The world has changed considerably for most of us since the onset of the new decade, more so, for study abroad aspirants. The COVID-19 pandemic has landed incoming students in a state of limbo, forcing them to revisit their planning and preparations and explore possibilities of deferring their respective enrollments.
If you are an incoming graduate rewarded with an acceptance letter, is deferring a viable option to tide over the prevailing uncertainty? How will this impact your academic goals and career progression?
We at Collegepond would like to share the deferral processes and practices that are being reviewed by leading universities across the globe and how these policy shifts are likely to impact your deferral plans and upcoming admissions cycle.
While some universities such as the University of Washington, and Stanford are deliberating between canceling classes, postponing the fall semester and moving classes online for the rest of the year, many universities intend to extend a more flexible and supportive approach towards incoming students affected by the pandemic, by favoring the deferment of admission from the Fall 2020 semester to the Spring 2021 or Fall 2021 semester.
Under normal circumstances, you can usually defer your enrollment over a year and again depending on the university, you could even retain your seat for as long as two years. Considering the COVID-19 situation, some universities such as Harvard are also considering spreading the deferred enrollment over the next two years depending on the number of students requesting a deferment.
We have herewith outlined some of the benefits and shortcomings that you should consider before deciding to defer your enrolment:
Benefits of deferring:
1. Not all programs may be available online, so it would be prudent to defer and pursue the desired course in-person
2. You can retain the value of education that you are looking for as remote learning is not likely to be as effective as in-person instruction. You will miss out on personal interactions with fellow students and teachers, which is important for knowledge exchange. In essence, the quality of education will not be the same in the online mode.
3. You may consider this time as a ‘ gap year’ and re-evaluate your study options and career goals by taking up short term course and gaining some work exposure
4. Please be informed that if your university allows you to defer the admit, then you have something in hand for the next year. If you have earned an admit this year, it in no way implies that you will get ACCEPTED next year as well, as the competition is likely to heat up and be tougher (considering the number of applicants will be more if the current situation continues to prevail ) and there is a possibility that you may not get the coveted ADMIT from your desired university in the ensuing year.
Shortcomings of deferring:
1. The general presumption is that it would not be easy to get back into the groove and resume classes due to the break-in continuity and loss of academic momentum, irrespective of the academic pursuits that you intend to take up during the deferral period
2. In case you have been granted any scholarship or bursary, you will not be able to avail of these financial aids if there is a ‘no deferral’ clause attached, and you defer your enrollment
As universities continue to plan and prepare for the immediate and long-term challenges brought about by COVID-19, we hope that you will weigh the emerging scenarios with prudence, foresight, and caution, as the onus to defer or not entirely lies with you.