Universities, the temples of higher education are taking the big hit from the Covid Pandemic. There is still uncertainty for many institutions with regard to when and how the intake session 2020-21 will happen.
Hong Kong’s major universities do not expect the delay in the release of the DSE results this year to affect admissions. Adjustments by HKU include application for September 2020 intake to remain open until end August 2020.
Internationally, MIT has cancelled information sessions and tours for prospective students and its on-campus admissions office is also closed indefinitely. In the UK, the University of Cambridge has already revealed that they won’t be holding in-person lectures until Summer 2021 and Manchester University has said that, this year, their Autumn term will be held online.
In view of this situation, many a student are in a fix as to the next steps. Depending on which university they have applied to or have been accepted to internationally or locally, different options stand before them. So, while some are lucky to be sticking to their plans others are taking a gap year and prefer waiting until next year to be able to attend lectures and get the full campus experience. There are also some are still waiting here from universities they have applied to, so they can take their decisions.
For example, Wins, a local Hong Konger living in Mid-levels plans to send his daughter Jasmine abroad for further studies. Jasmine wants to study Archaeology and has been accepted to the Leiden University in the Netherlands. At Leiden new sessions starting August will be solely online, until further notice. A disappointment for Jasmine as she was really wanting to leave home and pursue her studies in Amsterdam.
So whilst for the moment, Jasmine’s excitement remains high at being accepted at Leiden, so are her stress levels. Due to Coronavirus, for the foreseeable future, she will stay home and attend online classes.
Pic: Jasmine with Family
For another Uni-ready student from the UK, Natasha, the situation is a bit different. She had been planning to take a gap year for some time already so she’s is not really affected by the Coronavirus. She says, “I have already found a job in HK for the summer so I'm ok for now and my gap year plans are going well so far”. She is slightly stressed however because the University she wants to go to after her gap year and got accepted to is saying I cannot defer and will have to apply again. Her Mom, Falguni says "I'm calm and taking things as they come. Acknowledging my daughter's stresses as they come up and talking it through with her..."
Jingyu, another bright student residing in Sheung Wan, is all ready to join the UCL. Her mother, Sze is obviously very proud. Sze says: “UCL has just announced they will welcome students on campus in September while giving the online option to those who cannot make it there in time. Jingyu wants to start her first academic year without missing the action on campus. We are concerned with how Covid-19 is being managed in the UK but will trust UCL for due diligence work to ensure my daughter's safety.” Jingyu is very excited about living in the UK though there is a bit of natural stress as she is not sure what to expect with so much uncertainty.
Sports loving 17-year-old, Lachlan lives with his American mother, Andrea in Mid-levels. Lachlan plans to go to Seattle university have been put in turmoil. He was supposed to report there in September but with the present state of Coronavirus in the US, Andrea is unsure about sending him there. Thankfully, they have a plan B in HKU, where he has also applied. For coping with stress linked to this uncertainty, Lachlan is researching how he can spend free time this summer and regularly goes to the gym. While being a pillar of strength for her son, mom Andrea is also a bit unsettled with the ambiguity linked to her son’s future. Thankfully Netflix and food are her go to stress busters!!
Pic: Andrea n Lachlan
Going to university is an important decision in the life of any student. There is uncertainty sure but as the Persian saying goes: “This too shall pass!!”
Whether one takes a gap year to learn a skill or makes it to Harvard or HKU or Manchester University, what will prime and dictate the future is the resilience of students and families. How we cope with regard to the situation, what we learn from it and the decisions we make today is critical. This pandemic will also pass and things will get normal eventually, but so will this unique opportunity to steepen the learning curve of our younger lot. Lessons not related to studies which is about learning to deal with the ups and downs and the uncertainties that LIFE brings all of us!