College Admissions – pointers to choose your college

The admission season is around the corner. Here are some pointers to help you choose your college.

The race for college admission will begin as soon as Class XII examination results are declared. With 100 per cent cut-off rates and thousands of students applying for each seat, the pressure is simply unimaginable. The situation demands that students and parents adopt the correct method of selecting colleges instead of randomly applying to them.

Present scenario

In a study covering over 10,000 high school students and their parents across 15 cities in India, on their college selection and short-listing process, it was discovered that the first choice of colleges for students and parents was invariably the one with very good academic reputation.

Colleges in India like St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, Christ University, Bangalore, St. Xavier’s, Kolkata and Loyola College, Chennai, are the most sought after. Internationally, Harvard University and MIT, U.S., Cambridge University and Oxford University in the U.K. and the Australian National University, Australia, are the most sought after. Ironically, less than 1 per cent of the students who apply actually get a chance to study at these esteemed institutions.

Another popular reason for selecting a college is the placement statistics of the college. It is true that a college’s repute is of utmost importance which is established partly by the placements it offers. Companies do pay slightly greater attention to colleges with bigger brand names.

However, it is interesting to note that unless an applicant is completely worthy of hiring, he isn’t hired. The hype is naturally around students who get placed in multinational companies and get salaries in six figures. The least attention is paid to students who do not get placed.

Course vs college

Because of access to the Internet, students and parents are bombarded with information on higher education options, both in terms of the courses and the colleges. But, there is little knowledge available that could clarify their doubts. Most of the sources are unreliable and the information is often biased and based on limited personal experiences.

Students often apply to a college without first deciding on the course. Often known as the ‘herd mentality syndrome’, they choose a college because others decide to do so. With limited understanding, it just feels safer to blindly follow rather than individually make their career decisions.

Youngsters also associate themselves more with the brand name of the college than the course they are interested in. For many, getting into a branded college elevates their status within their friends circle.

A famous college might get students more job interview opportunities, but only the right course combined with the knowledge gained gets them the right job. Preference should always be given to the course over the college since it’s not necessary that all courses of a popular college are equally recognised. Substandard course content from a well-known college is likely to do more harm than good.

Key factors

Students must identify their needs, and list out their long-term goals and expectations before setting out on a college hunt.

The most important factor to consider is the course that the student wants to pursue — a decision to be taken keeping in mind, his/her aptitude and interest. To finalise a course, students must introspect on a few matters including which subject interests them and their areas of strength.

The choice of course in a subject should be such that it becomes a natural progression of their existing skills and qualifications.

Once the course is selected, the next step is to decide where the student wants to pursue it. If interested in studying at an international destination, location and geography play an important role.

Depending on individual preferences, students can choose to attend a college located in a pleasant suburb or in a bustling city, or even a serene hill-side campus.

Besides the location, it is best to select colleges which the student is eligible to apply for.

Most universities and colleges abroad also have a minimum cut-off for SAT/ACT and TOEFL/IELTS scores, in addition to a minimum aggregate at 10+2 or equivalent level.

Visiting the university campus is a good idea to get a feel of the environment and to understand the kind of experience the student seeks. The tuition fee and other costs of education vary from college to college, while living and travelling costs vary with location.

The availability of funding could be a deciding factor as well. The duration of funding, living expenses and accommodation, part-time work opportunities on campus, are some of the other factors to be considered.

The author is the CEO and founder of Univariety.

Author: Jaideep Gupta

Source: The Hindu