Episode Notes | Episode Transcript

Episode Notes

Episode Title: College News Fit to Digest. April 25, 2020

Episode summary introduction: Making sense of the College News of the week curated by Alma Matters. Coronavirus continues to drive the news. Shveta Bagade, College Counselor gives us her take on the news.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Fall Semester. On campus or Online?  [2:08]
  • Gap Year. How to go about it? [6:14]
  • SAT/ACT tests at home?  [9:16]

Our Guest: Shveta Bagade, College Counselor based in Silicon Valley California.

Resources mentioned in this episode:


  • It is imperative to redraw the College Lists based on the ongoing events and we offer a FREE review of the College List by our Counselors. Email the list to podcasts@almamatters.io with the Subject: “College List” along with your profile.
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Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Venkat  0:11  

Hi, welcome to the podcast, College Matters. Alma Matters. Today I'm really excited to announce the start of a new series to review the news of the week, and get our counselor Shveta Bagade to give us her take on it. Each week, we'll pick two or three news items relevant to colleges, students and parents, especially international students, and discuss them with Shveta. Hopefully, at the end of each of these podcasts, you will have some idea of what action or changes you might need to make to your college applications process. Hope you enjoy the series, and without further ado, on to our first episode. Enjoy.

Venkat  1:08  

Hi Shveta

Shveta 1:10  

Good morning. How are you?

Venkat  1:11  

Good. How are you?

Shveta 1:13  

Not bad, not bad.

Venkat  1:16  

Well, um, so we're going to kick off this new series on College News fit to Digest, sort of a take-off on the New York Times’ All the news fit to print. So So what? I guess it's been a pretty busy news week as far as colleges go. And as you know, we curate the college news on our Coronavirus page on almamatters.io. And there are a few news items that I thought were pretty interesting, and wanted to sort of ask you about them, so that you could translate it for the students and especially international students. So that's it. Does that sound good?

Shveta  2:01  

Sounds good? I'm ready,

Venkat  2:06  

Cool. Cool. Well,

Venkat  2:08 

I think the first thing I sort of saw a lot of, lot of press about whether the schools are going to go online in fall or not. And I saw a some study or survey that said about 40% of the college presidents are considering online options. A couple of California colleges like CSU Fullerton, plans to go online UC San Diego seriously considering it, Boston University as well. And then there's some talking about hybrid, I guess, fewer online class offline classes or on campus classes and a lot more online. So a lot of things happening. So what, what should students take away from this and how, What is your sort of feel for this?

Shveta  3:02  

So, to be on the positive perspective for these students, because they're already going through a lot. Um, one thing they have to realize is, this is the universities having a plan in place. So when COVID-19 kind of fell on to the universities, they were really scrambling, they were not prepared. What they're trying to do is just be prepared, have a plan, and kind of have it ready to kick off if COVID-19 continues to be something that we have to deal with social, social distancing is still an issue. And the universities are trying to get creative. Some universities are doing like a split semester, where they have a couple of classes, and then online and then hoping that they can get back onto campus then the second half of the semester would be in person, things like that. Along with the, you know, going on full online options as, as you said, a lot of universities are going after. So at this point, students have to kind of make some decisions about what's going to work for them, what they're willing to compromise. And I want to remind students that even though this is not how they wanted to start their college experience, they're not alone. And they're all still get to, If your worst case scenario, the fall semester or fall quarter is online, you still have three plus years of experience to kind of meet new people, and especially for the incoming freshmen. And so I don't want them to feel like wow, this is a terrible situation. It's just not ideal.

Venkat  4:51  

Yeah, yeah.

Venkat 4:51  

I think that's the glass being half full kind of look at things. And I think I think that's a good that's a good way to look at it. Okay, so I think we'll continue to monitor and on our page, we're sort of creating a list of decisions being made by the colleges for at least a couple of hundred colleges that a lot of the international students end up going to. So, you know, I think that, you know, the given, I guess they have to make a decision is the colleges have to make the decision by July 1, so that, you know, they need a couple of months to get ready, whichever way so I'm guessing the latest would be somewhere around that.

Shveta  5:30  

well, well, I would, if I, if I'm in a particular international student, one of the things they have to consider is when their semester or quarter starts, if the school is on a quarter system, they have a little bit of a edge, they have extra time, so they may be able to push off that decision a little bit. But if they're starting in August, then mid to late August, then they have to kind of make those decisions pretty quickly. So I recommend, contacting the university, find out what their options are, and make some decisions based on that.

Venkat  6:08  

Okay. Sounds good.

Venkat  6:14 

Follow out from such a discussion, has been the gap year discussion. I mean, UPenn send out a note reminding students about the gap year. And then there's another report on CNBC about, you know, lots of students considering the gap year. I guess, I saw a number of 75% for some small group of people. So, these are, you know, people are beginning to think seriously or people as in students are beginning to think seriously about, about a gap year. And then so there are two parts to it. One is, you know, how smart or not smart is it to do that, and the second And one is, what do you do in a gap year when you can't really travel and you can’t do a whole bunch of things. So, So I guess you need to kind of have that figured out as well.

Shveta  7:10  

Definitely. And again, it goes back to having the discussion with the university, about gap years, a lot of universities, they offer gap year, but they have to, they may even have to approve the gap year for you. I know for international students that are coming to the US, especially ones that require a visa, they're going to offer the gap year because getting a visa has been becoming an issue. They are suspending some visa applications as we speak in the news right now. So it's really important for the students to find out and find out what the rules are for the gap year. A lot of universities don't allow students to take classes as a gap year student. It's going to be important to have a plan in place of what that looks like if you can do some, you know, online volunteering, social distancing, volunteering, working online, if you happen to have access to a job opportunity that allows you that, but the universities, for the most part, do require some kind of plan to approve for the gap year so it's ready. It's good for them to be ready and have something in place if this is what they're seriously considering.

Venkat  8:34  

Okay, but you definitely, I mean, you think that if there's no downside to taking a gap year right?

Shveta  8:40  

No, not at all. There's absolutely no downside. The the plus side is if they can do the gap hearing, have the approva,l have a plan in place, they may get back to a what I would consider normal situation then have their normal college experience. It just delays everything by a year and as long as the financial part is not an issue for the family, then there's no there's no downside.

Venkat  9:09  

Okay, that's that sounds good.

Venkat  9:16 

So the third and last item I wanted to get your take on is, So obviously a lot of the SAT, ACTs have been postponed or canceled, and now they're talking about an at home test. And I don't know, assuming or if schools don't come back and they cannot do physical tests, I suppose. There seem to be a number of issues that come with it, I guess they will, these at home tests are going to have a camera and microphone installed, so that they can proctor the students long distance or remotely. And then as you know, people are raising privacy concerns etc. So,

Venkat  10:00  

What's the deal with that? I mean, what are your thoughts?

Shveta  10:02  

Oh, for the students that are still basically current juniors, that are looking to try to get some SAT score for the universities that are still requiring it. I think, this doing the SAT or ACT at home is it's it's going to be challenging for the test groups to implement this. And it's they will have to wait and see, what I do recommend is definitely checking the websites of the test that you're planning on, to take whether it's SAT or ACT frequently, because they are adding dates and opening up registration for these tests sooner for the ones in the fall. I do know the SAT just added September 26 to their list, and if they decide to go online, it's it's going to be challenging, I think what will help dictate this a little bit, Is the AP exams going online? And how that kind of plays out for the SAT. Folks, and then they might make some decisions based on that. And that's just a guess I don't, I haven't read anything, but that would be my guess is they're going to see how this goes, because it's a much smaller population of students. And look at what worked, what didn't work, and what they can fix to make it work for SAT testing.

Venkat  11:36  

Yeah, I think I think one of the,

Venkat  11:38  

one of the side effects, or the unintended consequence here is that APs they've gone online, but they've restructured the test, in some sense, right? And similarly with SAT or ACT, either those go online or at home. If the tests get restructured, then all the prep work, you know, students who have prepared for their, you know, March and April tests would have to redo something or restructure their whole preparation, which might add a lot more to their, on their plate or put more things on their plate. So, you know, I, I agree with you, I think and that

Venkat  12:20  

was surprised to see the College Board CEO himself say that it was unlikely that this, you know, at home or online thing would happen. So, so I guess, better to grab that 26th, you know, September 26 date and seat and go from there.

Shveta  12:38  

Yeah, definitely. And I recommend the students to look up the universities, they're interesting interested in applying to, there's a list there's a website called fair test.org that has a growing list of universities that are doing test optional, though, I would definitely do that, check, I would always check with the university, to be sure there's more and more universities coming kind of around. And I think once June comes around the SAT's and ACT's are going to have to make some hard decisions about being able to offer this online or not. And if the universities will accept those online ones as well, because it would look different from, you know, years of data they've collected. So I would definitely revisit your [college] list, make sure you have a few that are test optional, and kind of make some decisions based on that.

Venkat  13:41  

Sounds good. This was great. Thank you for taking the time to sort of make sense of the news of the week. And have a great weekend and I'll talk to you soon.

Shveta  13:51  

Thank you. My pleasure.

Shveta  13:54  

You too, bye bye.

Venkat  14:03  

Hi again, hope you enjoyed our conversation, the first of the series, College News Fit to Digest. Based on the news items we discussed today, it seems prudent for students applying for the Fall 2021 semester to review their college list. We would be happy to review it for you. If you email it to podcasts at alma matters.io and we would send you our feedback based on the current events.

Venkat  14:38  

Hope you enjoyed this conversation, and hope you continue to listen to our podcasts. Till we meet again. Take care and be safe.

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