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What international students need to know about Fall 2020

The Covid19 conundrum is looming over everyone’s head. With new rules, regulations, and restrictions that have been erected by different governments throughout the world, the future is uncertain and unpredictable. Where does this leave international students who’ve been recently admitted to U.S. colleges? What are the things that Fall 2020 students should keep in mind?

The New Abnormal

The routine processing of visas has been suspended as a precautionary measure by numerous U.S. consulates which poses a challenge for U.S. universities to accommodate their international undergraduate students with the fast-approaching fall semester. Here are some bits of information that might help students with the quickly approaching fall semester.

You can Defer your Enrolment

International students who have already paid their deposits can defer their enrolment for a semester or year if their return is impacted due to the virus-related paranoia or visa and travel restrictions. Universities such as the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University—Bloomington, Michigan State University, and Brandeis University in Massachusetts have kept the admission deferral window open for students.  

Patty Croom who is the Director of International Admissions, Recruitment and Student Success at Michigan State University says that ” If students cannot begin in August due to current travel complications, or simply feel safer coming to the U.S. a semester later, they may start their studies in person in January 2021 rather than August 2020”.

If you are concerned about deposits and refunds, try contacting individual college help desks to resolve your doubts since colleges are slowly devising policies that best suit the student interests.

Online Classes

Students who are not deferring are expected to attend college lectures. Some colleges across the U.S. are planning to reopen but guardians are still walking on eggshells especially when international travel is involved. Students from abroad are left only with the option of attending classes online. Visa restrictions and backlogs due to embassy closures are also prompting the colleges to bring their classrooms online.

Although universities are preparing to resume in-person classes with full fervour, it is very difficult if not impossible for international students to mark their physical attendance.

Weighing the Pros and cons of Online Lessons

It’s been said enough. But we might as well say it again. Virtual classes come with both pros and cons. Cons include time-zone differences and lack of ideal infrastructure. But colleges with their strong planning and faculty framework have fabricated new and simplified schedules for the students attending online classes. You might miss out on the class jokes or P.E. periods, but that’s fine. At least you are safe at home. Follow these points to gain maximum from your virtual classes.

  • Be regular and punctual for your classes.

  • Some colleges also offer recordings of lectures in case you missed one of them.

  • Take down notes.

  • With real-time lectures, you can instantly raise doubts and get your answers.

  • Keep an eye on the latest updates and news from the government and college authorities.

  • Always keep in touch with your professors and socialize with your classmates whenever possible. You can use social media to make friends from your course. This way, you can tally and share notes with the regular students in your college and you will know what you’ve missed.

  • Don’t go out for baseless reasons, practice social distancing, and wear a mask!

F1 visas for Newcomers*

F1 visas permit a student to live in the States until their course completion. The U.S. government has frozen F1 visas for new admissions in fall 2020. Hence no student will be issued an entry visa if his/her college is offering complete online classes. So, for now, focus on your online lectures and wait for the visa freeze to ease out. You might get a very short window for completing your F1 visa formalities once the ban lifts. Be vigilant and keep all your documents arranged for submission.

Everything will fall into Place

The admission process might appear a mess due to the mutating restrictions and uncertainty, but your college is working behind the scenes for your smooth induction and regular classes. Don’t worry and concentrate on your online lessons. Work hard and gain new skills if you have time in hand. Keep the big picture in mind. You are working toward a college degree which will equip you professionally. Don’t just count the days to normalcy. But make the days count!

*Visa updates change every day, this was relevant on the day the article was posted.

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