The decision to study abroad is quite life changing and making the decision while the world finds itself in a global health crisis does not make it any easier. Caroline works for the non-profit Project Access, who through their peer-to-peer network and knowledge base helps students from all over the world apply to the world’s best universities. She gives an insight in to the challenges that the global pandemic has for the fight for equal access to top universities abroad.
As an organisation trying to make the application process to the world’s best universities more manageable, the pandemic has not helped our work. Still three months after the world went in lockdown, there are no specific guidelines from universities, travel restrictions are ambiguous, and while a country like Denmark are opening pubs, gyms and borders, a popular student destination like the United States, is still facing over 2 million confirmed cases. It is difficult to share clear guidelines and information is extremely sensitive. Students are hesitant – is it even worth going abroad if you have to compromise lectures, seminars and the social life at university? Many prospective students are reconsidering their application, as well as their university offers. What can be done in a situation like this?
Project Access is a remote organisation and we are lucky that not much has changed. We have had to replace in-person outreach events with online alternatives and try to regularly update our social accounts with the latest updates from our target universities. Similarly, we have moved all our mentor trainings online and done our best to support each and every mentorship. In short, we are committed to keep working on inspiring passionate students to apply to top universities and likewise to keep finding amazing mentors for those students. Being a student-led organisation, our team members find themselves with the same frustrations as many prospective students and this essentially helps us guide everyone in the right direction. Community has been an essential element in all of this and through our new Program and upcoming Bootcamps in countries like Denmark and Finland, we hope to remove the feeling of confusion and loneliness for each applicant.
Some of our mentees have decided to apply to one of their home universities. Some have received an offer to postpone their commencement of study to 2021. Some are taking the leap and choosing to go abroad regardless of the current situation. So, what is the right thing to do? There is no right or wrong in deciding your future path. Learn about your opportunities, the current state of affairs in your preferred university city and talk to your parents, friends, and, most importantly, other people with the same dream as you. Be critical to the different news sources and contact your dream university if needed. Universities around the world are finally starting to give an idea of what the next academic year is going to look like. Many universities in the United Kingdom offer a half-and-half solution, with lectures being online and seminars being on-campus. Freshers week is planned outside of university and student accommodations are doing their best to follow the newest guidelines. There are some amazing opportunities in the Nordic countries that can help you out, whether it is going to the virtual 2020 NSAC Conference or signing up for free to the Project Access Program. We are here to help you clarify your future – also during a global health crisis.
Written by Caroline Sofie Skytte Kamper