The effect of COVID-19 on graduate studies
There is never a convenient time for a global pandemic. For undergraduate students at Ryerson who were planning on heading to graduate school in the fall, COVID-19 is especially inconvenient, as graduate schools have been affected by changes caused by the virus.
Not only have graduating students had to make changes to complete their degrees, but graduate schools have also had to make compromises in order to process the applications of incoming students.
Andy Lee, communications officer at the Yeates School of Graduate Studies, commented on how Ryerson University is handling the setback brought on by the spread of COVID-19.
“Applications [for graduate programs] are still being accepted, and the delay of convocation ceremonies will have no impact on the admissions of students, so as long as they have met their degree requirements,” said Lee.
According to Lee, the Yeates School has moved all of its services online and continues to support both current and prospective graduate students through modified methods.
“Some deadlines have been extended to help students, including the drop date for graduate courses, which has been extended to the last day of classes,” said Lee. ”The final date to clear outstanding graduation requirements [will also be] extended by two weeks.”
Lee added the Yeates School has adopted measures to maintain graduate student funding during this time.
Despite many of these efforts to help students juggle their final weeks of school amidst the pandemic, including classes transitioning online, cancelling exams and postponing convocation, many fourth-year students still have concerns about the next phase of their future academic careers.
“I’ve been accepted to law school at the University of Victoria,” said Lian Kubisz, a fourth-year commerce student. “They’ve asked me to provide my convocation transcript [upon graduation] but since convocation has been postponed to the fall, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get that.”
Some students are completely changing their plans, and contemplating graduate school, as a result of COVID-19.
“I’ve been considering grad school more seriously because the job market is going to be so terrible after this,” said Kaitlyn Wilson, a fourth-year fashion design student. “I was on the fence about it before, but I’m seriously considering the option now since I don’t know how easy it will be to get a job [in my field] after all of this is over.”
Before the threat of the virus became apparent in Canada, the national unemployment rate was close to reaching a record low, at 5.6 per cent. Fast forward a few weeks, and COVID-19 has caused nearly every industry to lay off workers or cut their employees’ hours. In the month of March alone, Canada has lost more than one million jobs. During this time students have also seen their internships cancelled, summer jobs put on hold and job listings disappear.
As a result of the unwavering ambiguity, students and universities alike are doing what they can to prepare themselves for success when the pandemic comes to an end.
“I’m going to apply [for grad school] and see what happens,” said Wilson. “With so much being uncertain, I want to keep my options open, not closed.”