MS in US Fall 2020 - What Your Future Holds Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Updated on: 05 Sep 2023

    Coronavirus has plummeted the whole world into a frenzy. With several countries on lockdown, the future seems uncertain to many. For students who had applied to US universities for the Fall 2020 session, this would mean halting the process for an uncertain period of time. The period from March to August is crucial to Indian students who are preparing for the final part of their study abroad journey. But with the lockdown and travel restrictions, the momentum is lost. When will it pick up again? This is left to be seen. 

    We are trying to find information to get a clearer picture of the future and help students with their growing concerns about the admissions for Fall 2020. However, there is not much information put out by the universities regarding prospective students. 

    What Will Happen To Students Who Are Already Enrolled in US Universities?

    Information Regarding US Student Visa 

    For students who are already enrolled, the universities have shifted all their classes online. They are providing students with all the directions to help them navigate these difficult times. However, concerns are aplenty among the international student body regarding their student visa status as US government regulations only permit one online class in a semester. To put these concerns at rest, the universities have been granted the liberty to change regulations so as to not affect the student visa status. This guidance received from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program provides the universities with flexibility to make changes without going through the typical approval process. This will ensure that international students will not lose their student visa status with all the universities shifting their classes online. This seems to be the only clear directive at present regarding international students. The SEVP has also taken into account the students who are involved in practical training. This includes Optional Practical Training known as OPT and Curricular Practical Training known as CPT. The workplace changes will affect their status as well. These students are advised to contact their employers so as to maintain their employment through other means. These guidelines are only for the students who are already enrolled in US universities and not the incoming or the new batch. 

    How Will The Pandemic Affect the Incoming Batch of Fall 2020?

    The future is still uncertain for the incoming students. The universities have not put out any concrete information regarding Fall 2020 admissions. With many deadlines extended, the process seems to have been slowed for a while. Many admissions and proficiency tests like GRE and TOEFL are postponed. The colleges are maintaining flexibility regarding applications, proficiency tests. 

    Every university has updated its website to show the steps taken by them. Apart from remote teaching, the colleges are also providing international students with all the help they can provide under the circumstances and have delineated a guide for students to follow. This step has been taken by all the universities. Universities like the University of Florida, Syracuse University, Harvard, and many more have rescheduled commencement to the end of July. The colleges are proactively cancelling all the in-person events that were scheduled for the coming months. The University of Virginia has cancelled all events till May 15. It is becoming pretty much evident that the situation might not get in control till September as events that were scheduled two months from now are being postponed and in many cases, being cancelled. The colleges are overwhelmed with making arrangements for both current students and prospective students. 

    However, the colleges are also responding to the situation and taking some steps for Fall 2020. Universities like the University of Pittsburgh, University of North Dakota, are providing prospective students with helpline numbers to help with admissions. Princeton, on 4th March, tweeted - “Please note: The coronavirus outbreak and its effects have no impact on how we evaluate applicants to the University. Every application will receive our full consideration.” Universities do not have directly addressed when the Fall 2020 classes will start. However, if the situation doesn’t improve in a couple of months then these universities might be forced to defer the Fall 2020 semester. Another way could be to conduct online classes. This remains to be seen when the classes will start for these students. 

    The only silver lining in this pandemic for students is that colleges have extended their admission deadlines. Students who have already taken admissions and proficiency tests but missed the college deadline will be able to benefit. With the current escalated situation, it is difficult to ascertain when the Fall 2020 semester will start. The possibility of it being deferred cannot be ruled out.  

    We are currently gathering data. To keep students notified, we will be launching a dashboard soon on our discussion forum where students will be able to get real-time updates on the actions taken by universities for the upcoming batch. Students will also be able to post any update or information they get from the universities. 

    GyanDhan Discussion Forum Click Here
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    First published date: 24 Mar 2020

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About author

Vishakha Bhagia
Interest in Finance with a flair for writing, Vishakha has written on education loans and the study abroad field for the last two years with articles published in Times of India, Outlook India, The Hindu, and many more publications.

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