remote learning and alternative modes of communication. To stay on top of things in a limited academic setting, you had to learn how to better manage your time and operate independently as a student. 

In becoming self-reliant, however, it is possible that you often found yourself more exhausted, overburdened and from time to time entirely consumed by schoolwork and the many other stressors that exist in day-to-day life. 

To combat this, you learned to prioritize yourself as a human being first, putting your level of academic success second. While all of us are on individual self-care journeys, we saw an increased emphasis on the importance of mental health at all levels of society over the past two years. 

While more work has yet to be done by administrators in this area, as students we learned that it is okay to take mental health days. We learned that it is okay to lay in bed all day, putting the anxieties of homework and exams aside as we learned to prioritize our well-being first. 

With all of that combined, earning a degree is not an easy task. Your perseverance as an NMU student should not go unrecognized, especially considering the rate at which students are currently graduating from the university. Earning your diploma this semester is an incredible feat that should be celebrated.

Graduation is what you make it, and how that celebration of academic achievement looks is entirely up to you. 

Many students will opt for the traditional graduation route. This includes participating in the formal ceremony at the Superior Dome, walking onstage to receive your diploma and attending the reception at the Northern Center. 

For many students, this formal ceremony is the closing of a life chapter that has dominated the past several years of their lives. Most graduates this semester will not pursue a graduate degree upon receiving their diploma, meaning that the routine of formal schooling that has become second nature will quickly be replaced by life in the workforce — which will become the new normal up until retirement. 

Other students, however, will choose to opt out of the graduation ceremony and celebrate on their own terms. This decision is completely understandable as well. 

The act of graduating can be quite expensive. Caps, gowns and tassels are not cheap. NMU currently sells all three at the bookstore for over $60. On top of that expense, the cost of professional photos, dining out and finding affordable housing for visiting family members to stay in — all of which tend to accompany the traditional graduation experience — are not cheap either.

Granted, none of this is required to have an enjoyable graduation experience.

So if your prerogative is to steer clear of the status quo for your graduation celebration, by all means, do so. Considering the struggle and strife we have been put through as students of the COVID-19 pandemic, we deserve to celebrate however we want.

If relaxing with friends and ordering takeout is what you want to do on graduation day, do it. No one has the power to control how you wish to celebrate this monumental achievement.