Visa Crunch

Post-pandemic considerations that students should look into before applying to US universities

With many universities switching to test-optional or test-blind admissions for Fall 2022, most colleges’ acceptance ratios have plummeted, making it an even lower statistic for international students, who are competing for fewer seats this year. It is common knowledge that studying in a developed country opens up a whole new world for aspiring students. Parents continue to strive to send their children abroad for higher education (after 12th grade) to open up a world of opportunities, build their future, and expedite their career growth if money is not an issue. According to a UNESCO study, nearly 91 percent of all Indian students wanted to pursue higher education abroad even during the COVID era.

COVID-19, on the other hand, has altered how parents and children view the international landscape, resulting in a flurry of new and complex concerns that must be addressed. We will try to expand on these concerns in this article so that parents and children can make an informed decision and prepare for the road ahead. The figure in the statistics reflects the decrease in acceptance ratios at some of the top-tier colleges. The acceptance ratio at Ivy’s has been reduced by half. For Harvard University, it has dropped from 4.9% in 2020 to 3.4% in 2021. Similarly, the acceptance percentage for other universities like Columbia University, MIT, Princeton has come down to 3.7%, 4%, and 5.6% respectively.

A further issue is that many accepted students chose to defer their admission for a year (to the following fall) because most colleges offered online rather than in-person classes. As a result, the number of seats currently offered to the students in the current year has been significantly reduced. According to US News, 16 percent of students accepted in 2020 considered taking a gap year and postponing their acceptance to 2021. Some institutes had much higher numbers; for example, more than 50 seats at Yale in 2021 were reserved for students who deferred their admission in 2020. This effect was more noticeable in Post Graduate courses, which are shorter in duration (year or two).

Vaccination status is also posing significant challenges for students planning to travel abroad. Many vaccines have not been approved by the FDA or the WHO, so international students who have only been partially vaccinated or have not been inoculated at all will need to be revaccinated. This will be done in accordance with the rules of the college. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued specific guidelines requiring international students entering the country to be revaccinated with one of the FDA-approved vaccines. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, approximately 500 colleges and universities in the United States will require students to get immunized against the coronavirus by the start of the fall semester.

Bringing these issues into account, universities are providing unwavering support to help mitigate them. Universities have created WhatsApp, Instagram, and other social media groups for both students and parents to adapt to this new situation. The majority of colleges are making these online resources available to parents and children. Parents can inquire about these groups by contacting colleges. They can get answers to all of their questions, including quarantine requirements, required documents, and even what to pack for the kids. Second, colleges are pairing freshmen with student mentors.

Students must have a dual course of action with timeframes, objectives, and tasks spread out adequately in light of the ongoing uncertainties caused by COVID-19. Mentors, counselors, current university students, and the students’ own research should all thoroughly examine and ratify this plan.

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