Impact of COVID-19 on American universities & admissions: An overview by SUNY Binghamton

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES & ADMISSIONS (1)

Last week, Dilip Oak’s Academy conducted a webinar on the current scenario in American universities, the impact of COVID-19 on admissions for Master’s degree, and funding opportunities in the USA. The webinar was presided over by Maggie Wolford, director of graduate admissions and recruitment, SUNY Binghamton. Here is an overview of her valuable insights into the scenario in America concerning several important pointers viz.:

  1. Location: Universities in the major cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New York have been more affected by the pandemic as compared to those in remote areas, like SUNY Binghamton, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, University of Oklahoma, Norman, etc.
  2. Financial impact: High class, Tier 1 research universities (those offering STEM courses) can sustain the effects of the pandemic, but liberal arts and other smaller universities have incurred significant losses.
  3. Factors for resuming in-person instruction: Universities will decide whether to start the in-person instruction soon or wait, depending upon the number of COVID cases in the area, cost of testing, and testing policies. (whether they have compulsory testing, voluntary testing, or symptomatic testing, and the budget for each)
  4. Spring semester schedule: The majority of the universities are quite likely to push their spring semester start dates. Usually, the spring semester commences in January, but universities might extend it to February. In that case, students will have extra time for project completion, but their holidays will be reduced.
  5. Impact on funding: Due to online instruction, positions for Teaching Assistantships are likely to reduce. Research Assistantships will also depend upon whether the university is funded by the government or by private agencies. Government funding has been reduced significantly for other fields, but a few like Supply Chain Management and Healthcare Management will still receive enough funding. Graduate Assistantships won’t be affected since university jobs like web page development, networking, etc. will continue.
  6. Impact on CPT and internships: CPT is activated only after completing two on-campus semesters. If you join in the spring semester, you cannot work on the CPT in summer. In that case, you can utilize the time for summer courses and graduate early, or take campus paid internships which don’t require CPT. For example, lab assistant jobs, office jobs, admin jobs, etc. You can also take up certification courses free of cost, which will add to your résumé.
  7. Impact on admissions: Presently, the examination system all over the world has been disturbed due to the pandemic. Many universities have waived the GRE requirement, and they are accepting unofficial transcripts as well. But the situation will remain uncertain for a few more months.

For the full webinar, you can visit our YouTube channel:

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For detailed guidance on higher education in America, Canada and Germany and assistance on university selection, drafting SOPs and LORs, join our admission counseling today!

 

 

 

 

15 cheapest and 15 most expensive American universities for international students

 

cheapest & costliest American universities

Pursuing M.S. in the USA is often expensive, especially for international students because unlike American citizens who pay in-state tuition fees, international students have to pay full tuition fees. For example, if an annual in-state tuition fee is $8000, an out-of-state tuition fee can be as high as $20,000. These tuition fees are also dependent on the ranking of the university. US universities are given rankings by certain private agencies like the US News, Princeton Review, etc. and as a thumb rule, the higher the ranking, the costlier is the university. Generally, state-funded universities are cheaper than private universities. Of course, there are certain exceptions to this.  However, just because the universities are cheaper, it does not mean they do not offer quality education.

Taking all these factors into consideration, at Dilip Oak’s Academy, we have shortlisted around 150 accredited universities which offer quality education and also offer good job opportunities.

Below is a list of the 15 most expensive and the 15 cheapest universities you can apply to, for pursuing a master’s degree program in the USA. The list is based only on tuition fees for fall 2020 and is not inclusive of living expenses because the living expenses mentioned on the I-20 form are on the higher side and the actual living expenses are less than that.

15 cheapest universities

SR.NO                Name of University State Code Tuition Fees
1 Minnesota State University MN 7424
2 University of Central Missouri MO 8697
3 South Dakota State University – Brookings SD 8876
4 University of South Dakota SD 10330
5 University of Texas – El Paso TX 10664
6 Brigham Young University UT 11160
7 Bowling Green State University OH 11611
8 Sam Houston State University TX 11630
9 North Western Polytechnic University IL 12150
10 Indiana State University – Terre Haute IN 12260
11 University of Wyoming – Laramie WY 12566
12 Texas A and M University – Kingsville TX 12839
16 University of Arkansas-Littlerock AR 13320
13 Arkansas State University AR 13500
14 Wright State University-Dayton OH 13800
17 California State University-Long Beach CA 14568
15 Central Michigan University MI 15300

15 most expensive universities

SR.NO                Name of University State Code Tuition Fees
1 Columbia University NY 58656
2 North Western University – Evanston IL 56067
3 Dartmouth College NH 55605
4 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute NY 53757
5 Johns Hopkins University MD 52170
6 University of Michigan – Ann Arbor MI 50326
7 Boston University MA 49886
8 Carnegie Mellon University PA 49372
9 Brown University RI 49146
10 Duke University NC 49080
11 Cornell University NY 48900
12 New York University NY 45426
13 University of Pennsylvania PA 44814
14 University of Rochester NY 44608
15 University of Southern California CA 46948

For more guidance on university selection and admission process, enroll for our expert admission counseling today!

 

 

 

Why Indian students planning for bachelors in the USA should take AP exams

Why take AP exams_

While the standardized tests like SAT and ACT are very popular among Indian students aspiring to pursue bachelors in America, the Advanced Placement (AP) Test is often disregarded by most due to complexity of its courses. A lot of students consider them challenging and shy away from taking this exam. In today’s blog, we aim to address these misconceptions about the AP and throw light on how Indian students can actually benefit from this exam.

What is AP? (Advanced Placement) 

AP Exams are standardized college-level exams designed to measure your mastery over a specific subject and help you earn credits.  Under this, there are 38 courses from various disciplines to choose from like AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science, AP Chemistry, AP Physics etc. You can choose the course for subjects related to your career of choice and your expertise. AP exams are scored on the scale of 1 to 5, where each score corresponds to a college course grade equivalent.

Are AP exams really challenging?

Yes.

AP exams are definitely challenging and demanding because they require you to dive deep in the subject, beyond the set purview.

Does that mean you should skip them?

No.

Though AP exams are rigorous, they are definitely worth taking, especially for Indian students, due to the following reasons:

Higher chances of getting into a top-ranked university: Taking AP exams adds weightage to your college application and helps you stand out among hundred others. Top-ranked universities prefer students who give AP exam because performance in AP demonstrates your thoroughness in the subject and ability to manage university-level studies.

Early graduation and reduced tuition cost:  Taking AP exam during high school helps you to earn college credits even before starting with the college. A high AP score of 4 or 5 allows you to earn enough credits so as to skip a semester or even a year. In that case, you can graduate almost 6 months to 1 year early and save on your tuition fees by thousands of dollars. Some universities also allow you to skip introductory courses and jump to upper-level courses and even bag internships.

Scholarships and funding opportunities: Most US universities offer good scholarships to high AP scores. This enables the student to further save up on the tuition cost. Some universities also offer an Advanced Placement International Diploma (APID) to Indian students who score exceptionally well in more than 5 AP exams. Hence, even if you have a humble financial background, your AP score can help you complete your bachelors in a high ranked university at a relatively low cost.

What is the ideal time to give the AP?

The ideal time to give the AP is in your 11th or  12th grade, depending on the number of exams you want to take and your level of preparation. You can find the details of AP exams on https://www.collegeboard.org/.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we offer guidance on these pre-requisite examinations for bachelors in America and also conduct online SAT coaching to help you ace your prep!

To know more about bachelors in America, examinations, the application process, visa and other requirements for bachelors in America, attend our free webinar on 20th September. Register for the webinar today!

 

 

 

Time to rejoice: Trump administration revokes the rule regarding online classes for fall semester

A huge relief for International students

Indian students can now heave a sigh of relief as the Trump administration has finally revoked the new visa rule that required International students taking fully online classes in the US for the fall semester, to return to their home countries.

In our last blog dated 08/07/2020, we wrote in detail about the new rule and its possible repercussions on existing and new students aspiring to go to the US.

Soon after the announcement of this rule on July 6, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and many other institutes as well top American IT companies had filed lawsuits against the administration, seeking reversal of the rule. In response to these lawsuits, the Boston Federal Court revoked this rule on Tuesday, and asked the immigration authorities to pull the directive and return to the “status quo.”

Another factor that contributed to the reversal of the rule is the fact that a whooping number of international students join US universities every year and provide the required tuition revenue. International students contribute billions of dollars to the US economy every year. Sustenance of the new rule would have plummeted the enrollment and subsequently led to a deep financial crisis for the universities as well the country.

Now that rule has been revoked, international students, including Indian students, will be able to stay in the US even if they are pursuing online classes for the fall 2020 semester. New students who are in the process of joining the US universities for spring 2021 sessions will also be able to smoothly continue their visa process and education in the US.

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Deferrals And Student Visas

FAQs about deferrals and Student Visa

With the current pandemic situation and uncertainties about deferrals and Visa regulations, most of you who are in the process of joining US universities for MS or who are planning to join next year, have a lot of queries and doubts. To guide you better and help you make a decision, here are the answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1) I am currently taking GRE classes, and I plan to apply next year. Is it safe to go next year?

Answer: Yes. You can safely apply for Fall 2021 since the situation will normalize by then. Things will begin to get under control right after the November presidential elections.

Q2) Should I defer my Fall 20 admission to Spring 21 or Fall 21?

Answer: At the moment, you can defer your admission to Spring 21 since it is likely that the situation will be under control by then and in-person classes will resume. Otherwise, you will have to extend the deferral to Fall 21.

Q3) I have received admits from eight universities. Will all of them accept deferral for Fall 21?

Answer: No. All the universities may not accept deferral for Fall 21. Some of them are asking students to reapply next year for the fall session.  In that case, your application will be evaluated along with the new applicants. Fortunately, the number of students applying next year will be comparatively less. Therefore, your chances of acceptance will not be hampered.

Q4) When should I book my visa dates if I want to go in Spring 21?

Answers: Visa booking dates for October are now available. Visit the official website of US Consulate for booking your date.

Q5) I am planning to defer to Spring 21, and hence I have booked my visa date for October 20. If I again extend my deferral to Fall 21, do I have to book the visa date and pay the visa fee again?

Answer: In case you book the date for October but instead of joining in Spring 21, you decide to defer to Fall 21, you have to cancel the booked date and reschedule another date, anytime within a year. You need not pay the Visa fee again.

Q6) Will the current situation in the US affect my internship?

Answer: According to the SEVP Advisory, all Indian students pursuing/looking to pursue practical training opportunities, including Curricular Practical Training (CPT), pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), post-completion OPT, and/or the STEM Extension OPT are advised to remain in contact with their Designated School Official (DSO) regarding their situation.

Q7) Will the pandemic affect research and other funding opportunities offered by universities?

Answer: Since majority students are not joining universities for Fall 20, it is affecting their financial condition. On this backdrop, it is most likely that the funding opportunities will be difficult for at least the first two semesters.

Q8) Will the current situation and new rules affect the STEM category?

Answer: As of now, there is no official declaration about it, so it should not be a matter of concern.

Q9) Many universities are exempting GRE, SAT, and English Language Test scores for admissions for spring 21 and in some cases, even for fall 21. Should we not give these exams?

Answer: Very few students are applying right now hence the universities are offering exemptions. We still recommend you to appear for these exams because when the number of applicants increases next year, GRE and SAT scores will give an upper hand to your application.

For any other query about GRE, US admissions and jobs, visit our FAQ Section.

Click HERE to enroll for our online GRE batches.

Four ways to build a great career profile during lockdown

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We know how this lockdown has affected your future plans, delayed your dream of flying to the US to start your master’s, and has left you wondering what to do! Well, our suggestion: Do not let the pandemic dampen your spirits. While at home, seize the opportunity, enhance your skillset and start building a strong career profile. Value-addition is the need of the hour and with ample hours at your disposal, you better spend them productively.

Here are four great ways to build a solid profile and skyrocket your career:

  1. Add to your certifications: There is nothing more comfortable than sitting on the couch, snacking and taking an online lesson without the hassle of travelling, or sitting in a class of 100 people! Lookup for online courses, certifications, short term diplomas and get started. There are various websites that offer tons of free courses that are certified and recognized by recruiters.
  2. Internship/Job: If you aren’t already working and you have made up your mind to defer your MS admission to spring 2021 or fall 2021, you have enough time to take a high leap and start working. Look actively for a job that matches your skillset or you can also try something that is not directly in the spectrum of your profile but you are enthusiastic about. Not only will this help you utilize your time prudently, but will also make you independent.
  3. Freelancing: If you do not want to go for a full-time job because you are still dicey about your deferral decision, take up freelance projects. It is flexible, keeps you occupied, gives you hands-on experience, and pays you well! It is a win-win situation.
  4. Learn something new: Co-curricular activities and unique skills are always appreciated by US universities and recruiters. Challenge yourself and pick up a new skill. If not great at it, you will have learnt something 20 other students of your batch or 50 other candidates for the position you apply for, do not know!

So gear up and get going!

Lockdown Dilemma : Go For Online Semester or Request a Deferral?

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.

Coronavirus Lockdown: US Student Visas and Admission Deferral Updates – Part 3

With the rising number of patients in the United States and the lockdown declared in India, there is no clarity on when the consulates will start processing the visas again. Considering this, it is anticipated that there will be a backlog of visa interviews and many prospective fall 2020 students are panicking whether they will get their visas in time.

Though the consulates are positive of issuing visas on time, many universities in the US have begun offering deferrals in case situations do not improve until August 2020 and students need to postpone their travel and join the course later in Spring. 

As per our latest correspondence, the Offices of International Admissions of most universities have offered deferral for students from one semester up to one year. 

All the fall 2020 undergraduates can get deferral to spring 2021. The graduate deferral, however, can only be offered by the program coordinator. Students are therefore required to connect with the graduate advisors of respective universities since not all units (programs) are offered deferrals. 

Though most universities are offering deferrals up to one year, they are encouraging students to not defer at the moment and wait until May. 

For students who are in the middle of their semester in the US but are currently in India, can fly back to the States once the travel ban is lifted and more so, after obtaining clearance from the US Consulate. For regular updates, visit the DHS and consulate websites.

Important links: 

https://www.dhs.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus-news-updates

https://in.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/

Coronavirus Lockdown: US Admission Process Updates – Part 2

In the last blog, we saw the fall 2020 course commencement decisions that the universities are likely to make.

As per the recent updates we received from the office of graduate and undergraduate admissions of a few universities, the fall 2020 admission process is going on and students who are still sending applications can connect with the admission office staff via video chat and email. Those who haven’t received any admits yet, have nothing to worry as the admission process will not be canceled and they will receive admits, though the decision may be released later than the usual time taken by the universities. 

Fall 2020 Graduate Admissions

The graduate application deadlines will not be extended for most universities. As we informed you in the last blog, those of you who haven’t received the I-20 approval yet, the staff are creating the I-20s but the shipments are being withheld until the mail services in India fully resume. For admitted students, the university will send an email with the student’s SEVIS number from the I20 which can be used to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee that is mandatory for the F1 visa application process. 

Fall 2020 Undergraduate Admissions 

In consideration of the disruption of exams and classes, most universities have extended the application deadline for fall 2020 undergraduate applications to May 1, 2020. 

Sending official transcripts and financial documents 

In case you haven’t been able to obtain your official academic records/transcripts due to closure of school or college, US universities are allowing you to send unofficial, digital transcripts for securing admission. 

Even if the deadlines for sending graduate applications have not been extended, most universities have extended their document deadline for graduate admissions to May 1, 2020. This is however applicable to only admitted students. This means you can send your official or university attested mark sheets/degree certificates/transcripts to the office and finish other paperwork by May 1. The packages need to be post-marked by May 1, 2020. Few other universities have also extended these deadlines up to mid-May. 

Most universities have also announced an extension to send financial documents. Some universities have extended this deadline up to May 15 while some of them have extended it up to July 1. 

In the next part, we will cover the updates on visa, program decisions and deferrals offered by universities. The next blog will be published on Saturday,  4th April 2020.

Coronavirus Lockdown: Student Safety in US and Course Commencement Updates – Part 1

To update our students on the changing situations in the US due Coronavirus outbreak, we are publishing this blog that will be carried in three parts. In this first part, we shall provide you with firsthand information about student safety, fall 2020 admissions, and course commencement decision.

 International student safety scenario

All the international students in the US are safe and have been asked to stay in their respective housing facilities within the US.  For those who are on campus, many universities are providing temporary accommodations with fixed supplies until any other arrangements are made by the student.  All the universities are offering only online classes for the spring 2020 semester. Universities have offered webinars to enable students to continue their studies and chat in real-time with the faculty members. Most universities have also shifted their administrative offices online. Students have also been provided with essential contacts and links to US Health Departments.

Fall 2020 admissions and course commencement decisions  

A lot of confusion is going on among Indian students about the fall 2020 admissions and whether the course will commence in time or not, considering that the embassy has temporarily stopped processing US visas. However, universities are actively arranging webinars for the prospective students where they are informing students about the process. You can get in touch with the universities you have secured admits from and join the webinars. 

Meanwhile, here are a few developments about the fall admissions and course commencement, that as Indian students, you must pay heed to:  

  • Even if the visa process has been stopped, for now, admissions of students who have received admits for fall 2020 is secure. 
  • As per the possibilities cited by a few prominent US universities, there are three ways in which fall 2020 session will be commenced: 
    1. If the situation comes under control by May 2020, the session will commence in August as per regular schedule but the students will be required to join 14 days prior to the commencement date and they will be quarantined for these 14 days before moving them to the campus.
    2. If the situation comes under control by June/July, the semester will commence in   September and it will be an on-campus semester.
    3. If the situation does not improve until July/August, the fall semester too could likely be shifted to online mode.  The decision is also likely to be influenced by the situation in India but in any case, the fall semester and admissions will not be canceled. 
  • Those of you with I-20 forms already approved, their forms will land in India on time since the shipping process is still functional in the US but the forms won’t be delivered at home. They will be delivered only after the lockdown in India is lifted. Those who have their approval pending will have to wait for the updates as the Department of Homeland Security will be taking a call on it soon. 

 

The next blog will cover updates on the admission process to US universities and will be published on Thursday, 2nd April 2020.

Ten Reasons Why USA Remains The Best Choice For Indian Students (Part 2)

In the last blog, we covered the following points:

  1. Abundant employment opportunities
  2. The strongest economy in the world
  3. Worldwide acceptability of US degrees
  4. Wide range of universities to choose from

In this blog, we will cover the remaining six points:

  1. Access to the latest technology and research

It is a well-established fact that US education offers an updated syllabus in accordance with the industry requirements. It provides easy access to the latest developments in various fields and enables you to stay abreast of the changing technology which adds to employability. Almost all US universities focus on research-based education which again opens multiple career avenues for those of you who wish to work on research-based projects or go for a Ph.D. subsequently.

  1. Students of all calibers can make it to the US

One of the biggest plus points of studying in the US is that due to a large number of universities compared to Germany, Canada, and other European countries, students who are fairly good and not extra-ordinary, too can make it to good universities and secure good jobs. With decent GPAs, good overall experience and a GRE score above 300, you can definitely make it to a good state university in the US.

  1. Flexible course structure

In the USA, you have a wide scope to choose your subjects and there is ample flexibility to switch courses and classes to manage your studies at a steady pace without feeling burdened or obligated. This ease of learning lets you settle faster and allows you to blend in with the culture, both inside and outside the classroom.

  1. 100 percent loan availability

Another key point of studying in the USA is the easy availability of education loans as compared to other countries. Due to job guarantee and high salary structures in the US, most financial institutions have the guarantee of repayment and therefore provide easy loans for higher education in the US. We assist you in the process with our partner financial institution that offers up to 100 percent loan against property. Many a time, they even offer unsecured loan to students joining universities with a high reputation.

  1. Rich campus experience

US universities are known for their rich campus life which includes not just academic activities but also various extra-curricular activities, volunteering events, clubs, and student organizations. These engaging experiences play a huge role in ensuring the overall development of a student. What adds to the comfort is the excellent student support, aid, and services that these universities offer to make you feel at home.

  1. Lifestyle

The USA is probably the only place that offers a perfect blend of everything and has something for everyone. Its multi-cultural environment becomes one of the most conducive factors to settle down. Be it in the college or at the workplace, your interaction with diverse groups of people allows you to develop in a versatile manner.

Coronavirus and Student Lives of Academy students in USA

We have been getting several inquiries from the concerned family members and media regarding the impact of Coronavirus on the lives of foreign students and especially students from the academy currently studying in the USA. We wanted to clarify some of the questions regarding the same.

Housing:
90% of the students from the academy live away from the campus, in private apartments which are less expensive and more convenient for our students. They usually live with a group of fellow Indian students, so they do have a support system. These students have not been impacted and continue to live in their own rented space.
For students who do live on the campus itself, some universities have asked students to look for housing out of the campus to encourage social distancing, however it is important to note that in many such universities – students can file applications to request an exception to the campus closure. Additionally, several U.S. universities are willing to work one-on-one with international students and assist them with accommodation during hardships.
In the majority of the universities, food service, campus health, libraries, and computer labs are open to supporting international students.
Additionally, university medical phone lines and medical services are open for diagnosis and potential testing of students who may show any symptoms or need medical attention.

Food:
Grocery stores are open all across the U.S.A and online food delivery services are open as well. Universities have been in constant communication with students regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and as a result, students were already alerted early on that they need to stock up on groceries and essential supplies. Medical pharmacies too, are open across the USA in all states. These pharmacies also carry basic food supplies which the students can purchase in case of emergency.

Academics:
The majority of the US universities have canceled in-classroom instruction and have moved the classes online, and this will most likely continue for the entire spring semester.
For future students: coming from a country where coronavirus is present has no effect on whether students are admitted or not in the universities. The admissions process will continue as per the usual guidelines of each university.
We urge everyone to stay safe and take the utmost care during these times. We also want to ensure that there is no anxiety or incorrect information that can cause additional worry to friends and family in India.