It is that time of an year where a student is very confused and parent very stressed. They want to reach the portals of an institution worth pursuing a course from. There are many questions that may be popping in mind – How do we really evaluate a course and the institution very objectively? How to compare a course in an institution with that of another? Is an education fair useful to find answers to my dilemmas?
Education fairs are welcome interventions to facilitate parents and students to get the feel of the institutions and the courses. They may facilitate the confused child and a stressed parent, by providing opportunity to interact with counsellors, not only to gather information, but also have insights into the authenticity of the programmes. Many times one may even come across a university or a course of his or her liking while browsing through the fairs, which otherwise one is not really aware of.
But it has been observed that most of the times these fairs usually fail to attract the top-of-the-line institutions as those do not need any publicity. And also students who have scored well and who have the potential to get admitted in the top institutions do not visit education fairs either. So, education fairs are just a means to serve the purpose of gaining awareness of institutions and courses.
Bombastic claims and ad campaigns in various media should not influence our decision taking. It is very important that the parent or the student does a serious research to understand and evaluate the institution before taking a final call. This research can scourge secondary data on the web, primary research by visiting the institution and also interacting with professors, alumni etc.
A few of the parameters on which any institution can be evaluated are –
a. Course – How relevant is the design of the course you want to pursue, to the current and future evolving context of industry / economy? How up-to-date is the course? Is it futuristic and enabling enough for a student to discover or stroke ones potential and also grab the opportunities.
b. Faculty – What are the credentials of the faculty : academic background, experience (teaching / industry), publications – papers and books, larger roles played in the societal context (government committees, industrial societies etc.), consulting work (which organizations). Able and reputed faculties can make a huge difference to the institutional building and also in facilitating students’ excellence.
c. Infrastructure – campus, well-equipped classrooms, round the clock access to well stocked library and cutting-edge computer centres, sports arenas that can really engage the students in their learning process
d. Students Residential ? If a course is residential, it can make tremendous difference to learners as the collaborative learning through interaction becomes a 24X7 process. If the programme is residential, the interactions can be more intense and extended; discussions can encompass the entire gamut of issues around a problem that we are trying to solve, rather than looking at perfunctory solutions.
e. Faculty residential? If faculty also resides on the campus, the interaction can be even richer. While I was a student, I have had many an interaction with the faculty really late evenings too in a relaxed and productive environment, as the resident faculty usually spends in their office rooms till late in the evening and they encourage involved students to push their boundaries.
f. Location and Industry institutional integration? How well the institution is integrated with the industry is a significant key to shape the institution in terms of design of courses, attracting visiting faculty who are practicing professionals, possibility of students engagement in industry alive projects etc.
g. Students – how competitive is the selection process of students? Greater the competition (not necessarily marks) and intense is the selection process, higher the quality that emerges. If the student community is vibrant with activities across the spectrum – co-curricular and curricular with active clubs, inter-institutional competitions etc – developing ones personality will happen naturally.
h. Placements / Alumni record – Finally every student either wants to join a corporate or engage oneself in an entrepreneurial environment. The future of our nation will very much depend on the environment in an institution to foster entrepreneurial leadership. So I consider this as a very important parameter. Kindly probe more into the institutions records to categorize.
If an institution is new, and yet one can find significant strength in other parameters except for placement, I for one will opt for the institution as it gives an opportunity to the student to be part of the institutional evolution.
i. Last but not the least the cost for doing a programme after all the above parameters evaluated
These are a few parameters one can use to evaluate an institution. Irrespective of which course you are opting for, benchmarking will help you narrow on to an institution and programme worth investing for the next three to four years of under-graduation or subsequent graduation too.
2) While approaching an organisation for internship, what are the factors that a candidate should keep in mind?
As much as we evaluate an institution, one can benchmark an organization when a student looks for an internship –
a. What sort of work is the organization engaged in my area of interest? One needs to probe a little deeper to gain real insights.
b. How serious is the organization about the interns? Do they give live projects to work on? Do they really implement findings and recommendations of the intern to make the systems, processes and business more effective?
c. Does the organization invest in the interns as much as it does on the regular employees? Do they take interest in the development of the interns?
d. What sort of relationship does the organization maintain with the interns even after they leave? Do they give pre-placement offers and recruit outstanding interns?
In either of the cases – The course and the institution evaluation and, the organization evaluation – what would really help is the clarity one has about ones own goal; what is that one really enjoys and what one wants to do in life. Once we have this clarity, achieving the goal is a natural process as we will definitely work towards realizing it – where to undertake the course, institution to study in and Organization to associate with will emerge.