Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, most of the US universities are currently offering two options to fall 2020 students:
1) Online semester for fall 2020 and regular on-campus coaching from spring 2021
2) Deferral to spring 2021/fall 2021
Now as you are aware, the situation is indeed gruesome in the United States where the number of corona patients is increasing every day and there is no clarity on when the pandemic will be arrested and things will normalize. Under such circumstances, it is obvious for the universities to offer deferrals or move to online teaching as a precautionary measure.
However, as Indian students, here are a few things you must take into consideration before making any decision:
Feasibility of online semester
- Even for the online medium, students will have to pay full tuition fees for the full semester. (Some universities may reduce fees by 20 to 25 percent)
- Online semester will mean no financial assistance, no campus jobs/RA/TA which then makes the course unnecessarily expensive to bear.
- Online semester does not offer the exposure and opportunities that a student otherwise gets while on campus.
- There are certain limitations to online coaching since the interaction is usually limited as compared to classroom coaching.
- In any case, students will have to apply for the F1 visa for spring 2021 and in the worst circumstances, if the visa gets rejected; the entire amount spent on the online fall semester goes waste.
Current visa scenario
- The US consulate has been non-operational since March 16 and there is no clarity when it will resume operations. Once it resumes, there will be a tremendous rush for visas and the situation will become chaotic. (Though it is quite possible that the consulate will give priority to student visas.)
Taking all these factors into account, we recommend that you get in touch with the concerned university official and request time till the end of May to make the final decision of deferral.