COVID-19: Options Before Indian Students Planning to Study Abroad 

Notable career counselor Viral Doshi feels the ‘American Dream’ may no longer be intact amid the coronavirus crisis.

4 min read

Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

What are foreign universities saying on admissions? Should students with acceptance letters decide to opt for online classes if their foreign varsity asks them to? Is it advisable to take a gap year? The Quint caught up with notable career counselor Viral Doshi, in order to understand where exactly do the Indian students planning to study abroad this year stand, in times of the coronavirus crisis.

When can foreign universities begin classes?

“Chances are that they may not even start classes in the months of September-October when they typically start. Because I don't think they have the bandwidth right now. They don't have attendance in their offices, they don't have things which are going to be ready. So, they will require time, so obviously the next best thing is to do online classes from whichever university you are gonna be going to. And that, of course, is a challenge, because the whole experience of going to a foreign university is that first week of orientation, that whole camaraderie which you build right there. Obviously, when you do virtual classes, that's not going to happen. Also, when you start classes in January, to adapt to colleges is going to be very challenging because of the weather. People are not used to it, from India when you go to America or England, the weather is so different in January. Everything is not as good as it is in August or September. I think these are very trying times.”


What can students do in a gap year?

“Assume the corona situation doesn't subside even till the end of this year and still there are cases of corona everywhere nobody's going to travel. Nobody's going to go for internships easily, even companies won't allow it because they are still coping with this thing. I think you have to think about something innovative. And I think, necessity is the mother of invention and I am sure we will find out what opportunities arise online as you can see a lot of people are going and teaching online. They are looking at going and teaching people who don't have resources like books for some time. People will do musical concerts, they will do yoga lessons a lot of things they will do, but nothing is going to be concrete till the corona subsides.”

Can students apply next year?

“American colleges will definitely give priority to a lot of their local students from the states which are impacted by corona and they are going to take the budget out of the number of international students and reduce the number of international students.  Number two, also a lot of students have taken a gap year so what will happen is that they will be a part of the international cohort for next year. So, out of the 10 percent international, 2 percent gets knocked out for the students they take from America and  2 percent will go to the people who are going to be taking a gap year, so you are only fighting for 6 percent of the seats. So, this year I have been telling every parent and student who's applying, please be realistic these are not the usual times, admissions are going to be extremely challenging wherever you'll be applying in the world, because of these two major reasons, I would say.”


Should students apply to Indian universities?

“What I have seen is suddenly in the last one month, there has been a spurt of students applying to Indian colleges whether it be Ashoka, OP Jindal, Symbiosis Flame, NMIMS, Christ or KREA. All private colleges have suddenly have had a great demand in people applying because they are gonna take that backup. If not a backup, at least a year out here and see how things pan out. The private colleges will have to increase the number of seats because the demand is going to outstrip the supply. And I think this is also a time when a lot of private colleges should seriously look at even introducing distance learning courses. Because what is happening today, there are no distance learning courses, unfortunately of quality available in India, barring a few.”

Is the ‘American Dream’ still intact?

“I think opportunities for jobs and internships in the next four to five years are going to be very challenging because companies in America Canada and the UK are hurting. And they will prioritise jobs for the locals out there. So, be mentally prepared if your child is going abroad and that whole American dream which was intact for so many years, where you would go there, do internships, get a job, do a postgrad degree and either come back or stay there. That's all going to be completed disrupted. Parents and students should be prepared and embrace the fact that they would have to come back to India and  they should look at opportunities in India very favorably and come back with a positive mind because India is also a very happening place.”

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