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Pressures from the pandemic add to university application woes

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With the university application deadline looming, it’s always a tough time for 12th graders – but this year even more so as the ongoing pandemic disruption leaves them feeling overwhelmed, confused and ill-prepared.

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COVID-19 has hampered opportunities for learning and enrichment over the past 20 months, and the repercussions could threaten access to higher education and career prospects as well.

According to a new GrantMe study, 84% of 1,000 participants in grades 11 and 12 reported that distance learning affected study habits, focus, and confidence in their ability to handle a college workload. As a result, more than half of respondents report that the pandemic has affected their college plans, academic career path, or university choice.

Madison Jay
Madison Jay image provided /Madison Jay

Of those, 72% say they may have to settle at a lower-rated university because their grades have struggled during the pandemic, “which may end up affecting the quality of opportunities they access early in their career,” says Madison Gay. , founder of Vancouver-based GrantMe, a technology company that guides students on their educational journey, including helping them take advantage of Canadian scholarships and grants, many of which are unclaimed.

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Charlotte Lindsey Marron
Charlotte Lindsey Marron image provided /Charlotte Lindsey Marron

For Charlotte Lindsey Marron, tags aren’t a concern, but there are fewer extracurricular activities in the apps that you are. The high achievement in attending the prestigious Shad Canada program in the summer of 2020 lost due to COVID-19 – it is a privileged place in the applications.

“As a very ambitious student, I had high expectations of what I would achieve by the end of high school and feel isolated like a lost time,” says the 12th grader in Toronto. Distance learning alienated her from teachers and peers, and lacked opportunities for personal development, exams and oral presentations.

“I got so used to my home life that I forgot how to handle daily stress and responsibilities just as much as I used to,” says Maron, 17.

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She admits that she struggles to find a foothold in traditional high school, let alone transfer to university, but is excited about her future. Isolation has given her time to prepare for the application process and to rethink a career in law – she has now set her sights on attending UBC Sauder School of Business and “embracing my dream of studying business and being an entrepreneur.”

According to Guy, who put Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2020, an increasing number of students are seeking guidance and help with their applications, particularly the written component that is often weighted equally with grades. “Universities are really looking for strong student leadership experience, and are concerned with how students differentiate themselves in their applications.”

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With leadership opportunities limited, students worry about the level of their applications, what’s more, 37% of students said their overall GPA has gone down, universities are expected to take into account unforeseen events in order to support students, but they are also looking for students who have been able to Turn the experience into a positive one and use the limited resources available to make an impact, she adds.

According to GrantMe research, uncertainty about post-secondary education extends to finances as well, with 77% of students revealing that their confidence in being able to pay for their college education has been dented by the pandemic.

Statistics revealed that 41% said they would attend university locally or part-time because their families faced financial challenges during the pandemic. And half of those who wanted to live on campus now prefer to stay at home, so they will only apply to local universities.

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“Being raised by a single mother, I have to fund my university studies myself,” Maroun adds. “Currently, I am dependent on scholarships and my own savings from working as an actress, but I wish I had the opportunity to spend the past two years in part-time jobs as well.”

About half of the students asked said they were concerned about their ability to pay off student debt, says Jay, who is showing a growing interest in getting scholarships and grants. Jay herself went through an exhausting and often frustrating process of finding and applying for grants and scholarships to pay her way through UBC while playing college football.

That’s why I launched the Online Scholarship Center in 2018 after graduation – to help other students find funding. “The average student graduates with over $26,000 in debt, so any amount you earn in scholarships will help reduce that!” By her graduation, Jay had received $50,000 and graduated without debt.

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There are hundreds of millions of scholarship dollars offered in Canada annually and over $10 million unclaimed each year, and most of these overseas scholarships are created by nonprofit organizations, credit unions, corporations, charities, and youth organizations. “We recommend our students to seek out these smaller scholarships because they have a higher chance of winning.”

Jay advises starting college career planning as early as 10th grade so you don’t get overwhelmed and overwhelmed in 12th — “and as a byproduct, don’t apply for funding opportunities, or they won’t be able to create a prominent college application. This can affect your ability on enrolling in a first-choice program and the scholarship opportunities that come with that.”

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So what are the careers to pursue in a post-COVID world?

“There will be a lot of jobs in the technology sector,” says Jay. “We have seen a huge boom in online learning during COVID and technology has advanced five years in just one year due to COVID. This is definitely an opportunity for students.”

Technology graduates can work in marketing, product design, engineering, customer service, talent acquisition, operations, and more. “Every company continues to rely more on technology and there are opportunities in nearly every category that students can take advantage of.”

On the other hand, it adds that tourism, education and any job that includes travel has been greatly affected by the pandemic.

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