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Will COVID Affect UG study in the US?

By April 8, 2020July 10th, 2020No Comments

As a provider for test prep and admission counselling services to students in 40+ countries, we get a lot of questions from parents on the impact of Covid on UG study abroad and admissions for Fall 2021 and Fall 2022.. These questions are arising from residents of the US or Canada as well residents of other countries who are looking to send their children abroad for undergraduate studies. We understand that it is an anxious time for both students and parents. We wanted to give our perspective as per today’s situation. As the situation is rapidly evolving, we will continue to monitor and publish more articles to answer any queries that students and parents may have.

Amid all the gloom, there are positives emerging that we feel will result in the situation getting much better over the next year. High school students looking to start undergraduate studies in Fall 2021 or Fall 2022 should not need to worry as those are dates quite some time away. We hope that overall the world would have a feasible solution to Covid-19 by then. We have outlined some reasons for our optimism below.

World-Wide efforts to contain the pandemic underway

1. Strict lockdowns/social distancing seem to be working on flattening the curve

Countries across the world have realized the seriousness of this pandemic and have implemented strict lock-downs and quarantine measures. This is important because it buys us time while doctors and scientists figure out effective treatment methodologies and vaccines.

Importance of social distancing | COVID on study abroad
  • Initial data seems to show that countries/states that have implemented lock-downs and social distancing measures with extensive testing effectively (example Germany) are doing much better than countries who were late to implement measures (example UK). 
  • As the virus tends to display an exponential growth (hockey stick curve), it is important that all countries have now taken this seriously and imposed lock-downs. For example, in India, the expected cases were projected to be 820,000 if the lock-down was not implemented versus 10,000 (actual no: of cases after lockdown).

2. Nearly 80 companies and academic institutions are racing to find a vaccine:

There is no dearth of resources being allocated to finding a vaccine for Covid 19. Nearly 80 companies and academic institutions across the world are trying to find a vaccine for Covid 19. Five of these are already being tested in people. 

In addition. Industry leaders are donating vast sums of money to help accelerate this process.As an example, Bill Gates is providing billions in funding to build factories for 7 different candidates of the CoronaVirus vaccine. 

Some earlier research on similar strains is being used to accelerate the process.The Sars-Cov 2’s (virus that causes Covid 19) genetic sequence was shared by China in early Jan which allowed research groups to start studying the virus. Some work had been done on earlier epidemics (SARS and MERS) which was stopped when those epidemics were contained. A couple of companies have repurposed the work done for the earlier epidemics and are looking to start clinical trials soon.

With so many resources being dedicated to fighting Covid 19, we are hopeful that a vaccine will be available 18 months from now.

3. Testing efforts being ramped up in all countries for early detection & testing:

Early detection via increased testing is a key to controlling Covid-19. As countries battle the spread of Covid-19, they are scaling up testing significantly. This is good news as early detection, quarantining and treatment can help countries bring the spread under check. The ultimate goal is to produce a test that can detect Covid-19 in a couple of minutes.  Below is a summary of companies and institutions looking to bring Covid-19 tests to the market.

Importance of social distancing | COVID on study abroad 2

What can you expect as a prospective college applicant?

Digital versions of SAT/ACT to enable testing from home:

College Board recently announced that they are working on a take home version of the SAT exam to prepare for the eventuality that schools may not be open in the Fall. ACT has also made a  similar announcement as per a New York Times article. So school students might be able to take the exams from the safety of their homes.

Lesser potential applicants, implying lesser competition at universities:

Over the years, universities in the USA have seen greater numbers of international students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. China sends the largest number of international students to the USA. 

COVID impact on UG study USA

As you can see from the graph, the number of undergraduate students from China applying to the US has quadrupled over the last decade. We expect that due to worsening political relations between the US and China and the impact of the virus, this number will drop quite significantly.

This implies lesser competition for students applying to US universities which in turn maximizes your chances of getting admits into your dream universities.

Increased flexibility from Universities:

Universities worldwide understand the hardships that prospective students are going through and will show some flexibility during these challenging times. US universities as an example enroll more than 20 million students a year. 

Due to the virus universities are facing losses themselves. In the US state of Pennsylvania alone, the 14 universities are collectively expected to lose between $70MM to $100MM due to shutdowns. The UK universities are expecting  a £800m loss this year due to the Corona virus. The universities are going to be more flexible and understanding  with prospective students as they also need enrollment numbers to sustain themselves.

Prospective Applicants, stay on the path to preparation

With so much chaos, it is understandable that students are distracted and not focus on their college plans. It is really important that students stay the course and use the time available to try and get into the best possible colleges. 

Prospective students are faced with some unique circumstances that they can use to their advantage.

  • Availability of SAT test prep time : If the lockdowns were not there, school students typically have a very busy schedule between school, sports and other extracurricular/social activities. Now with the lockdown, they have the one thing that money can’t buy – time! Allocate some time every day to ensure that your test prep is on schedule.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) : Advanced Placement allows high school students to earn college credit while in school. Students should use this time to think through their AP course plans, explore colleges that give AP credit as well use the time to prepare for AP exams.
Impact of Covid on 2021 Undergraduate admission Image 3

Profile Analysis & Profile Building : This is a great opportunity to take a step back and focus on strengthening your profile for universities.

    • First use the time to create a profile with your achievements till date. This is your “As-Is state ” profile.
    • Next think through the university/majors that you might be interested in. 
    • Now, try and think through activities/courses that would make your profile stronger. This is your “Future state” profile.
    • The output of this exercise should be an action plan with key milestones that you can work towards. You can also seek professional help to work through the above exercise. A lot of expert counsellors are available who can work with you via remote work tools to complete this exercise.
  • Get started on some of your university documentation if applying for Fall 2021 : For students applying for Fall 2021, we would highly recommend starting on some of the university documentation if they have not already done so.

Students who use the time available now prudently will stand to benefit. They will be giving themselves their best shot at getting into their universities/ colleges of choice. 

At Galvanize Test Prep, we are helping students from 40+ countries achieve their study abroad dreams. Please reach out to us for any questions that you may have regarding university admissions. Our team of experienced counsellors who are graduates of top universities will be happy to answer any questions that you may have during these challenging times.

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