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Episode Notes

Episode Title: College News Fit to Digest. November 9, 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:

  • SUNY 2021 Reopening Plan [2:05]
  • IELTS vs SAT/ACT [5:43]

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

Resources referred to in this episode:

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode Transcript.


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Shveta  0:05  [Snippet]

I do admit though, I was surprised that SAT and the ACT folks aren't actually more supportive, and trying to get those test centers open in terms of you know, saying okay, if we open additional rooms, different centers require masks we can, we may not be able to get all of them open, but get some of them open.

Venkat  0:38 

Hello, and welcome to yet another episode of College News Fit to Digest. Every week, we pick a few news items relating to US Colleges and discuss it with our own Shveta Bagade, College Counselor. Alma Matters curates the news daily relating to US Colleges, and makes it available on alma matters.io/coronavirus. We pick a few news items from that curated list, and discuss it every week here in these podcasts. Now, without further ado, on with the podcast!

Venkat  1:28  

Hey Shveta!

Shveta  1:30  

Hi Venkat! How are you?

Venkat  1:33

Very well. You?

Shveta  1:35

surviving post election.

Venkat  1:38  

Yeah, that's a syndrome, I assume. Yeah.

Cool. So a couple of things I think we can discuss today.

First, it looks like SUNY has come up with their plans for the spring semester of 2021. As a reopening plan, what did you think of that?

Shveta  2:05  [SUNY 2021 Reopening Plan]

Um, you know, I'm cautiously optimistic for SUNY and maybe other schools will follow on. I'm not familiar with the size of each of their campuses. But if they kind of set the tone, hopefully some of these other campuses will start to follow, and maybe implement similar or identical protocols in place.

And hopefully they can do it. I mean, a lot of these things that SUNY is doing is going to cost money, and they're prepared to do it.

Venkat 2:43  

Yeah, I mean, I think I think just the fact that they are sort of being bold about it, whereas quite a few, you know, colleges all over the country are planning to do online, at least for the next for the spring, semester or spring quarter.

So it is, it is a big change. And I guess it also speaks to the fact that New York has been in better control of the pandemic, as opposed to lots of other parts of the country. So that may, maybe part of part of the whole thing. So I'm not sure.

Shveta  3:24  

Yeah, I think that's part of it.

And I think the other piece of it is that that could help some of these other universities is that they make adjustments through the semester. So they may do, like a quarantine. like, for instance, there was a quarantine for the holiday for Halloween, partying, and things like that. But then starting to open up some in person lab classes, with testing for those students and that kind of thing.

So I think, you know, it's early November. I think, as January approaches, some of these universities will look at potential plans for different scenarios.

If COVID starts to really go down in their positive cases, or, you know, the vaccine or whatever happens in the next few months. Um, I think that will allow these universities to kind of implement the plan as necessary. It's interesting, though, that SUNY has put out like a full blown plan for the entire semester, which includes canceling spring break. Um, so I don't, it doesn't address that they may adjust the plans accordingly, but I'm sure they are prepared to do that.

Venkat  4:51  

Yeah, I think almost every school I think, I think that seems like a conventional wisdom kind of thing that they don't want to have that break. Because, you know, once people disband and come back, I mean, they bring, they take a lot of things with them, and they bring a lot of things back.

And so I think they want to avoid that uncertainty.

And by the way, I was just checking a SUNY had in 2019 for her undergraduate enrollment across their system was 372,000 students.

So they're, you know, like the UCs [University of California], I guess. Yeah. So in terms of numbers, so, so yeah, so I think it's a pretty big system. And I guess everyone will be watching to see how that shapes up.

Venkat  5:43  [IELTS vs SAT/ACT]

So, I think the next topic is an interesting one, this sort of one news item was about, you know, SATs and ACTs are still having some challenges around their test centers and test taking, whereas the IELTS seems to be reopening centers around the world for tests.

So it's just, I don't know, if it's a study in contrast, with certainly quite different, sort of situations there. I mean, what's your read on that?

Shveta  6:21  

Um, I thought that was interesting, too, I think a little bit of, you know, the, maybe the international community outside of the US is really looking to see things go in a positive direction. And so they are proceeding in that same direction as well, like opening their IELTS centers, where the SAT and ACT, it's a little bit different, because they are at the mercy of test centers based on the state. Sure, right. So or even narrowed down even more simply the county.

So if the county is not allowing, in person situations, then of course, in person testing is not going to happen. So if it person schooling is not happening, then that just falls in line with the in person testing as well.

I do admit, though, I was surprised that SAT in the ACT folks aren't actually more supportive and trying to get those test centers open in terms of, you know, saying, Okay, if we open additional rooms, different centers require masks we can, we may not be able to get all of them open, but get some of them open, and that avenue.

So those are the kinds of things we're anticipating to see as California residents, but it hasn't quite happened yet. So I'm hoping there's a trend to kind of see that go for the students.

Because unless they start to get rid of, you know, eliminate the need for SAT and ACT, the drive for now, the juniors, because the seniors are pretty much now at their done point.

They're still anticipating it to be an issue because the colleges haven't made, for the most part, haven't made that big announcement that we will continue test optional for another year.

There are a few exceptions. As you know, the University of California system has, excuse me, has gone test blind by a recent court mandate, rather than three years. But that's only one college system in the country.

So it should be interesting, what happens. My opinion is come January, we may start to see some official announcements come out for the following class year. So we'll see what happens. And I think it'll be a lot, a lot of it would based on the progress of the country in terms of covid cases and numbers, hopefully going down or staying steady, that kind of thing.

The easy solution, my opinion is just go test optional one more year. Right and the adjustments for the following year, but I'm not in charge. So there you go.

Venkat  9:36  

But, you know, I'm wondering if the fact that colleges are, you know, either test optional or test line, at least for the immediate future is a damping factor on this SAT ACT centers, because maybe the urgency and the imperative isn't, isn't there. And what is IELTS there is more of a need for that. In order to qualify, so maybe, the maybe the motivation isn't there, I mean, I'm just thinking out loud as to why these guys wouldn't be as creative, innovative or driven to get that to happen. So.

Unknown Speaker  10:15  

yeah, I think I think that's just the history of SAT, ACT. You know, they just, from my opinion, they do the absolute bare minimum.

For instance, when they had to do the home version testing for AP exams, the advance exams, that was quite messy, and apparently, there's a lawsuit against them about it as well. And it's been a lot of time and money on those things. And for it not to be handled in a better scenario is surprising.

And you know, this, even if you remove COVID, from the equation, SAT and the ACT folks really should have seen some of this demand to go online, really happen regardless of COVID.

Just because everything else is still available there think there's so much more available online, that they should have seen this coming and kind of already being prepared for it. And I think COVID just fast forward-ed for them. I think they were dragging their heels on it, and now they have to catch up. And they're just not there yet.

Venkat  11:33  

Yeah, I wouldn't, I would see, I mean, to just build on that I would have seen, I would have liked to have seen them take advantage of this situation and try to propagate this whole idea of online test, because it really frees them up from having to depend on schools and proctors and a whole bunch of things, and they can, and also the push internationally, you'd have more students who can take the test, potentially, than having to go to some center somewhere.

And, and, you know, the, you know, there's enough, enough stuff that I mean, colleges have done their courses, taken, you know, conducted exams. So it's not an it's not a quote unquote, new thing.

Yes, there are challenges, but I think I think they, instead of just, you know, throwing their hands up, they should have, I assume, I don't know if they're doing anything more, but they should really invest in that and make it work because I think they're actually everybody's in one thing that has happened is that when you talk to colleges, at least college professors and faculty, they do see a lot of potential for this virtual and remote learning, because they they think that certain things can be done really well. I mean, obviously, it doesn't sort of substitute, there's no substitute for labs and other kind of field work. But there is a lot that can be done that way.

And so it allows people to do more things, you know, they can reach students elsewhere, they could, you know, they could provide a certain level of education. And I would think that this test taking is sort of the least of the things. They can do that.

But anyway, that's my soapbox.

Venkat  13:19  

Cool. So um, I think, Well, I mean, you know, it's good to have these two sort of scenarios. Let's see how well IELTS does and hopefully that serves as a roadmap for a SAT and ACT as well. So.

So good, thank you, as always, I appreciate you taking the time on a Monday morning.

Shveta  13:47

Yeah, and my pleasure.

Venkat  13:48

Okay. Be safe be well, I'll talk to you soon.

Shveta  13:53  

Thank you. You too. Take care.

Venkat  13:55


Shveta  13:56


Venkat  14:03

Hi again, hope you enjoyed this conversation with Shveta Bagade on this week's College News Fit to Digest. Stay connected with us by Subscribing to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters].

These podcasts are brought to you by almamatters.io. Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you.

Summary Keywords

College, Universities, Test Optional, Test Blind, University of California, Deferment, Gap Year, Fall enrollment, College Application Calendar 2020, Common App, Common App Essay, Supplementals, FAFSA, Early Action, Alma Matters, Podcasts, Ivy League, Fall Reopening, COVID-19, Coronavirus.

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