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While preparing for graduate school may have been one of the most arduous phases of your academic life, the unforeseen COVID- 19 pandemic repercussions must have literally put your academic journey on hold and filled your life with uncertainty and indecision. Given the prevailing sense of confusion that you are going through, you must be at crossroads, wondering whether the decision that you have so thoughtfully made regarding your graduate studies has hit a roadblock.
Whether you have received the coveted acceptance letter, waitlisted, planning to defer, or eager to take the next step in your admission journey, the following questions must be crossing your mind relentlessly as you traverse through this distressing phase of extended lockdown, and social distancing.
1. Having received the acceptance letter, should I go ahead with the enrolment?
2. Is it better to wait until the next year?
We have been continuously receiving a barrage of such open-ended questions over the past week, and as concerned overseas education counselors, we would like to take this opportunity to share our perspective in the form of the following Q& A.
1. The cut-off date for enrolment is fast approaching, should I go ahead and accept the offer?
a. If there is no acceptance fee involved, then you can go ahead to pick up the offer
b. In the event of acceptance fee being involved, kindly email to the university expressing your intension to join the program, but with no clarity on visa dates, resumption of international travel,etc., you would like to know of the deferral policy to the ensuing year
c. If you are permitted to defer then you can go ahead and pay the deposit
d. If you are not allowed to defer then request them for an extension for paying the deposit amount. If you are not granted the extension then it would be a risky proposition to pay, unless the amount involved is minimal
e. Alternatively, if you are not allowed to defer, then you may want to explore other universities
2. Can I accept multiple offers under the prevailing circumstances?
a. Yes, but try to restrict your acceptance interest to two universities, so that other deserving candidates can avail of the seat/s
b. If your preferred university is providing you with the ‘deferral ‘ option, then there is no need to consider other universities as fall back option
3. What do I do if my college happens to be in a COVID-19 affected area or containment zone?
a. You need to keep your options open by exploring another university as an alternate option and subsequently hold on till May to see how things unfold
4. Given the prevailing uncertainty should I defer? If so, then do I go for Spring 2021 or Fall 2021?
a. We will conduct a webinar in the second week of May and shall discussing this aspect at length. You are invited to attend this impending webinar to gain detailed insights on the same. Details will be sent out 1st week of May.
5. When will the process of visa issuance commence? Will I be able to get a visa?
a. While we cannot provide a definitive status on this, it is quite unlikely that this will happen any time before 15th May. Assuming things improve and visa issuance commences, it will be a staggered process and the emphasis will be laid on the student visa. Again, we expect to gain more clarity on this only in May
6. Should I opt for online classes?
a. Having spoken at length to our ex-students overseas, we understand that 80-90% of our students were not happy with online courses, particularly, taking those courses that had accompanying lab sessions.
b. We are of the belief that this online mode of learning beats the purpose of striving for global exposure, having classroom discussions with the best and brightest minds in the world and widening one’s horizons through intercultural interactions. So, ideally, we would advise you to defer rather than opting for online classes.
c. Please note that some universities may offer a discount to onboard students for online classes for the first semester. If money is a concern, then you can certainly weigh the options, especially if you are planning to enroll for a two-year program
7. Can I go ahead and get the i20?
a. Yes, you may get it. Assuming the existing situation prevails and you are unable to go abroad for your graduate studies, and plan to defer, then you can request for a new i20 as and when it gets safe to travel. If you are planning to pursue the first term online, please ensure that you get your visa prior to the enrolment
8. Is it prudent to go now considering the current developments that may lead to recession? I understand from some of my seniors that there are no jobs available currently
a. Yes, your seniors are indeed having a tough time, it is during the months of March-April-May when most of the recruitments happen. Again, the recession may also be sector-specific. If you are planning to get into pharmacy, CS/DS, then recruitment is happening as before. The sectors most likely to be hit by the recession are real estate, retail, and hospitality sectors
9. Is it worth going when there is no clarity on how things are going to unfold in the coming months?
a. If you are going for a two-year program, then you would be graduating at a time when the economy would be in the revival mode, post-recession (usually lasts for 1-1.25 years). As a result, recruitment would be in full swing by the time you graduate in 2022. This is our personal opinion.
b. This being said, some companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ have stepped up recruitment even during these trying and uncertain times.If you feel that you should wait for a year, then you need to be clear on what you propose to do by staying back in India. Do you have a job in hand? If not, then you need to realize that employment opportunities will be hard to come by given the unfavorable job market. If things do not work out, you may end up sitting at home doing online courses. Will you be able to afford this personally, professionally and financially?
10. If my University doesnt allow to defer and I decide to apply for Fall 2021, will I get into the same University?
a. We expect the competition for Fall 2021 to be very high, as along with next year applicants, a lot of Fall 2020 students will defer and will be reapplying. Hence, you cannot assume that you will get an admit for sure from the same University next year.
11. Will the internship situation be affected if we do online courses or go in Spring 2021 ?
a. This answer will vary from Country to country. The Govt of Canada has mentioned they will allow exceptions this year. Online courses for 1 semester will be counted towards your stay in Canada. For USA, different Universities are giving different answers. We are collating this information and will provide more feedback in May when we do the webinar
We hope that this insightful Q&A will enable you to gain a balanced perspective on the current and emerging developments as prepare you to navigate through these turbulent times.
We will also be doing a webinar on the next steps in May 2nd week which will cover the following topics
1 – Flying this year or deferring
2 – If deferring – then Spring 2021 or Fall 2021
3 – Online lectures – is it a feasible option ?
4 – If going next year, then what should you be doing now
Sending our best wishes for your safety, well-being and future success.