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Covid - 19

Higher Education in the time of COVID-1913 min read

By March 20, 2020May 7th, 2020One Comment

Higher Education in the time of COVID-19

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Students worldwide are facing uncertainty in the time of COVID-19. Amid travel restrictions, social distancing, cancellation of standardized test dates, and other socio-economic ramifications of the pandemic, students are increasingly concerned about their prospects for higher education attainment. Here are some things that students should know to stay on track towards their higher education goals.

First, the COVID-19 is a stress test across sectors, and the higher education institutions are actively adapting to the scenario to ensure continuity of their teaching and research mission. Second, this is an excellent opportunity for students to prepare for and adapt to the rigors of academic advancement. Third, when travel restrictions are lifted, universities will be eager to receive international students and will make available necessary conditions to allow students to be successful.

What does this mean for prospective international students?

It is important for students to use this time to prepare for the future instead of dwell on the current scenario. While the current changes can be disturbing, in truth, university students only spend a few hours a day in lectures, using the remaining time to work on their own. Students need to focus on this and learn to prioritize their work. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the drastic changes enforced, but time management is key to being productive during these disruptive times.

Future students have several lessons to learn from this critical period: (1) learn to be a self-starter and carve out a success plan for yourself and slowly work towards achieving your goals, (2) university study requires a lot of independent study and research, so improve your secondary research and note-taking skills that will help you succeed at the university, (3) prepare for your standardized tests and plan your study abroad journey, and (4) monitor and anticipate trends in your industry as new opportunities will emerge at the end of this crisis.

How will this affect standardized tests?

To find out the latest on exam-wide cancellations and postponements, check the test-maker’s official response on their website:

To learn more about your already scheduled test, reach out to your testing center (if applicable).

To learn more about application deadlines and decision dates, reach out directly to university admissions departments (expect delayed responses).

What if you already scheduled an exam?

Don’t panic – ETS is waiving all rescheduling fees. If your GRE® General Test or TOEFL iBT® appointment is postponed, you will be notified by email and your test will be rescheduled in your account. Check your account and your email regularly to confirm your testing status.

Similarly, the IELTS Partners are putting detailed plans in place to ensure that test takers are able to take their tests as soon as possible once the official restrictions are removed.

In the case of the SAT, Students who already registered for May, whose March test centers were closed, or who do not receive March scores because of any irregularities will receive refunds.

College Board will provide future additional SAT testing opportunities for students as soon as possible in place of canceled administrations.

What is Galvanize Test Prep doing to help during this time?

Galvanize Test Prep fully comprehends the gravity of the situation. We are committed to the safety of our employees and the future of our customers – both currently enrolled and those looking to enroll. All of our courses – GRE, TOEFL, IELTS and SAT – are 100% online. Enrolled learners can continue to learn from the safety of their home! Our tutors will work from the safety of their home too, ensuring they can keep teaching you. Rest assured, as long as the internet is a thing, we will continue teaching to those determined to learn.

How will the travel restrictions in place affect the admissions cycle?

Students should stay focused on their educational and career goals. While visa and travel restrictions are currently in place, they will eventually resume operation, and students need to be prepared for this journey. Make travel plans after more information becomes available on visa appointments, issuance, and cancelation of travel restrictions. This is an unprecedented crisis, but its end will pave the way for several new opportunities for professional growth. 

Rest assured, universities are taking all possible measures to protect their current and future students, and to provide them with a seamless learning experience. The goal of higher education institutions is the continuance of academic instruction and research on their campuses. Students could expect that universities will work towards fulfilling their mission despite these challenging times.

How are universities approaching Teaching and Research during these times?

The temporary cancellation of on-campus classes has ensured that educators maximize the use of technology. Universities are turning to digital media to preserve the learning experience. Online teaching and resources are ensuring that students do not miss lectures and can receive the material they need to keep up with the curriculum. As for research labs, while some may shut down or scale down, others have identified crews to perform the most essential functions, such as maintaining models or cultures. Research assistants are encouraged to use this time to focus on literature reviews, organizing data, and planning their analyses.

Is it safe for international students currently on campus?

The authorities are ensuring that the F-1 or J-1 visa status of international students on-campus will not be affected as long as students are pursuing their courses through the online medium of instruction and are maintaining the full course load. Though universities have taken measures to send most students off-campus, some students are staying on campus due to extenuating circumstances. In such cases, universities are taking precautions to keep campus members safe. Limits are placed on on-campus activity and interactions. For example, dining halls are requesting students to take their meals to go, so they could eat in the privacy of their accommodations since there are limitations on campus gatherings. Though this affects the vibrance of the entire academic community, campus-wide social distancing protocols are implemented for the safety of all concerned.

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 this admissions cycle. Despite these unprecedented circumstances, we expect the future of college admissions to return to normal once the pandemic is contained.

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