Potential graduate students choose to defer admissions, change career focus during COVID-19

Kevin Vu

While some prospective graduate students deferred their admissions to graduate programs this fall due to COVID-19, others have used the pandemic as a way to find new programs to gain more expertise.

Gregorio Pontoi, president of Graduate Student Assembly, said more graduate departments have joined the assembly. He said more graduate students have spoken about the positive and negative impacts of COVID-19 during assembly meetings.

“I guess a lot of people are worried about their future and are re-evaluating that,” physics graduate student Pontoi said. “A lot of students who are in graduate school have pivoted from doing research to writing what their stuff is. People have been able to adjust and just take time away from what they’ve been doing.”

Business analytics graduate student Benjamin Deutsch decided to attend McComb's Master of Science in Business Analytics program because of the difficulty he experienced trying to find a job during COVID-19. 

“I was told that nobody was going to hire me in my sector. It was disconcerting because you work for an ‘X’ amount of time thinking that you’d get a job right after,” Deutsch said.  “It’s actually serendipitous that everything worked out. I’m super grateful that I got into this (program) because it helped me get into a field that I’m excited (about) and interested in.”


Pontoi said many international students deferred admissions to graduate programs because they could not travel to the United States. 

Omar Barrera, an international student who graduated from college in South Korea, said he was accepted into Cockrell’s Science in Electrical Engineering Master’s program for fall 2020. He said he deferred his admission because he did not want to start school online while also working full time as a manufacturing engineer in South Korea.

“It was pretty much a forced decision,” Barrera said. “I don’t see the point in quitting my full-time job to become a full-time online student. I don’t think it’s the best investment in both time and resources.”

Barrera said COVID-19 will continue to be a barrier in the spring, so he has not decided if he should attend school. 

“I’m thinking of starting in spring 2021 and just taking one course so I could do my daytime job and maybe take the class after work,” Barrera said. “Taking anything more than one course is probably going to be an overload because my job can be quite demanding.”