4 Ways Graduating During A Financial Crisis Changed Me Forever

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I never imagined my final semester of my undergraduate degree to end in a global pandemic, endless assignments submitted by e-mail, and a cancelled convocation ceremony, but that’s what I got!

Graduating during a financial crisis has been a test of my strength, and an overwhelming moment in time. It’s impacted me in many ways, but I’ve shared the most significant, and how I’m coping with this new way of life.

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Job prospects are slim to none

I already knew graduating with a B.A in Professional Writing might not get me my dream job immediately after graduation. But what I didn’t expect was the incredibly limited opportunities for job applications that came along with the pandemic.

I had already started applying for the odd job here and there before my university shut down, and after that happened I could hardly find any available positions to apply for where I met the qualifications. Companies are facing the economic and productive brunt of the pandemic, so most hiring has been put on hold.

I wasn’t even able to apply for part time work to support me along with my current writing gigs because all businesses like coffee shops and retail stores were being closed!

I had to deal with the reality of having no substantial savings

As a university student it is very unlikely you’ll have any significant savings to your name. And how could you? After four years of paying for tuition fees, school supplies, housing, and more, all while trying to study your hardest, you have no time or money to focus on consistent savings.

When you graduate into a financial crisis, global pandemic, and overall apocalyptic craziness, you’re bound to dwell on these things. You’re bound to wonder what could have been had you just avoided Starbucks and studied at home.

So, I was savings-less and a little upset with myself. Though, I had no real reason to be! But still, I worried I’d have nothing to fall back on especially knowing my employer was taking a hit much like many others. This drove me into an intense research mode of finding alternative sources of incomes and ways to save on my already necessary spending. 

I unexpectedly lost health coverage

My final university semester was starting to wind down and I started scheduling all my essential healthcare appointments for the spring. I had a a check-up and cleaning scheduled at the dentist, a consult with my family doctor to check in on my health and medications, and a couple other routine check ups.

Unfortunately, just as the pandemic exploded and businesses started to close, all of these appointments were quickly canceled. I have yet to be able to re-schedule them and am no longer on a student healthcare plan. This has left me lacking health coverage indefinitely. 

It affected the learning quality of my final semester

I had a couple courses that were already online. The quality of my regular classes changed drastically when they were transferred online. Not only was it hard to cope with such a big change during my final semester, but I truly believe I got less lout of those courses than I could have.

This loss of quality learning easily translates to a loss of money considering how much tuition costs. Plus, the anxiety of existing during such a time did not help my focus or work capacity. I did not do as well as I could have during my final semester because of this.

How I’ve been able to cope with graduating during a financial crisis

Despite my struggles, I have still been able to find ways to cope throughout this crisis. Though, it has been no easy feat. It is a job in itself, one heavy with emotion, to try to survive something like this. 

I was eligible for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit

Should you meet each of the eligibility requirements ,the CESB provides $1,250/ month in funding for current students and recent graduates who are struggling with their finances due to Coronavirus. For disabled students or students who have dependents, the CESB provides you with $2,000/ month.

As long as you still meet the requirements, you can apply for the CESB each 4 week period until the end of August. Having the ability to receive this funding as someone whose money only supports herself and one pet has been a great comfort in getting through this. Knowing I have the support of an extra $1,250/ month outside of my regular income keeps my anxiety at bay knowing I can pay all my essential bills and care for myself in the coming months.

I’ve been seeking work instead of letting it find me

As a writer, a lot of my income potential relies on putting myself out there, so to speak. I’ve reached out to past clients not only to seek work, but to suggest ideas and make my own work in a way. In addition to this, I have been working on optimizing my portfolio to attract new clients.

While a pandemic does not require you to be productive all things considered, some of us do not have the luxury of taking time off work when we are at risk of losing it and still need to take care of ourselves.

I’ve saved money by not using public transit 

One of the most crushing realizations I’ve had during this pandemic is that I have been spending so much of my budget on transit. Quarantine obviously eliminated my need to commute. And this has saved me a crazy amount of money that I’ve been able to put toward purchasing healthier groceries and not having to worry about paying my internet bill on time. 

To get to and from school it was costing me about $25/day. Given my schedule, this came out to a grand total of approximately $300/month. Yes, I had a bit of a lengthy commute!

I’m planning my next steps 

This particular point has been helping my mental health immensely during my self-isolation. Looking forward to future prospects has given me some more optimistic moments. The past year of my undergrad, I’ve been debating the idea of applying for grad school.

Recently, I took the time to find an amazing program that meets tons of my expectations for an MFA. Now that I’ve done plenty of research on the program, I’ve been scheduling components of the application into my work week.

To all my fellow new grads: we’ll be okay

And so will our money.

It might take time, but eventually we’ll steady our footing in this world as university graduates. Make sure to look into any government funding you can take advantage of to help you during this time and take care of yourself however you can.

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