The summer months are extremely trying for college aspirants and their parents as they wait for the Class 12 results and to know the outcome of their applications to various higher educational institutions. How does one select the right college or university? It is imperative not to succumb to societal pressure and opt for a college based on its reputation. The safe way would be to look at their rank, reputation, and placement data. However, it is also important look beyond the name and select colleges that equip its learners with tools to explore 21st century possibilities. Here are some factors to consider:
Eclectic electives: Institutes that offer a wide range of electives and encourage students to venture out of their comfort zone will help create happier, well-rounded learners. A student who is allowed to team, say, Science with Music or Theatre will be more engaged than one forced to sit through classes and lectures he/she has no interest in.
Entrepreneurial incubators: Colleges should provide safe spaces for students to explore and bring their ideas to fruition. Incubators are becoming common across academic institutions in India, as they enable students to give shape to their designs, introduce and foster the idea of entrepreneurship, and attract the attention and funds of venture capitalists. Opting for a college with a vibrant incubator culture will ensure a launchpad for one’s potentially life-changing ideas.
Interdisciplinary approach: Before selecting a college, go through their website, learn about the faculty, and see if their teaching methods are interdisciplinary route. For example, a faculty from the Engineering department who also works extensively with the Management department and the industries outside will adopt a holistic approach and empower students.
Encourages diversity: Classrooms should have students and faculty from diverse regions and cultures to help learners overcome cultural, gender, and language barriers, sensitise them and help them communicate confidently with everyone.
Student clubs: Whether it is robotics, drama, elocution, sports, trekking... having a variety of options will help learners explore existing interests and learn new ones. Clubs are also a great way to meet new people who may later be colleagues, partners or friends.
Location: A college located in a place known for its cultural and historical importance will help students learn about food, architecture and art and significantly improve their cultural awareness and overall personality.
Betterment of society: Choose a college has initiated various community development projects in its area or has tied up with NGOs and local governments to do the same. Observe how the alumni, faculty, and elders engage with society, help tackle problems, and bring about change. Joining these endeavours will strengthen students’ citizenship foundations and moral compass.
Other parameters include a diverse alumni base, excellent internship opportunities, immersion and exchange programmes, and course credit exchanges with other colleges and universities.
If you have not received admission from a college yet, don’t lose heart. Take a gap year, invest time working as an apprentice or an intern, and re-apply next year.
The writer is Founder and CEO, School of Meaningful Experiences