Community & Service 28 Oct 2020

University applications during a pandemic

By Kemal Taskin, Vanessa Kim, Christian Yanez (University advisors)
Photograph by CIS Communications

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many areas of our lives, and we’ve all had to find ways to adjust. Our grade 12s are no exception, as they work to confirm their post-CIS plans. While finding the right university is always a large part of the decision making process, students and their families now also need to consider health measures, safety, changing visa requirements and global border closures. 

Will admission rates be affected by deferrals?

One of the questions we are often asked relates to anticipated general admission rates for the 2021-2022 academic year. Students and parents seem to have the impression that there might be fewer spots available for the Class of 2021, as students from the Class of 2020 may have taken a gap year or deferred their enrollment.

According to the universities we have contacted, the number of deferral requests they had received was actually quite low and manageable. The number of existing deferrals from the past year would not have a significant impact on admissions rate for Fall 2021 either. This may be a result of students weighing the pros and cons of taking a gap year during a pandemic, and deciding that it's better to begin their university studies immediately.

Tips: Applying to university during COVID

Despite the uncertain future that lies ahead, we have a few tips for grade 12s who are preparing to move on to higher education. 

  1. Focus on the variables you can control: Work with your university advisor to determine how you can put your best foot forward and submit a highly qualified application in a timely manner.

  2. Ask for help when necessary: Continue to communicate with your parents/guardians and university advisor. Ask questions or for help if necessary. After all, the university admission process is a collaborative partnership between you and your parents/guardians, university advisor, teachers and other relevant stakeholders.

  3. Think beyond academics: What kind of university life is important to you? Think location, geographic region, student diversity, student life, campus culture, tuition, scholarship opportunities

  4. Consider COVID-related factors: Identify the factors that may have an impact on your learning. For example, how are classes being conducted (online, on-campus or a combination), how flexible is the university in its deferment policy, what’s the COVID situation in the place where your university is located, is there a nearby facility where you can get tested for COVID, is there a hospital nearby if you get sick.

  5. Take a proactive approach: There is no right or wrong way to approach the university application process. Stay focused, but remain flexible during your decision making process.