Here’s good news for those who thought the Covid-19 pandemic was the end of their dreams of studying in the United States. Everything is not lost.
US universities are seeing an increase in India’s enrolment applications for the fall semester (August 2021). We take you through the most popular courses on American campuses in this context, how US universities are planning classes during the pandemic, the changes in scores and admission requirements in the light of Covid-19, the changes in fee structures due to the pandemic, and yes, all the precautions on campus for Covid-19.
Top US universities and US government officials share the pandemic scenario in their institutions about new competence tests and the financial aspects and each step of applying to a US higher education institution.
Q. Given the Covid-19 pandemic, how are Indian students responding to US university admissions?
As of late November 2020, for students planning to enrol in Fall Semester 2021, Penn State has seen a 27 per cent increase year-to-year in India’s undergraduate applications. With the 12th largest international student body in the US, Penn State is in the top 1 per cent of universities globally. In career services, and with a strong OPT program, we are ranked 9th in the US. We also have a world-class Infectious Disease Center and have made our students’ health and safety an absolute priority. So, this fall, while some US institutions closed their campuses, we welcomed back our students and worked hard with them to keep our communities as safe as possible. Our Indian students value these commitments, and we are proud of our 1,250 Indian scholars.
Q. Students looking mostly for courses (undergraduate and graduate)?
Our 14 undergraduate majors and 13 master’s degrees in the College of Engineering are the most common coursework. Penn State offers Aerospace Engineering, Biological Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, among others (https://www.engr.psu.edu/), in addition to the most popular engineering programs. In Computer Science, our Indian students are most interested. Furthermore, we have significant numbers of Indian students studying in our Business College across the natural sciences (biology, chemistry and physics), mathematics, and nine majors including risk management, supply chain, and information systems.
Q. University plans in this pandemic situation for classwork?
For international students who are continuing their studies, and for new students who have been able to travel to Pennsylvania this year, all our Penn State campuses have remained open. Some learners needed to stay back home, and we had a wide range of in-person, mixed, and online courses for them. More than any other university, Penn State is home to more Top 10 US ranked online programs. Our students located around the world, including India, have access to a full suite of online coursework that is technologically engaging. We will continue to offer that campus life experience in the Spring of 2021 for students who wish to be on campus. However, we understand that it will not be possible for some students to return until August 2021 and we remain committed to our international students continuing in the meantime to follow their academic dreams, even during a global pandemic!
Q. Is the university offering relaxation in terms of the GRE score or the Standardized English testing exam, because of the Covid-19?
For 2021, the SAT and ACTs will be optional for undergraduate admissions, so these tests will not be required, and we hope to remain optional for 2022 and 2023. TOEFL and IELTS, Duolingo, TOEFL at Home Edition, and the IELTS Indicator are also accepted for the standardized English proficiency test. For graduate programs, we suggest that applicants directly contact their preferred graduate program. Some programs do not require GRE or GMAT, so please contact the department.
Q. For this year and next spring session, is there a reduction in the course fee for learners?
Our tuition or fees were not increased by Penn State this year. Decisions for next year have yet to be made, but we will remain conscious of student need at the undergraduate level. We will also continue to retain a large number of graduate student assistantships, fellowships, etc., at both the doctoral and masters level.
Q. Can students simultaneously study and work on the university campus in the present Covid-19 crisis?
Working and studying as a graduate assistant or through some other form of graduate support are significant possibilities. At the undergraduate level, each international student can work up to 20 hours a week on campus. Campus work will not cover the cost of tuition in the US if you choose this option. Still, international students tell us that it can be enormously helpful in covering the cost of living associated with accommodation, food, etc.
Q. What are the university’s precautions against Covid-19 on campus?
Since August 2020, we have a policy that masks will be worn by all our community and remain socially distant. Each day, we offer Covid on-demand testing, perform random testing, have a rigorous contact tracing operation, and have fully equipped isolation and quarantine facilities. The university stayed fully open for the entire fall semester due to all our efforts, and we expect to do so again in the spring.