20% of Harvard University’s freshman-year class has deferred their studies in 2020. Other schools around the world saw a comparable loss due to the situation in the education and travel sectors caused by the pandemic.
Firstly, international students faced travel and visa problems. Some of them simply couldn’t come to campus even in case they were allowed to by the school itself. Others were concerned about health risks or worried about a multitude of other issues that may pop up unexpectedly during these times of uncertainty.
Then, there was the online learning issue. Most students understand that there’s a fine line between occasionally getting online tutoring help and studying fully online. And they don’t want to pay full tuition for the latter.
Hence, the deferral rates increase. But is the decision to delay studying abroad the wisest? Perhaps not. We’ve found at least 5 reasons why you shouldn’t put off your international studies this year.
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The Unpredictable Pandemic
The idea to defer your international studies until the pandemic ends and everything comes back to normal may seem reasonable. But there’s a problem: no-one knows when exactly this will happen.
In the meantime, scientists and journalists continue to talk about the “new normal” and how it’s going to be shaping the lives of the people around the world for… perhaps, for as long as we can imagine.
The forecasts about when the current pandemic will end vary largely. Even with mass vaccination already going on in some countries, its pace is not fast enough. Some scientists even say that COVID-19 is going to be around for 7 years!
What’s even worse, this pandemic will not be the last – there are more disasters like this being predicted in the nearest future. Of course, it’s good to be optimistic and hope they won’t happen, but it’s also wise to hedge the risks.
Benefits of Studying Online
The primary concern for all students who are considering the deferral of their studies abroad is that if they choose to start this year, they’ll have to pay full tuition for an “impaired” studying experience.
Among the reasons why it is going to be impaired, they mean
- inability to come to live in the country where their school is;
- lower education quality because of the lack of in-person tuition;
- fewer networking opportunities as all the interaction between students is going to be online.
These are indeed serious issues. However, there are also some benefits that online studies can offer.
Firstly, it can help you save money. Yes, that’s true that you’ll have to pay full tuition for an “incomplete” learning experience. However, you’ll save on the cost of living and will be able to pay for essay on EssayWritingService whenever you need academic help! You won’t have to move away from home, you’ll be able to find a job much easier, and, most likely, will be able to devote more time to it than you would if you lived abroad.
Secondly, you won’t need to worry about visas and all the formalities that come with living in a foreign country. And when you’ll finally be allowed to come to campus, you’ll already have work experience and some savings to help you adapt!
Finally, some students like studying online as it offers more flexibility. In the end, you’ll get the same diploma as your peers who studied on campus, so, if you’re not really an extrovert – there’s not much difference.
Making New Connections
It may not look obvious, but being a student still offers lots of opportunities to socialize and make new connections. Yes, even if you study online.
There still will be group Zoom lectures and meetings, and most colleges and universities usually create closed student groups on social media so that they could interact.
If you think that it’s easy to make some connections without the school as a mediator, you’re probably right. But it will take time and effort and still won’t be the same.
Additionally, you’ll already be acquainted with your fellow students when you come to campus if you choose to study online. If you defer your education, you’ll have to make new connections from scratch, plus you’ll most likely be older than the majority of the class.
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It’s also crucial to understand that deferral may simply not be an option at your college or university. So, before even considering it, find out if you can do this at all.
Some schools, particularly, in the UK, only offer to try once more next year, which means you’ll lose your seat and will have to compete with your counterparts again.
Even those schools that do offer deferrals usually give no guarantees concerning the safety of your seat. As many students decided to delay their studies until they are allowed to come to campus, the competition next year will most likely be fierce.
Rising Tuition Costs
While it’s true that some colleges cut tuition costs dramatically last year, the effect will probably not last long. Even in the 2021-2022 academic year, small increases can be expected, though the majority of higher education institutions are most likely to freeze tuition.
The reason for such generosity is that many families can’t afford to pay for college given the economic situation on the whole. So, schools have no choice if they want to keep going.
However, this tendency is not likely to last long. As the economy recovers (and we don’t know yet how many years this process will take), tuition costs will inevitably start rising again. So, it’s crucial to make the most of the current situation, even at the cost of sacrificing on-campus studies, until the restrictions are lifted.
For international students, this problem is especially relevant as their home countries’ economies may be recovering more slowly. Thus, their families may experience financial problems more acutely due to the stagnation of the labor market at home and the low value of their national currency.
Keeping Scholarships and Financial Aid
We’ve already touched on some financial aspects, but there’s more left to be said. Besides saving money on the costs of living abroad and hedging financial risks, choosing to start your studies on time can also help you keep whatever financial aid or scholarship you’ve managed to obtain.
For instance, Australia’s USC doesn’t allow any scholarship deferment to its students. So, if you decide to take a gap year, you’ll have to submit a new application for the semester you plan to take up your place.
At Cambridge, the answer is also unambiguous: the Trust won’t keep your scholarship if you opt for a gap year. Instead, you’ll have to reapply, which, again, is a risk.
West Virginia University states that whether or not merit awards and financial aid can be deferred depends on a number of factors. It encourages students to discuss every particular case with its admissions counselor, but the risks are evident.
There are different types of scholarships and financial aid, and every case is unique. Yet, the situation in general is such that it’s better not to defer your studies if you don’t want to lose your hard-earned financial help. So, if money is an issue (and it almost always is), consider finding opportunities to get to your studies on time no matter what.
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Better Opportunities After Graduation
The economic situation may be just right at the moment to begin your studies and graduate four years later (that is, if you’re an undergraduate student).
As we’re in a deep recession now, the economy is not going to fully recover in the next 2-3 years or more. But when it will, you’ll find yourself in a privileged position. You’ll have a diploma, some work experience, and you’ll be able to easily join the refreshed job market that will once again need more young specialists.
On the other hand, if you defer your course, you may miss the perfect moment to join the labor force. Then, the best vacancies will already be occupied by those who came first, and you will have to wait in line and then face a much more challenging competition.
“Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today”, the saying goes. Similarly, it’s best not to put off till next year what you can do during this one. The reason is simple and obvious: life is generally unpredictable, especially in these times of uncertainty.
Next year, your circumstances may change – you’ll probably find a job at home that you wouldn’t want to leave, or you may start a family, or just get tired of waiting and decide not to get a degree abroad altogether.
Oppositely, if you start your studies without deferral, life will take a whole different course. You’ll already be a student, even if (temporarily) studying online in your home country. So, you’ll be planning your schedule and life in general accordingly. You’ll be committed to getting your degree and less likely to get sidetracked than if you defer it.
Deferring your international studies may seem attractive given the current situation. Many students have already made this choice last year, statistics show. But was it right to do so? And will it be this year?
We’ve given you our reasons against deferring. Do you have any counterarguments? Consider them carefully, and we hope you’ll make the best decision!