How a higher education institution treats its students, faculty and staff during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic says a lot about what you can expect if you choose to attend that school. If you’re in the process of choosing a school, keep this in mind and ask these three questions of admissions offices to gain the insights you need to make the right decision for you.
1. What kind of mental health resources do you offer?
The Coronavirus has devastated millions mentally, emotionally and financially. You’ll want to make sure your future school has more than adequate mental health resources that are available for all students. Grad school can already be hard on your mental health, but after a pandemic, staying emotionally healthy should be of the utmost importance to institutions. In addition to asking about the services provided, you should ask about their health insurance policies to be sure that insurance problems won’t stand in the way of getting the appropriate care you need.
2. How will fall classes be conducted and what steps have you taken to ensure optimal learning?
Another important question to ask your future schools is whether or not your courses will remain online and, if so, if there has been any additional training or academic support available to make sure you’re receiving the best educational experience possible. Adapting courses to be conducted online has resulted in a learning curve for many schools and students. However, by the time the fall semester rolls around, institutions should have had plenty of time to figure out how to make sure courses, whether online or in-person, are constructed in a way that every student from any background has the right resources needed to do well in the course.
3. How has the pandemic affected you financially?
Finally, one of the most important questions you want to ask your schools of interest is how they’re managing themselves financially as a result of the Coronavirus. With refunds having to be issued and a sharp decrease of international students applying to grad school programs in the fall, many institutions are losing admissions revenue. As a student, that could mean budget cuts and limited resources towards your courses. You’ll want to see if this will also lead to an increase in your tuition costs. You should also ask if they’re offering additional financial aid or scholarship opportunities to help grad students who have been financially affected by the Coronavirus.
Again, how a grad school, or any higher education institution for that matter, treats students and the people who work for them during a time of tragedy is a strong indicator of how much they care about your education experience and you as an individual. Make sure you pick a school that will look out for you and the community you live in, because at the end of the day, your degree isn’t what helps you through difficult times — it’s the people you choose to surround yourself with.