From long queues at stores to empty streets and schools, and public service announcements by the hour, COVID-19 seems to have taken over 2020. Not to worry, it cannot take over your graduate school plans. Not so fast! As graduate school experts, we have put this resource together to help you appreciate the true impact of the epidemic on your graduate school dreams and chart a way forward. So, what is COVID-19 and how is it affecting graduate school admissions the world over? The World Health Organization identifies Coronaviruses as a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Here are the top 5 ways prospective graduate students are being affected and our recommendations to help you stay head above water.
Anyone who knows anything about graduate school admissions criteria knows that they usually involve certain standardized tests depending on where you reside and what program you are applying for. These tests include TOEFL, GRE, IELTS, LSAT etc. Asia, Europe and the Middle East have already seen many of their countries closing these test sites on a national scale. In China for example, English tests for GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS, all of which are important prerequisites for grad school admissions have been canceled. While there is still the possibility of tests later on in the year, the cancellations at this point in time will most certainly affect the number of students admitted in 2020.
GetIn’s Recommendation- Even though you can’t write the standardized test, you surely can prepare! We compiled
. You can never be too prepared until you are READY!
Open Houses and Admitted Student Weekends Open Days are an essential part of the college experience as they give potential students the chance to really experience and interact with the school/program to an extent in order to help them make a final decision. There are recent reports that certain programs like some top physics PhD programs in the United States, are canceling their open days. There are schools which intend to run virtual open houses while others are simply directing people to links on their websites for essential information, as some form of a substitute to the open house. The suspension of tertiary activities in certain countries also extends to admitted student weekends. These events are organized for those who have already received an offer of admission as a sort of introduction before they resume fully. Some schools have taken the virtual approach as well by proposing to host these online. Examples of schools that have canceled admitted student days include Georgetown University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. GetIn’s Recommendations- find out if your prospective school has switched to a virtual event and join in by all means. If they have not, continue to familiarize yourself with the school through the available information on their website. Another alternative is to connect with their alumni on social media. Timelines COVID-19 has the potential to and has already begun to affect timelines in the college admissions cycle like admission offers and resumption dates. Students who have been offered admission prior to the escalation of corona-virus will most probably have their resumption timelines affected, depending on how things go from here. With a lot of countries implementing either social distancing and lock-down of non-essential services, travel bans, or both, chances are that most students will not be resuming when they are supposed to. GetIn’s Recommendations- We would not worry too much about this if we were you. It is a general issue. While the postponements can have ripple effects on other preplanned activities, it is important to not spend the monies earmarked for graduate school, not lose the documents procured already, and of course, not be demoralized. This shall soon pass! Admission Decisions There are also worries that the pandemic will affect admission decisions in the sense that the status of the virus in applicants’ country of residence might affect their chances of getting admitted into certain schools outside their current country. Princeton University is one school that has tried to allay those fears by releasing a statement: “Please note: the coronavirus outbreak and its effects have no impact on how we evaluate applicants to the University. Every application will receive our full consideration”. Getin’s Recommendation- Do not panic. You will not be affected. Stay hopeful and be on the lookout for your prospective school’s official position on this. International Student Enrollment International students are important in any university, but especially in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. In the US for example, one third of all international students are from China making their contribution to US University revenues considerable. Many universities depend to a large extent on full tuition payments from their international students and because of this, the pandemic will certainly affect student enrollment this year, which will in turn result in financial consequences. In China, where the virus started, the disruption of activities also affected the conduct of standardized tests which are part of the eligibility criteria for most programs. GetIn’s Recommendations- Do not worry, as soon as the pandemic is over, the demand for international students will pick up. That you are important to the host country’s economic development is a given, therefore, cheer up. Your slot awaits you at your prospective university! We do hope that we have been able to clear some of your doubts and help you put your graduate school journey in perspective, in the light of the epidemic. It is however important to reach out to your prospective school to clarify any further confusion. Take a look at the responses of some selected graduate schools to the pandemic. RESPONSES TO COVID-19 FROM SELECTED SCHOOLS Depending on the severity of the epidemic and government policies, schools have taken a range of measures. In some countries, universities have closed as students have been asked to go home with some introducing online classes. In others, schools remain open with measures being implemented to prevent the spread of the virus, like the National Universiy of Singapore. • The Graduate College at the University of Illinois, United States in its official notice about the response to COIVD-19 explains how it will impact applicants to the school: We recognize that some universities in areas impacted by COVID-19 are currently closed and students may be unable to obtain transcripts and other academic credentials at this time. For admissions review purposes, we can review and make admissions decisions with unofficial copies of transcripts… In response to the temporary closings of testing centers in countries impacted by the epidemic, the Graduate College will now temporarily accept Duolingo English Test examination results for tests taken between 1 February and 1 August 2020. • The University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, has advised that original documents should not be sent to them by post until further notice. It has also stated that despite the pandemic, it is still accepting applications for the 2020/2021 academic year. In response to questions from students who have already received offers about deferring, it has explained that students who were due to start in Easter Term 2020 have been deferred to Michaelmas Term 2020. • The University of British Columbia, Canada, has posted an announcement for those admitted to start grad school in May 2020: “All graduate programs with new students starting in May 2020 have been asked to contact their incoming students directly to discuss whether and how their graduate studies can proceed. Depending on a number of factors, it may be possible for (students) to begin your program in May or you may be encouraged to defer your program start to a later date. EXPERT OPINIONS ON COVID-19 AND GRAD SCHOOL ADMISSIONS Forbes’ opinion on covid 19 and grad school is summed up in this statement: “The uncertain nature of the rapidly developing coronavirus means that all students and educational institutions should prepare for a variety of scenarios, but it is likely that it will have little to no impact on the admissions cycle. Despite these unprecedented circumstances, we expect the future of college admissions to return to normal once the pandemic is contained”. What does GetIn think? It is true that this pandemic has done a lot of damage, to lives, plans, and livelihoods, but we believe it will eventually become one of those things mankind will look back on as a battle won and a lesson learnt. It is therefore essential that we keep moving and preparing for a better comeback. COVID-19 will not be the end of graduate school, of your career and dreams, and certainly not of the world. If you have grad school plans for this year or the next, you should definitely check out our Graduate School Application ONLINE Boot Camp as well as our other grad school services ! SAFETY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19: THE WHO GUIDELINE Don’t forget to stay safe by following the guidelines given by WHO: • Wash your hands frequently • Maintain social distancing • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth • Practice respiratory hygiene • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early