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Hi guys, 

Not sure if you have received instructions from schools about the 2020 Fall plan. 

If school announces remote learning, will you choose to take it or defer for a year? I am anxiously waiting for my school to announce it while in the middle of choices again. 

 

Appreciate all of your kind suggestions and sharing!

 

Wish everyone stay healthy and safe. 

 

Best,

 

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My school has offered us the choice of in person or online for the next year, with everything (including orientation) being offered in both formats. If my choice was online or deferred admission, I'd definitely take the online option. It's unfortunate if online is the only option in lieu of on campus, but at least you'll make progress towards your degree; if you defer for a year in particular, you are losing an entire year. Your cohort will move on without you and they will be a year ahead of you when you do start, and additionally, there are no guarantees about what the format will be in a year anyway. If these are definitely your only choices, recommend you go with remote learning. 

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17 hours ago, Paulcg87 said:

My school has offered us the choice of in person or online for the next year, with everything (including orientation) being offered in both formats. If my choice was online or deferred admission, I'd definitely take the online option. It's unfortunate if online is the only option in lieu of on campus, but at least you'll make progress towards your degree; if you defer for a year in particular, you are losing an entire year. Your cohort will move on without you and they will be a year ahead of you when you do start, and additionally, there are no guarantees about what the format will be in a year anyway. If these are definitely your only choices, recommend you go with remote learning. 

Hi! Really appreciate your reply! Thanks a lot! I remember you are going to a Canadian school right?  May I know what does it mean offering in both format? Does it mean some of students who choose in person will be on site while they will set up a camera for the rest? 

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My school has decided that the majority of classes will be online, with some labs or tutorials being in-person for the Fall. They have not said anything definitively for the Winter semester yet, but are currently approaching it the same way. As soon as it is safe to do more in-person, then they will change their plans for Winter. 

I am planning to do it, because there aren't any other better options for me personally, in light of everything. I don't want to put myself further behind, without having a concrete plan in place. At least for my school, deferments are typically not allowed and can only be granted in particular circumstances by getting permission from the Dean, and in some cases your spot may not be guaranteed. 

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On 6/12/2020 at 2:53 AM, Paulcg87 said:

My school has offered us the choice of in person or online for the next year, with everything (including orientation) being offered in both formats. If my choice was online or deferred admission, I'd definitely take the online option. It's unfortunate if online is the only option in lieu of on campus, but at least you'll make progress towards your degree; if you defer for a year in particular, you are losing an entire year. Your cohort will move on without you and they will be a year ahead of you when you do start, and additionally, there are no guarantees about what the format will be in a year anyway. If these are definitely your only choices, recommend you go with remote learning. 

Another thing to remember is that usually, if you defer your admission, you also forfeit your current funding package. That means your package will be re-evaluated the subsequent year, when—let’s face it—schools are likely to have a far more competitive pool, and far fewer dollars to throw around. Even if you’re still guaranteed a spot, you may not be guaranteed the money you are now. 

 

My guess is that even for those schools that will be online for fall quarter, there will still be active near-campus community within your cohort/department, and classes will likely resume in-person within the next year. And think about all that you can do to get acquainted with the area in the time you’ll spend *not* commuting to class, or between classes. You could ‘attend’ seminars wherever, build a stronger relationship with your classmates and professors by virtue of being one of a likely smaller cohort of students, and maybe use the free time to do a bit of side-hustling, working out, volunteering, or gig economy work [depending on how much free time you have]. 

 

This from someone who never thought we should be under house arrest to begin with [but advocates for personal responsibility/human decency measures like choosing to wear a mask], and wants very much for classes to be held in-person this fall: If it were me, I wouldn’t think for a second about deferring, no matter what. This is a rad opportunity. 

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On 6/11/2020 at 11:53 PM, Paulcg87 said:

My school has offered us the choice of in person or online for the next year, with everything (including orientation) being offered in both formats. If my choice was online or deferred admission, I'd definitely take the online option. It's unfortunate if online is the only option in lieu of on campus, but at least you'll make progress towards your degree; if you defer for a year in particular, you are losing an entire year. Your cohort will move on without you and they will be a year ahead of you when you do start, and additionally, there are no guarantees about what the format will be in a year anyway. If these are definitely your only choices, recommend you go with remote learning. 

I don't really understand some of the underlying logic of this post.

You are 'losing an entire year.' Well, what exactly do you mean by this? It's not 'lost,' you are simply postponing the start/end date. More importantly, doctoral degrees are not to be 'rushed' or tried to be completed as fast as possible; the academic job market is too competitive for that to be any strategy.

"Your cohort will move on without you." So what? What difference does it make? Next year's cohort will be your cohort. There's really nothing inherently special about any given 'cohort.'

We should strip out all the noise. The question should be this: do you think having online instruction, as well as rather limited access to professors, and workshops/seminar series/outside speakers/ect, is highly detrimental to your development? If the answer is yes, and it's not difficult for you to defer, then I think it's a rather simple decision.

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On 6/12/2020 at 5:41 PM, needanoffersobad said:

Hi! Really appreciate your reply! Thanks a lot! I remember you are going to a Canadian school right?  May I know what does it mean offering in both format? Does it mean some of students who choose in person will be on site while they will set up a camera for the rest? 

@needanoffersobad Yep, University of Toronto :)  And yes, that's pretty much exactly it. My department is going to conduct every class both in-person and live/synchronous at the same time using live video via zoom. Undergrad and grad students have been given the option of attending in-person or online at their own discretion. So, if you want to attend in person, you can (as long as the class size is relatively small; the 50+ person undergrad classes will only have the online option) and if you don't want to be in Toronto right now or attend in person, you can attend purely as an online student. For grad students, given none of our classes are very large, all will be offered with both options. @Artifex_Archer makes some great points. This is an awesome opportunity and probably the only time (short of another crazy, once in a century unforeseen event) where many schools will be giving students these options. My advice remains, do not defer!

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I'm really confused at how anyone could make the claim that having to take online courses and virtually no scholarly community is seen as a positive opportunity? 

We are talking about your graduate training here. The thing that, indirectly, will help you become an independent scholar, publish, and hopefully get a TT job. Make no mistake, online learning is clearly inferior and this is especially true in a seminar setting. Not having the same access to professors, seminars, workshops, other academic activities, on-campus resources, ect, is another clearly inferior situation. 

Once again, the question should be whether this is a big deal to you, and what the associated costs (if any) there are for deferring.

But to claim that this is an ''opportunity" is almost laughable. 

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11 hours ago, polsciguy88 said:

I'm really confused at how anyone could make the claim that having to take online courses and virtually no scholarly community is seen as a positive opportunity? 

We are talking about your graduate training here. The thing that, indirectly, will help you become an independent scholar, publish, and hopefully get a TT job. Make no mistake, online learning is clearly inferior and this is especially true in a seminar setting. Not having the same access to professors, seminars, workshops, other academic activities, on-campus resources, ect, is another clearly inferior situation. 

Once again, the question should be whether this is a big deal to you, and what the associated costs (if any) there are for deferring.

But to claim that this is an ''opportunity" is almost laughable. 

Hey now. That’s not the positive opportunity. You’re absolutely right—a lack of scholarly community and in-person training is not, itself, an opportunity. And frankly, it sucks. The ‘this’ I was referring to is graduate education itself, which is likely to resume in-person ASAP [not least because so much university revenue comes from the intercollegiate athletics industry].

AND, even so, there are other opportunities that present themselves as a result of the necessity to become more digitally adept, as well as the flexibility of location/schedule/learning environment for the first quarter or semester. 
 

Finally, just because some schools won’t be offering in-person classes in the fall [or as many of them] doesn’t mean there won’t be in-person gatherings, period. You can still convene for research groups. You can still meet with professors.
 

“Once again, the question should be whether this is a big deal to you, and what the associated costs (if any) there are for deferring.” —Totally agree here.

 

Believe me, I am the last person to be excited about this and I think it’s pretty absurd to cancel in-person classes. But opportunity is, after all, created rather than given. Which means it’s something we have a choice over. 
 

 

Edited by Artifex_Archer
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@needanoffersobad just wanted to elaborate on a few things I mentioned earlier. Each school and academic department in North America has to make its own choices with regards to how it will offer courses during the 2020-2021 school year. Some will not offer classes at all in-person. Some, like my school, will offer online and in-person. Some will go with the majority in-person as if nothing has changed. I'm lucky that I have a choice; I think your perspective will vary depending on how much flexibility your school gives you. For those who have to go back to campus when they don't particularly want to during a pandemic, their attitudes might not be great, and similarly, those who only have the online option might not be thrilled. Totally understandable either way, but for those users who are trying to be provocative in their comments on here, I'd remind them that everything is relative, including perspective. The world does not revolve around any of us, or our opinions. For those of us in particular who might be older, who might have weakened immune systems or something like diabetes or a congenital heart condition, the prospect of being on a large campus right now in a world without a vaccine is terrifying and the opportunity to not miss out on a year of education during a pandemic is absolutely, positively awesome. 

With that said, if your entire future career is predicated on having every single year of your PhD studies in-person, or if you feel your ability to benefit from online courses is so severely diminished because they are online, then maybe deferring a year until you can hopefully attend everything in person is the best bet for you.

My perspective is different from some, and I do not intend for this to sound condescending or arrogant, just manifestly different. I already have a T10 master's degree from a quant intensive program and half a dozen years of quant research/work experience in this field, including several years at a big 4 consulting firm and a few more in government. I'm also already published in this field. I personally do not need the on-campus/in-person experience as badly as some might. I don't have pre-existing health issues, but I'm already statistically at higher risk simply because I'm older. For me, the opportunity to live anywhere I want during a pandemic and take my first year online if I want to is indeed an awesome opportunity because this offers me an unprecedented amount of flexibility, and if I so choose, I can still take everything or whatever I want in person. The majority of my PhD will still be in-person, from a great school, in a field I love. I am grateful simply to be in this position. For others who are straight out of undergrad or who are younger with no professional/research experience and who will be attending an institution that will be going exclusively online this next year, I can see how online-only classes could be deflating, disappointing and inadequate. In that case, I guess it comes down to whether the benefits you'll receive by waiting a year for in-person courses (if you defer) outweighs the year that you will miss out on while the remaining members of your original cohort move on while you do other things for the next year. Either way, good luck and I wish you the best with your decision and the next year. 

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On 6/13/2020 at 10:48 PM, Artifex_Archer said:

Another thing to remember is that usually, if you defer your admission, you also forfeit your current funding package. That means your package will be re-evaluated the subsequent year, when—let’s face it—schools are likely to have a far more competitive pool, and far fewer dollars to throw around. Even if you’re still guaranteed a spot, you may not be guaranteed the money you are now. 

 

My guess is that even for those schools that will be online for fall quarter, there will still be active near-campus community within your cohort/department, and classes will likely resume in-person within the next year. And think about all that you can do to get acquainted with the area in the time you’ll spend *not* commuting to class, or between classes. You could ‘attend’ seminars wherever, build a stronger relationship with your classmates and professors by virtue of being one of a likely smaller cohort of students, and maybe use the free time to do a bit of side-hustling, working out, volunteering, or gig economy work [depending on how much free time you have]. 

 

This from someone who never thought we should be under house arrest to begin with [but advocates for personal responsibility/human decency measures like choosing to wear a mask], and wants very much for classes to be held in-person this fall: If it were me, I wouldn’t think for a second about deferring, no matter what. This is a rad opportunity. 

Thank you very much! I appreciate that you suggest thinking about how much time I can save to do something else. online things suck but I am really happy to see more scholars are still utilising online opportunities to arrange presentations and other things. Thats a great inspiration! 

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22 hours ago, polsciguy88 said:

I'm really confused at how anyone could make the claim that having to take online courses and virtually no scholarly community is seen as a positive opportunity? 

We are talking about your graduate training here. The thing that, indirectly, will help you become an independent scholar, publish, and hopefully get a TT job. Make no mistake, online learning is clearly inferior and this is especially true in a seminar setting. Not having the same access to professors, seminars, workshops, other academic activities, on-campus resources, ect, is another clearly inferior situation. 

Once again, the question should be whether this is a big deal to you, and what the associated costs (if any) there are for deferring.

But to claim that this is an ''opportunity" is almost laughable. 

I agree with you the decision should be made between the cost of deferring and the cost of doing (one semester at least) online. thanks for pointing it out! 

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@Paulcg87       I dont know how to further extend my gratitude. I would say this is a must read for everyone. Thank you!

"being on a large campus right now in a world without a vaccine" this is almost everything in my mind, as a new student in the US without a car. As @Artifex_Archer , i dont want to begin my phd by sitting in front of my screen. But I know there will be lots of difficulties for me to travel to the US and settle down now. So while I am praying for more flexibility from my school, I am thinking  questions like "will online learning better than nothing"? "Do I have an equally good plan to fulfil my gap year?"  "Will I enjoy the year away from school just as the year studying remotely?"

 

At the end, there is a question that I, or no one, can avoid. Will it be online for the whole year? I bet no one knows the answer. Choosing online means I need to be prepared for studying like this for a whole year. Deferring means freezing myself for a year and welcoming a rather "normal" start a year later.  

 

So far I still dont have the answer yet. But thanks again for all your comments to make me be able to re-phrase my question better and think more. 

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