Episode Notes | Episode Transcript 

Episode Notes

Episode Title: College News Fit to Digest. September 11, 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:

  • Plight of International Students [1:10]
  • Why the mad rush to take the SATs? [5:56]

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.

Venkat  0:12 

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  1:00  

Shveta, Good morning!

Shveta  1:02  

Good morning. How are you, Venkat, today?

Venkat  1:05  

I'm doing well. How about you?

Shveta  1:07  

Not too bad? Not too bad.

Venkat  1:10  [Plight of International Students]


So, let's sort of dive right into it. I thought we could hit a couple of topics today.

The first one that really caught my attention was these a bunch of articles around how, you know, what I can broadly call it the plight of the international students.

As you know, a whole bunch of them, looks like they had, they stayed back or were forced to stay back in the US, they spent a lot of time on empty campuses, went through spring and summer. And now they are back.

Of course, in the middle, they had this whole visa thing that they went back and forth on and so now they are into fall, we are sort of 11 days into September, and we don't know what it's going to look like, things aren't looking great. So these guys have gone through a lot. And, what do you, what is your take on that?

Shveta  2:13  

Yeah, I the constant state of flux that these students are in is really, honestly heartbreaking. Because they just want to finish their degree, they want to stay on track.

And, between the federal government, kind of keeping things, you know, at best, you know, up in the air, nothing's, you know, solidified. And then universities kind of doing their best in trying to manage that for the international students, the ones that are still in the US or the ones that are stuck at home.

They're really... I give the college's credit and try to help the students to at least somehow stay connected to university in some manner, right and not feel isolated, if they're here, not feel isolated, because it's likely they don't have family here. Their friends that are in the US have probably all gone home, you know, so they're probably excited about the fall coming back. But then it looks completely different, you know, with online, and a lot of these hybrids not really working out the way the universities were hoping and things like that.

So there's just so many, you know, balls in the air, for international students, it's, it's a lot. It's a lot for them, my heart goes to them.

Venkat  3:40  

Yeah, it's, um, you know, it's in the saddest thing is that education has taken a backseat, right? There's just so many things on the front, on the front burner right now. That and, and sadly, that they don't have much control over. So. So yeah, it is, it is pretty bad.

Now, the some of the schools have done are trying to do, you know, a decent job of online classes for at least international students who are still in their home countries or haven't left. You know, by giving them asynchronous classes, you know, they have taped versions of those sessions and trying to accommodate them.

So I think I, you know, I think at this point, it's, it's not clear what is going to happen on campus and then of course, with the outbreaks rising, you know, it's probably back to square one, you know, like, mid spring, what they went through.

So, yeah, so it's not clear to me What, what exactly happens and and in a lot of these cases, they are unable to go back as well. I mean, it's not like they could just up and leave and so on. If they do they run the risk of not being able to come back.

And so, so yeah, they're between the devil and the deep sea, I think at this point. So, um, I guess I mean, I really don't know what, what advice or what, you know what, how to help these students think through this at all other than to just hang in there like the rest of the people, at least most folks, hopefully have some family or someone else that they're able to stay with.

Shveta  5:38  

Yeah, they just have to sit back kind of, unfortunately, go with the flow, some of these students are really going above and beyond to make it happen. And, again, it's, it's unfortunate that this is happening to them.

Venkat  5:56  [Why the mad rush to take the SATs?]

The second one, which [is a] consequence of our pandemic was all in a number of colleges going test optional. But it seems like that hasn't stopped students from making a desperate or mad rush to somehow take these SAT or ACT tests. And it looks like they're highly skeptical about the admissions process being objective without test scores. What's your sense?

Shveta  6:28  

Oh, well, this has been going on. You know, basically, since all the cancellations for SAT and ACT have been happening, though, there's families who will drive hours into another state.

I've even read stories where families are flying to the first of the one of the test centers that are still open in some other states to get a test in it. And it's, there's a bit of, you know, as you said, they're skeptical. They're, the parents are cynical, which I understand and maybe even... that way, where they just don't believe the test, optional issue, or stance. So they're thinking, how is that even possible?

And to their defense, we've been conditioned for so long that you need to take the test, then they're questioning how are you going to evaluate my child, if they don't get to take the test.

And then the student from the student perspective, a lot of these students prepare for the test, you know, some will do a lot of studying on their own, or if they're fortunate enough to get a tutor, that kind of thing, and with cancellations are kind of like I've invested this time and effort now they just want to be able to take one, or have the opportunity to improve a score that they maybe they have a score prior to March. And they didn't do that well, and they want that opportunity to improve it because they think it will increase their chances.

There's just so many, again, this is another issue with so many layers. And the students and families are just struggling and trying to, you know, navigate it all.

Venkat  8:15  

Yeah, see, another way of looking at it is that the whole application process is predicated on standing out right, on doing things, going way, above and beyond. And if, for some reason, this, taking these tests and getting those scores is a way of sort of standing out when you have a whole bunch of competing students.

So I think, I think that it's, you know, it's just sort of ingrained in the DNA of an applicant, I think. So that, So with the result that even though everyone's screaming, how we are test optional, don't you know, if you can't don't, if we cannot take the test, Don't do it, Don't have to worry. But I, you know, some of it might be just as a way of differentiating, and I think that, that, unfortunately, is maybe driving a lot of that, at least from the parents side, if not, even if not from the student side.

So. So what what is the, I mean, I know that California is going through this, you know, the judge ruled about a week or 10 days ago about this whole test blind thing, right? There were cases, at least there was some litigation going on. And so, but, but that is not going to happen in time for the 2021. Fall applications, right, or is it likely to have an impact?

Shveta  9:50  

No, So the UCs right now are taking a kind of a pause on their current stance on that. testing. So there's three campuses that had already prior to the ruling decided to go test optional, partially because they're doing the study of,. See, or I sorry, test blind to see how things were comparing to the success of the students that they admitted, or is versus without scores.

Um, so basically, the UCS have said, with the ruling in place, they need to kind of evaluate what their options are, and they claim they're gonna be making a decision soon.

I'm hoping, you know, by next week, they make a decision on whether they're just going to go test blind for all the campuses or have tried to fight the ruling. I'm not really sure, they're all over the map. And we're just, you know, taking it again, like the students are taking it one day at a time and have to just roll with it.

Venkat  11:00  

So much so much up in the air.

Um, well, you know, it's probably going to be that way for a while. So as we navigate through the fall, hopefully, spring and the new year brings better times for all of us.

So, on that note, let's close today's podcast. Thank you as always, take care and be safe.

Shveta  11:29  

Thank you. You too.

Venkat  11:31  

Yep. Bye. Bye.

Venkat  11:40

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, Purdue University, University of California Santa Barbara, California State University, SAT, ACT, Campus, International students, Alma Matters, Podcasts, Ivy League, Fall Reopening, COVID-19, Coronavirus.

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