September 2020 has seen the start of a new semester like no other.
While universities around the world are adopting different approaches to safely start lectures - from online and hybrid classes to the phased opening of campus - one thing is clear: it’s time to fully embrace the new normal.
Many students have deferred their studies to make the most of studying their entire programme abroad. But those who’ve opted for remote classes, or are on campus, are experiencing Study Abroad life with a twist!
Make the most of this situation
Sumeet Jain, Co-founder of Yocket, says that 2021 aspirants “should have a go-getter attitude.”
“There were fears, but now visa offices are opening... I think we are past the worst.” He says that while some students continue to hold back on their studies, there are others who see this as a great opportunity. “Good education will never go wasted. There will be some recession years once in a while but a good education will help you sail through these. You need to focus on your career in the long-term and not let these short-term setbacks change your career.”
With some students still doubting studying abroad in 2021, Vignesh Baliga, an MBA graduate from Mannheim Business School, shared a different perspective. “Less people will study abroad due to fear. But that would mean in 2 years when you graduate, there’ll be fewer skilled employees hitting the market, giving you higher chances and choices for a good job. There’s never been a better time to study and upskill.”
Banit Singh Sawhney, CEO at EduLoans, shares a similar sentiment. He says that students looking to start their study in 2021 would be joining the workforce in 2022 or 2023, when the economy is expected to rebound. “IMF has predicted that 2022/2023 will see unprecedented growth, as the amount of liquidity in the world after a recession is bound to increase global traction. Hence students who are looking to start studying in 2021 should not think twice before pursuing their dreams.”
Prodigy Finance Ambassador, Oluwasegun Adesanya (pictured), who deferred from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021, is anticipating more opportunities abroad next year. “I look forward to a great academic year where we’ll be back on campus and can enjoy the learning experience. I encourage all international aspirants to look beyond the uncertainties in the world right now and pursue their dreams.”
How schools are preparing
Schools are equally eager to welcome international students. Paul Keller, Director of International Enrolment at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) says, “I look forward to working with students, most of whom are young adults, as they are coming out of a very confusing year. We have all been dealt a blow by COVID-19. There will never be normal again, but at RIT we welcome the chance to be alongside students as we navigate our new educational landscape.” He says that future international students will continue to receive the high quality education that they’ve come to expect from American universities. “More importantly, they should expect campuses that are evaluating safety in new ways and putting resources towards it.”
Lindsay Gentile, Director of Admissions at NC State Graduate School, says the school has completed several campus improvement projects and is excited to welcome students. “Our international students enhance the learning experience of our entire graduate population, so it’s our goal to have you on campus as soon and as safely as possible.”
At UT Dallas, Gaurav Shekhar, Program Director and Assistant Professor of Instruction, Graduate Programme - Business Analytics says: “Your academic and professional aspirations are on the wheels that don’t slow down. We are here to help you continue your journey in alternate ways.” While strict social distancing measures are in place, he’s hopeful that activities will revert to being 100% on campus in 2021. “Remember we can beat COVID-19 with three things – A cool head, a warm heart and clean hands!”
What to expect as a student
London Business School (LBS) has made huge strides in adapting to a virtual campus. Apart from offering additional learning opportunities, it hosts virtual club socials, sundowners, and even music concerts to bring students together and enjoy a taste of “campus life”. Take a glimpse of the LBS online student community in this video.
At Chicago Booth, MBA student Robert Cooper says there are advantages and disadvantages of a virtual classroom. Apart from the convenience of online classes, he says that recording Zoom classes was helpful if he needed to review something. However, he says nothing can replace the in-person experience. “It’s a bit harder to ask the professor questions, and you miss out on socialising both with friends and with new classmates whom you could build connections with.”
It’s clear that safety measures and social distancing will continue for a long time to come. While studying abroad won’t be exactly the same in 20/21, it will offer a unique experience and present new opportunities. Some things won’t change: you’ll still receive world-class education and have access to more career choices after completing your masters.
It takes courage to pursue your study abroad dreams, especially as we learn to live with a pandemic - so be proud of yourself for getting ready to embark on this journey.
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