Is Deferring College Acceptance A Worthwhile Alternative in the Wake of covid-19?

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The COVID-19 pandemic has landed incoming students confused, forcing them to revisit their planning and explore possibilities of deferring their respective enrollments. The world is yet to recover fully from the challenges of the pandemic. Although many universities have resumed their on-campus studies, many are yet to follow it.

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? Read the post to know the answers.

We at Collegepond would like to share the deferral processes and practices being reviewed by leading universities across the globe and how these policy shifts will likely to impact your deferral plans and upcoming admissions cycle.

Many universities are still offering classes online; others intend to extend a more flexible and supportive approach toward incoming students affected by the pandemic.

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 and underlying challenges, some universities 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:

  • Not all programs may be available online, so it would be prudent to defer and pursue the desired course in-person
  • 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 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.
  • 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
  • Please be informed that if your university allows you to defer the admission, then you have something in hand for the following year. If you have earned an admission 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). There is a possibility that you may not get the coveted ADMIT from your desired university in the ensuing year.

 Shortcomings of deferring

  • 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.
  • 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.

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Collegepond May 5, 2020 0 Comments

FAQs related to Admission Process (COVID-19)

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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.

Team Collegepond

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Collegepond April 16, 2020 0 Comments

GRE & TOEFL To Be Available Online In The Wake Of Covid-19

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As the world continues to battle the deadly respiratory COVID-19 virus, as an aspiring study abroad graduate you must be getting used to the new normal of ‘social distancing’   and ‘lockdown’-  in essence spending more time at home studying and contemplating on your TOEFL, GRE and graduate admission journey.

While universities continue to remain shut, the closure of test centers and suspension of TOEFL and GRE   must have added to the uncertainty that you are experiencing currently.  While you may be wondering if your test preparations have come to naught, there is absolutely no need to feel bogged down by the prevailing circumstances, as Educational Testing Service (ETS), the governing body of TOEFL and GRE has facilitated Special Home Edition testing for all those students affected by the closure of test centers.

What does this At Home testing mean?    

While under the normal circumstances you may have had to book a test center well in advance and commute to the center to take your TOEFL and GRE, the ‘at home’ test will enable you to appear for your language and entrance tests from the comfort of your home. You can avail of this online facility from April 2, 2020, till the time it gets safe to re-open the test centers.

As you would be dealing with an exceptional situation in unprecedented times, it is important for you to weigh the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of taking the tests remotely-so that you are not only intellectually equipped but also psychologically prepared.

 

At home test offers you the following advantage :

1. You can cover up for the time lost owing to test cancellation

2. You can save on the commute time to the test center

3. You can make the most of the flexibility and convenience that taking the test from the confines of your home offers

 

How does this ‘at home’ test compare with the regular test?

1. Firstly, you need to ensure that the ‘at home’ test is available in your country and your computer meets the equipment requirements for the test.This will include installing ETS Test Browser, Procter U systems check, and a conducive environment

2. You can subsequently register by creating/ signing with an ETS account and make the due payment. You will receive an email link from ProcterU instructing you about the steps to schedule your test date and time. It is important to note that your registration would not be  valid until you schedule an appointment

3. Please note that you cannot register via TOEFL Official App. You can schedule or cancel your test only via the website

4. You can reschedule your test from the test center to an at-home test by duly contacting ETS Test Takers. All test center appointments till June 2020 can be rescheduled to an at-home test. You can also reschedule or cancel your at-home test, if need be, prior to your appointment date and time.

5. While this is certainly a deviation as far as the mode of testing goes, the tests would be similar to the in-class tests in form, content, and format

6. You can prepare for the tests with the same prep materials that you have at hand and the fees would be the same as test center fees

7. The tests would be valid and reliable, in the sense that you would be monitored in real-time closely for the entire duration of the tests by invigilators and artificial intelligence technology-the leading proctoring solution for online testing.

8. Your primary identification document (ID) would be your passport. You have to ensure that your name on your ID matches the name you use for your ETS account. For Indian students only passport would be considered as the primary identification document

9. You need to use a windows desktop or laptop . You cannot use Mac,phone or tablet.You can contact ProctorU in case you face any technical glitch

10. You can retake the tests as many times as you want,but at an interval of minimum three days.You cannot reschedule your at home test to test center test

11. You will receive your test results in 6-10 days

12. You can send your test scores to four institutions at no additional cost by selecting free score recipients at the time of registration

 

What system requirements you need to have in place and what you should avoid doing?

1. Firstly, you should ensure that you have a secure and reliable Internet connection with adequate bandwidth offering seamless and uninterrupted connectivity for 3-4 hours

2. You need to have a web cam in place offering 360 view so that the invigilator is not only able to see you,but,also monitor your activities as you take the tests

3. You should avoid cheating at all costs such as trying to open a new window to google up answers or referring to your mobile phone

4. Avoid using the services of test-taking proxies, as your photo from your ID document would be duly matched with your face by means of facial recognition software

 

If you should need any help or clarification regarding the Special Home edition of testing, you can connect with us remotely, as we are committed to support, encourage and guide you through these tying times and help you adapt to the new reality.

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Collegepond April 7, 2020 0 Comments

Coronavirus – The Pandemic and the Higher Education Pandemonium

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As the world finds itself entangled in the rapidly spreading Covid-19 pandemic with the resulting travel restrictions that the alarming situation has caused, students across the globe are experiencing a sense of uncertainty. Following gruelling hours of test preparations and tedious application processes, most students were awaiting their admits with bated breath when the virus raised its ugly head. Travel restrictions also raised questions concerning the timely commencement of the next intake. Amid such uncertainties, the epidemic, which has now been declared by the WHO as a pandemic, is being viewed as an impediment threatening to dampen students’ international education experience. The situation demands closer scrutiny, and our research has led us to believe that universities are equally concerned about the situation as the students.

Universities, especially those without state or public funding, run the risk of losing out on a significant chunk of their annual revenue as a consequence of the failure in meeting enrolment targets.

A survey conducted by the Institute of International Education reveals that the scales are tilted in favour of international students. Higher education institutions in the USA are bending over backwards in adjusting their teaching methods to the current requirements. Of the more than 230 higher education institutions that responded to this survey, almost 37 percent confirmed that they were considering alternatives like ‘flexible study or distance learning, leaves of absence, refunds, or other opportunities’ owing to the fact that the Chinese students are unable to return to the campus due to travel restrictions. Around 76 percent of institutions acknowledged that student recruitment activities for the next intake would be rendered ineffective in China due to the cancellation of standardized tests. Therefore, they have started incentivizing Chinese students by offering application deadline extensions and deferrals. More on this can be read at: https://www.iie.org/en/Why-IIE/Announcements/2020/03/IIE-Releases-Survey-on-Effects-of-COVID-19-on-International-Students-and-Study-Abroad

Even in the UK, some of the higher learning institutions are considering extending deadlines for or waiving off the requirement for standardized tests. For instance, the London School of Economics has allowed its prospective graduate students to submit their applications without their GRE/GMAT scores. More information on this can be obtained on: http://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/Graduate/Prospective-students/Entry-requirements/GRE-and-GMAT

As the outbreak escalates in major US states like Washington DC, California, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey, many prominent universities have devised elaborate academic continuity plans to ensure that ongoing courses for their currently enrolled students are on track. The following link elaborates on the efforts undertaken by institutions and professors to leverage technology in helping students complete their programs: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VT9oiNYPyiEsGHBoDKlwLlWAsWP58sGV7A3oIuEUG3k/htmlview?usp=sharing&sle=true#

At the heart of using these innovative, remote teaching-learning technologies is the intention of helping students maintain their F1 status. A delay in the program completion for their current batch of students might necessitate institutions to apply for F1 extensions for a large number of their students. Universities may also need to either hire more professors or reduce the number of seats for the next intake. Nevertheless, both these options could potentially burden them financially. Therefore, the online modalities of teaching, such as MOOCs and webinars, which were earlier not considered as part of main-stream teaching methods, are now being touted as the need of the hour. Professors are now familiarizing themselves with technologies such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom for webinars. Additionally, even the US government has stepped up in its efforts to provide a sense of relief to international students.  The Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has temporarily suspended the limitations on online class hours for all current international students within the USA. More on this can be read at: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2003-01.pdf

Such extraordinary measures being undertaken by educational institutions and the government highlight the fact that universities are now ready to explore previously unchartered territories to maintain their financial viability. This paradigm shift is bringing in numerous advantages for the international student community. As soon as the COVID situation subsides, universities would resume operations and expedite I-20 and other procedures with vigour. In the worst-case scenario, should travel restrictions prevent students from entering the USA for the Fall intake, there would be a high chance that the SEVP would extend its support. Students might be able to complete a considerable portion of their studies in a subsidized online mode in their home countries and still receive the benefits of the F1 visa and the OPT period once they enter the USA. In their procedural adaptations update, the SEVP has acknowledged the ‘fluid and the rapidly changing nature of the Covid-19 crisis, which seems like a ray of hope for international students.

Therefore, students must exercise patience for now and continue preparing for their visas. While, as of March 14, 2020, the embassy has canceled visa appointments in response to the declaration of national emergency in the USA, the embassy may be required to work over-time to compensate for the lost time as soon as the situation is brought under control.  Hence, in the given situation, the students should spend time in educating themselves about visa processes to minimise last minute hassles. In the current circumstances, we intend to serve our students to the best of our abilities and our team is all geared up towards resolving any visa queries that the students may have.

For more information visit Collegepond.

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Collegepond March 16, 2020 0 Comments

Why study in University of Pittsburgh?

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The Swanson School of Engineering is the engineering school of the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1846, The Swanson School of
Engineering is the second or third oldest in the United States.

The Swanson School of Engineering offers undergraduate, graduate degrees, and doctorates in 6 academic departments:

Bioengineering

Chemical and Petroleum engineering

Civil and Environmental engineering

Electrical and Computer engineering

Industrial engineering

Mechanical engineering and Materials science

Academic programs offered by the school included Bioengineering, Chemical , Petroleum, Civil, Mining, Computer, Electrical ,Mechanical,  Nuclear and Industrial Engineering, Engineering Science, Materials Science and Engineering.

Research centers housed in the school include:

The Centre for Energy

The Centre for Simulation and Modelling

The Mascaro Centre for Sustainable Innovation

The Petersen Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering

The Lubrizol Innovation Laboratory (a partnership of the Chemical and Petroleum
Engineering Department and The Lubrizol Corporation) The University of Pittsburgh Centre for Energy is a research centre housed in the Swanson School of Engineering that is dedicated to improving energy technology development and energy sustainability. Comprising more than 70 faculty members and 200 students and postdocs, the centre is scheduled to be housed on a floor of Benedum Hall undergoing a $15 million renovation. The centre was created in 2008 to bring together energy innovators across a range of engineering and academic disciplines. It also sought to develop stronger collaborations with energy industry partners in the Western Pennsylvania. The centre’s faculty focus on five key areas of research that include energy delivery and reliability, carbon management and utilization, high-temperature and other advanced materials, energy efficiency, and unconventional gas resources. In February, 2012, the centre announced it had received a $22 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The donation, one of the largest ever grants awarded by the Mellon Foundation or received by the University of Pittsburgh, is targeted to strengthen the centre by creating at least four new faculty positions and eight endowed graduate fellowships. It will also purchase equipment and establish a fund to encouraging innovative research focused on smart grid technology, along  with providing general support for research infrastructure and the centre’s operations.

Notable alumni and faculty include-

Erik Buell — (1979) — Engineer, founder and chairman of Buell Motorcycle Company – subsidiary of Harley-Davidson.

John Choma— (1963, 1964, 1965, 1969) — Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering- Electrophysics at the University of Southern California.

Bob Colwell — (1977) — electrical engineer who was the chief architect on the Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Pentium III, and Pentium 4 microprocessors.

Michael Lovell — (1989, ’91, ’94) — President of Marquette University John A. Swanson — (1966) — Founder and retired President of ANSYS, a leading innovator of finite element simulation software and technologies designed to optimize product development processes. Winner of the John Fritz Medal in engineering.

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Collegepond November 15, 2019 0 Comments
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