COVID-19 social distancing means no large gatherings. That unfortunately includes graduation. While alternate commencement ceremonies are in the works, they are no replacement for the real deal. However, commencement is only one part of graduation.

Personal celebration provides the most opportunity to reminisce about your college years and commemorate a new life chapter. Here are a few ways to remotely celebrate graduation.

Zoom your friends

At the very least, online classes taught us Zoom. Take advantage of this newfound knowledge.

Social distancing can be lonely — socially distant graduation even more so. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Your friends have also graduated and may want to celebrate. Celebrate together!

Get onto a zoom call with them, reminisce about the past, discuss future plans or what have you. Friendship and connection are an important college experience. It would be a shame to not commemorate it.

Take more senior pictures

You may have taken senior photos, but more would never hurt. After all, what’s the point in having robes if you don’t wear them? What was the point in earning stoles if you can’t show them off?

Socially distant senior photos offer unique challenges and opportunities. You can still take some around UT if you’re in the area. If not, you are working with your immediate surroundings.

Take some photos around the house and yard, take some in your room, vary the poses and locations. The circumstances aren’t great, but you at least have the opportunity to create some unique pictures.

Redecorate your room

Your environment affects how you feel and act, so create a pleasant one. You want to celebrate, and celebrations entail decoration.

Deck your place with Class of 2020 gear; put up some streamers and UT gear.

You can print out some photos that remind you of college and hang them on your walls. Decorate your door with your UT experiences. You can blow up some “Class of 2020” balloons before singing “Rocky Top.” Go wild.

Get into the celebratory mindset.

Order some food just for you

Graduation is one of the universal “treat yourself” life moments. Nothing says “treat yourself” like a big meal all to yourself.

You have shared many things with friends and family, but no more. This is your accomplishment. You went to class, turned in assignment after assignment, received grade after grade and overcame struggle after struggle.

You have more than earned the opportunity to eat a whole pizza.

Journal about your college years

Whether you’ve been at UT for four years or 40, you have had some formative experiences.

Graduation is a time of remembrance. It is a culmination of many years of studying, working and playing. It is also an ending. One chapter of life is closing and another one is beginning. That’s life, but it’s worth remembering and even mourning.

Take some time to look back and write about your college years. Introspect about how much you’ve grown. Remember those experiences — both positive and negative — that helped you grow.

Then, at the end of it all, close the book and plan the future. We have got long lives ahead of us, and graduation is the beginning of a new stage of that life. 

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