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5 Concrete Ways Universities Can Alleviate Student Frustration in the Midst of the COVID-19 Crisis

As the COVID-19 pandemic deepens and additional restrictions are put on place around the world, the impact on education is becoming more and more visible. Universities around the world are struggling to keep up with the logistical, operational, and reputational challenges unraveling with remote education.

One of the biggest challenges faced by colleges today is the growing sense of frustration of students regarding campus closure. Hundreds of thousands of students paid billions of dollars in full-tuition expecting to live the “on-campus experience” that these universities are famous for. Additionally, expecting in-person interactions, seminars, exchange programs and most importantly networking events and job fairs. Many students are even requesting full tuition refunds. As well as, incoming students, are threatening to rescind their acceptance offers if the university campuses remain close.

It is critically important that universities carefully manage this feeling of frustration, and support students impacted by the crisis. Since the way, they handle the crisis will define their reputation for many years to come.

Below are a few actionable recommendations, we advise universities to consider with the goal of improving their student’s well-being in these difficult times.

1. Offer Partial Refunds on Tuition Fees 

For periods during which the campuses were closed, universities should consider offering partial tuition refunds. This would alleviate the feeling of frustration current students are facing after being deprived of the full on-campus experience.

Universities should review their current cost structure and drastically reduce and eliminate any unnecessary operating costs with utmost diligence. Namely, cutting down costs and redirecting any budgets that were destined to in-person interactions/activities (conferences, supplies, transportation, utilities, and so on). Universities with endowment funds should also consider funneling a part of their funds into funding these partial refunds.

Not only students will appreciate this method, but the university will also earn a stellar reputation among prospective applicants. The university will be seen as an institution that invests in ensuring quality of outcomes and experience for its graduates.

2. Offer steep discounts on certifications/trainings

Universities that offer short degrees and certifications should also consider offering steep discounts and even complimentary seats for students that are currently enrolled in one of their programs. 

During this confinement, many students have a lot of time that they are keen to invest in upskilling themselves to become more employable after the crisis. Many universities today are already offering certification courses through the MOOC platform. In this case, providing students access to these resources additionally to personalized coaching/learning plans will play a significant role in improving the student’s experience. For example, including a negotiation certification program as part of a Masters in International Relations, or bundling an advanced Spanish course with a Masters in Economic Development.

Doing this, universities will support their students by increasing their chances of employability post-crisis. Furthermore, it would increase the popularity of the university’s lifelong learning programs and disrupt their own model of education.

3. Provide significant emotional support

Aside from financial support, students – especially international ones – may be struggling emotionally. These difficult times require a complete change of mindset and behavior, and not everyone can easily adapt. Imagine yourselves in the shoes of a new coming student right now – you have scored your dream school. You’re excited to begin your journey in a new country, but instead, you have to stay home and adapt. This is the time to expand the university’s psychological students’ support and do everything in their power to make them feel cared for. 

They should also tap into the student’s networks, (student reps, TAs, community leaders) to ensure everyone has their eyes and ears open. In order to quickly identify struggling students and bring them to the attention of the appropriate parties.

4. Call on their alumni network to help current students

Universities should also tap into their alumni network to provide support in these difficult times. Beyond financial support, alumni should invest their time and connections in mentoring current batches of students.

By structuring cross-generational coaching and mentorship programs, universities can scale their resources through an infinite pool of alums. Alumni will have a concrete way to give back to their alma-maters, by investing time in coaching them, helping them find internships/jobs, or listening to their concerns and reassuring them. In addition, ensure that these students are being nurtured and cared for.

5. Offer income-based deferred tuition plans

Many current and prospective students are currently concerned about the scarcity of financial resources. With the unavailability of on-campus jobs, as well as lenders refraining from giving out loans during these uncertain times, students are getting desperate about funding their education.

Universities need to step in and provide alternatives for their students. One of the most equitable and novel ways of doing this is to offer deferred tuition plans, either for the full tuition or for a portion of the tuition. These deferral options could either have minimal or preferably 0% interest rate and should target struggling students. They can also be extended to incoming students, and can
be used as a selling point in attracting the best and brightest talents to the university.

We also believe that universities should go even further and boldly tie this financing to the educational outcomes. Pinning Income Share Agreements is a novel financing mechanism where students only pay back once they start earning.

At Edbridg, we help universities and training institutions put together deferred tuition plans through Income Share Agreements. We design, operate, maintain deferred tuition plans, end to end, and help universities through each step of the way. 

We are extending our support in these difficult times to all the educational institutions looking to explore this as a viable and equitable way of attracting talented students.

Feel free to contact us at contact@edbridg.com if you have any questions.

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Part 4: Applying for schools

Once you have established the specific program you want to pursue, comes the important step of choosing which university to apply to. This admission to universities in the UK

depends greatly on:

• Your academic profile

• Your application package (essays, resume and recommendation letters)

• Your test scores

• Your financials

Your list should include at least 3-4 universities. Base your choices on the factors you deem important

Tips: 

Know what you are optimizing for whether it is brand, geographical location, post program career path, and prioritize accordingly

Apply early as first cycle batches typically have the biggest intakes 

Request informational interviews with admission staffs and current students

Always include a safe choice university, one where you are certain to obtain an admission

Finding the best school for you within a limited budget might be very challenging.

Choose the school of your dream and leave the financing part on us For more info visit  www.edbridg.com

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Part 3: Collecting recommendation letters

Admission in the United Kingdom relies heavily on the quality of your recommendation letters. Your recommenders should be people who know you well enough to write a highly personalized letter for you. You would typically be requested to submit 3 recommendation letters per program. The generic ones (Student X is serious, vigorous and all positive words in the English dictionary) will most likely do you more harm than good.

You also should ask your recommender to supplement his praise with specific examples and

instances where you demonstrated these qualities

Tips:

Choose your recommenders carefully. They need to be able to speak about you inside and outside the workplace

• Pick people who know you well

• Pick people who have seen you over time

• Pick people who think you’re REALLY great (exaggeration helps

Approach your recommenders early on and get their approval

• Make sure your recommenders are on-board to write the letter 3-

4 months before the deadline

• Reach out to your recommenders ~1 month before deadline

Select recommenders who have a high success rate

For more info visit www.edbridg.com

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Part 2: Crafting Admission Essays

Graduate schools in the United Kingdom will typically request you to submit at least two essays: a Personal Statement and a Statement of Purpose (or Research Statement). Some

schools will request you to submit additional essays as well.

• The personal statement describe how your life experiences prepared you for that specific graduate school program. If you think about it as a timeline, it should focus on your past and your present

• The statement of purpose is your projections of what you will do during your graduate program, and how that is going to impact your career and life. It should focus on your present and future. These essays are your opportunity to tell your story to the

admission committee

Tips:

  • Retrospect to understand who you are, and what life events best convey that and tell your story on why you should be granted that admission.
  • Avoid looking at essay templates as much as possible, it is the number one enemy to crafting authentic and original essays.
  • Have your essays reviewed by friends and mentors you trust, especially ones that attended your dream schools. 
  • Follow the limits (if imposed) by attempting to be +/- 10% off the
  • required word limit.

Edbridg is here to help you fund your education at some of the world’s top international schools.

For more info visit www.edbridg.com

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Part 1: Preparing and taking exams

Access to graduate school depends greatly on how well you do on standardized tests, mainly the GMAT or GRE.

Both tests consist of 3 sections:

  1. Verbal section: tests your logical verbal reasoning
  2. Quantitative section: tests the sharpness of your analytical skills
  3. Writing/Essays: tests your capacity to think and write critically about a given topic

While GMAT focuses more on your business-related topics and tends to be more quant-heavy, GRE, on the other hand, covers a variety of topics (from arts to biology) and tends to be more verbal-heavy. 

Both tests are valid for 5 years

Tips:

  1. Start early: preparing for these exams can be tricky, especially for applicants from non-American universities. Start as early as possible and dedicate at least 1-2 months to study.
  2. Learn how to beat the test: getting high scores is also about having a clear strategy.
  3. Practice on full tests: as the exam date gets closer, make sure you take at least two full practice tests in similar conditions to those of the test center.

Resources:

  • GMAT website: interactive video lessons, webinars, and practice full tests. 
  • Manhattan series: for verbal/quant review resources (the application is free to install with 2 practice tests, additional tests may be purchased at 50 USD per 2 tests). 
  • GMAT Club: is a community to exchange information, experiences, and resources.
  • Magoosh.com: online test preparation for on-the-go practice.
  • Veritas Prep Videos: contain useful strategy tips (interactive platform)

Whether you’re busy studying for your GMAT or waiting on your admits, there’s something else you should be doing too. Now is the best time to start putting your b-school budget into order. You’ll need it to apply for a loan and to secure your international study visa. Feel at ease, Edbridg is here to help.

For more info visit www.edbridg.com