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How the coronavirus is throwing academe into a tailspin, impacting US college admissions

Some US colleges have dropped requirements for applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, citing the coronavirus pandemic
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   19-03-2020

How the coronavirus is throwing academe into a tailspin

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic destroyed all college routines this week. The outbreak in the US is soon expected to outstrip the capacity of its hospitals, as in Italy, where they have resorted to makeshift tents. Since most colleges in North America have sent students home, there’s a good chance that some campuses that have residential infrastructure — including Wi-Fi, IT networks, and dining services — may end up housing patients to relieve stress on local hospitals.

The coronavirusis taking its toll on academe. Imperial College professor Neil Ferguson, whose bombshell coronavirus study reportedly shocked the White House and UK’s Downing Street out of their light-touch response to the pandemic, has himself come down with classic coronavirus symptoms. According to media reports, Professor Ferguson who was present at a press conference with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at No 10 Downing Street just 24 hours before his symptoms first appeared, has now slid into isolation.

Meanwhile, Stephen Schwartz, a professor of pathology at the University of Washington died due to the coronavirus. Four University of Florida students just tested positive for the coronavirus.

My own nephews and nieces, who study in Boston, Toronto, London and Ireland, are finally back in India after enduring varying degrees of nightmare travel and airlines ineptness. My 18-year-old niece, a freshman studying anthropology at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, which is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world, ran an obstacle course to get back home to New Delhi. The overzealous and ill-informed staff at Finnair in Helsinki Airport, in Finland casually misinterpreted the Indian government advisory and wrongly offloaded her and another young Indian college student traveling from Ireland on March 13 as they had OCI cards.

The cavalry had to be pressed into action! By that of course I mean that the Indian embassy in Finland finally swung into action and sent an email to the Finnair vice president confirming that the students had a right to board the flight and travel according to the OCI advisory within the time limit of March 13 at 1200 GMT. Thanks to Finnair misinterpreting the Indian government advisory the two students spent 36 hours at Helsinki Airport, in Finland.

“I feel I’ve been trapped in this airport forever,” quipped my niece when I spoke to her on the phone.

Case Western, Mansfield drop SAT

Case Western Reserve University and Mansfield University of Pennsylvania both dropped requirements for applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, citing the coronavirus outbreak.

Mansfield said that its policy would be effective immediately, for fall 2020 applicants. Meanwhile, Case Western announced that its policy would affect those seeking to apply in the fall of 2021 or after. The university said that the cancellation of SAT and ACT dates sped up the change.

"We would rather students focus as best they can on their academic subjects rather than worrying about the SAT or ACT,” said Richard Bischoff, the university’s vice president for enrollment management.

Open houses cancelled

Royal Holloway, University of London canceled what it calls “taster days” aimed at potential students planning to visit the sprawling campus and meet Holloway’s professors.

Early Events for admitted students can offer a useful introduction to the college campus, helping students get their bearings and learn more about the many services available to them.

“But many such programs are shutting down as colleges close due to coronavirus outbreak,” reported US News & World Report.

Most colleges and universities on both side of the Atlantic are now encouraging students to take virtual tours of their campuses.

Graduation ceremonies look iffy

Smilarly, some colleges across the US have already canned graduation ceremonies — but dozens of others have left their students in limbo as they grapple with the difficult decision.

While some schools say it’s too soon to tell where things will stand in two months, others, like Berea College in Kentucky, say they’re cancelling now so that parents won’t have to back out of travel plans at the last minute.

Brigham Young University in Utah and the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia have also cancelled ceremonies. Cornell University is hopeful that commencement can go on as scheduled, but “it is unknown at this time whether that will be possible.”



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