University Admissions amidst a Pandemic

On 2020-10-18


Growing up, we’ve all had pondered what it would be like to live through an apocalypse. Little did we know we’d be living through a dystopia. By the end of 2019 into the beginning of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized the novel Corona Virus as a pandemic. This had somewhat caused an inconvenience to many countries economically, financially, due to this crisis affecting all sectors. When focusing on students attending a university outside of their hometowns - internationally, this created a sort of panic. What was one supposed to do? Students had already gone through half the semester, paying for their courses and living situation, but now studies were to be taught from homes, online. International students had either paused their studies and flown back home to await the dying out of this crisis, but some had decided to continue studying abroad. The study plans had been pushed back due to the psychological and financial struggles that students, along with instructors, had been going through. All was seemingly adjusting to the course of a new norm. However, what did this pandemic pose for international students hoping to apply within the following semester, and what course of action did universities decide to take?


As COVID had started its quest spreading across countries within a couple of days, high school students, even undergrad students considering to continue their postgraduate studies began to consider what was to happen, since almost all application deadlines were marked to close on May 1st. Standardized testing was limited to May and August and had ceased almost nationwide in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Whether students were applying or awaiting their acceptance letters, some universities chose to either push enrolment, allowing for more time to apply, pay a deposit depending on how fast or slow programs were being filled. Some universities restricted admissions, making it harder for students to get into their universities or programs of choice, while others began accepting students who were on the waitlist of prestigious universities. Due to international students somewhat dominating most universities, whether, in the U.S., the U.K., or anywhere else, the pandemic had allowed these universities to increase the percentage of scholarships presented due to those suffering from financial incapability’s. Yet as a domino effect, this would have negative repercussions if international students weren’t permitted to attend, since international students had always paid the tuition in full. So what was to become of universities striving at the hands of these foreign students? To be on the safe side, universities aimed to offer online or “virtual” classes to avoid countering the guidelines presented, such as holding a group of students within a class or lecture room. This decision has been administered for summer courses and applied in some theoretical programs that are to be held in the fall semester, such as in Istanbul Bilgi University. While other universities who often begin hosting students for the start of the fall semester in September have decided to push back a month and begin welcoming students in October. The admissions process yet remains the same, nonetheless is considered to be more hectic since mental health has taken a toll during these trying times of uncertainty. Why would a student consider applying, when they barely knew what was to happen tomorrow or a week from now?


As an incentive, universities have been promoting free counseling sessions offered to local and international students. This is mostly approached through virtual meetings, or in places where quarantine restrictions have been slowly easing off. Counseling allows for a better direction or redirection for students applying to the favored university to identify their goals, possible solutions to the problems causing mental struggles and overall gain a stronger self-esteem in their academic and personal lives. Due to the uncertain nature of these ever-developing conditions, educational institutions have prepared multiple scenarios as to how admissions and the course of how the upcoming semester will unfold. Regardless of how challenging these months have been, future admissions will adapt the previous norm set up once COVID-19 is contained.