Cherry pick your pathshala: how to choose your college

Noteworthy institutions make their mark by attracting a number of applicants for their postgraduate and doctoral programmes.   | Photo Credit: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Quo Vadis in Latin translates to “Where are you going?” Admissions season is just around the corner. Every year, students scout for institutions to realise their ambitious dreams. On the other hand, we have an advertisement blitzkrieg unleashed by educational institutions, targeting the gullible parents who want to sculpt their child’s future. The towering inferno of parents’ desires, and the unquenchable thirst of institutions to admit students result in a volley of cleverly crafted advertisements for admissions. Students and parents willingly fall prey.

The natives of Latium have coined the phrase caveat emptor which means “let the buyer beware.” I would like to share simple clues for students to cherry pick a pathshala for higher education, circumventing the alluring, synchronised, orchestrated, torrent of advertisements for educational institutions, and also the ranking of institutions released by different agencies. Students and parents can prepare a checklist using the following parameters and collate data about institutions they are interested in.

Timelines: Good institutions have a clear chronological timeline as to when applications will be issued, the last date for submitting filled-in application forms, the date the selection list will be announced, the date by which fees should be paid, when classes would start, and so on. If timelines are sloppy, be wary of those institutions.

Diversity: Institutions of repute will have students and faculty representing the diversity of the state, the country and the world at large. There would be unskewed sex ratio (except in single gender institutions) and it would be distinct across levels. The food menu in the campus would indicate the thoughtfulness shown towards accommodating fellow scholars from varied geographical terrains. Universal brotherhood will be portrayed by the euphoria with which different festivals are celebrated, transcending religious boundaries. They will have ramps and wheel-chairs to supplement steps to aid mobility of the differently-abled. They may also have a Braille section in their library. If diversity is scanty, it would be better to look for other institutions that offer it in abundance.

Campus placements: Institutions with good standing would have companies representing various industries knocking at the door. One could, with ease, see automobile, banking, electronics, FMCG, IT, ITES, insurance, NGOs, pharmaceutical and a plethora of other industries joining the recruitment bandwagon, vying with each other, to give students opportunities to choose from. They would represent various functions like design, finance, HRM, marketing, manufacturing, R&D, SCM, and more.

Projects with stipends: In promising institutions students would be sought after by organisations. They would be offered meaningful projects along with a healthy stipend. In other institutions, getting a project still remains a mirage for students; they have to keep running from pillar to post, and sometimes end up shelling money for a project. In short, institutions where students get stipend for their projects are superior to the rest.

Educational loans: Getting an educational loan for students of respected institutions would be as easy as buying a SIM card. They have to submit the required documents for the loan to be sanctioned seamlessly. Loan availability is an empirical indicator of the stature of the institution. Their poorer cousins will fail miserably in this litmus test.

Higher degrees: Crescendo in admission can generally be seen for enrolment to the undergraduate programmes in many institutions. All other higher level courses end up high and dry. Noteworthy institutions make their mark by attracting a number of applicants for their postgraduate and doctoral programmes. Their placement track will reflect this trend.

Pass percentage: Many institutions blow their own trumpets in claiming that they have secured university ranks. This can also be because of the brilliance of a few students, without any meaningful contribution from the institution.

“One swallow does not make a summer,” goes the old saying. On the other hand, the pass percentage is more vital. If the academic environment is good, the pass percentage would be high. So, pass percentage is a better barometer of academic performance than the university ranks secured.

Financial support: An institution can be easily graded based on the amount of money received from donors who come forward to develop the institution. Philanthropists look for institutions with credibility and lend a helping hand.

Elected student body: There would be an elected student body to foster the needs of the student community in institutions that never stop striving to excel.

An unfettered newsletter, of the students, by the students, for the students, would be the catalyst for change. Nothing can be more assuring to a student than the building that houses the office of the elected student body.

Eco-friendliness: Can there be a good institution which is not eco-friendly? Institutions which want to move from strength to strength must demonstrate their unconditional love to the environment. All who enter the institution must leave as an ambassador of nature. The complementing flora, fauna and landscape should be a representative sample of the locale.

Human relations: What is so great in an institution if it cannot cultivate human relations among all?

The teacher and the taught should learn to respect and love each other. The strongest desire of all should lie in embracing this quote from the Bible which says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself.”

The lesser the number of surveillance cameras, the better is the blossoming of human relations is a hypothesis that can be validated by those who find this point difficult to comprehend.

Advertisements: Incessant advertisements or concerted public relations’ efforts alone do not make a hallowed institution. In fact, revered institutions do not make their point through such self-indulgence but rather leave an indelible impression on all who pass through their sacred portals; those who become their greatest billboards.

Parents and students should go out of the way to look for institutions which score well on these factors. Educationists can consider this as a clarion call to further improve their institutions.

The author is the Dean of Aachi Institute of Management & Entrepreneurial Development (AIMED). He was awarded the prestigious Kentucky Colonel,

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Printable version | Jan 11, 2022 2:21:35 AM |

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