With the clamour of the Leaving Certificate disbanded and the dust settling for this year’s class of 2020, it might be time to think about the thousands of final-year college students around the country. 

Dreams of imminent employment, a summer spent travelling or even emigration beckoned from early March, but it seems like that dream has now been taken away. COVID-19 has decimated all aspects of normality. It seems like a dream to think a couple of months ago, we were celebrating the new year, unaware of the carnage it would bring. 

To many, the plight of the final year students may go unheard. There’s much more pressing issues in our community – childcare, economic woes and the mass destruction of our population by this global pandemic. 

But to us, this year was supposed to be important. We worked hard. Many of us are paying for our third level education, whether it be our undergraduate or a Masters degree. We worked long and arduous hours in a variety of sectors: retail, hospitality and tourism, and we just wanted it to count for something. 

We understand that life comes first, but when over half of individuals aged 18-24 are now availing of this COVID-19 payment, it strikes you that young people are being disproportionately affected by the virus. 

When the country experienced the economic downturn in the 1980’s and 2008, many of the country’s young people decided to emigrate. They travelled in their thousands across the Atlantic to the United States, a shorter ferry ride to the UK and by 2008, the far-flung Gold Coast of Australia beckoned for many. 

Yet, COVID-19 has left no country untouched. Borders closed and economies ruined. We cannot escape and “gain experience”, or wait it out until this economy bounces back. We are left in a sort of limbo – without the safety of college walls and without any security of employment. 

We feel powerless, waiting for our lives to begin.