So, here is the time when many school pass outs are looking for admissions in various disciplines, based on their aggregate scoring in the high school examination!
And that is one of the toughest phases of education, seemingly so, for all aspiring students.
But, are the marks alone enough for promising education and a sound career?
Are parents also looking at the placement statistics of the institution where the child is opting for higher education?
Is there anything else that the admission seeking students and their parents need to know, beyond their scores and their preferred courses & subjects?
Well, since ancient times, the great Indian thinkers have always looked at education as the means for enlightenment through intellectual and moral development. Interestingly, even the greatest western thinkers of higher education like John Henry Newman (1850’s), Franklin Bobbit (1940’s), and Martha Nussbaum (contemporary) have consistently emphasized that university education is primarily aimed at developing individual’s intellect and raise the intellectual tone of society
Peripheral factors like scoring and immediate placements, etc., cannot continue to be its prime motivators for long. The admission seekers and their parents have to look at higher education as training for life and for the last job rather than the first job.
We are hereby proposing 11 cumulative questions that can help the parents and students need to know the thing before seeking College Admission to get clarifications about the core factors related the program of study and the institute they are opting for.
- What are the goals and distinguishing characteristics of the curriculum? How does the curriculum address the need of broad based multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary education? How are industry internship and service learning (e.g., social internship, etc.) incorporated in the curriculum? What kind of flexibility and choices are offered to the students in deciding the specific courses (subjects)?
- How does the curriculum aim to engage the student with larger and deeper questions related to life, society, profession, business ecosystem, and sustainable development?
- What is the process of curriculum revision? When was the curriculum revised last time? What is the process of revising the syllabus of specific courses listed in the curriculum? How many specific courses listed in the curriculum have been revised in the last three years? How many new courses have been added to the curriculum in the last three years? How does the education help for next 10 years.
- What kind of text and reference books are used in courses? Are students necessarily engaged with world class books by internationally reputed authors or some low quality local books dominate student racks?
- How many faculty members are there in the core discipline of the program? What is the student-faculty ratio in the core discipline? What is the typical class size? What is the average weekly teaching load of faculty? Do they have sufficient time to interact with individual students?
- What are the qualification, teaching experience, non-teaching professional experience, and interdisciplinary exposure of the faculty members of core discipline? Where did they study and work before? What kind of participation do they have in professional and alumni networks? What kind of professional, research, writing, consultancy, or social interests do they pursue?
- What faculty and student exchange programs are effectively operational in the institution? What is duration and nature of these programs? What fraction of faculty and students have benefitted from such programs in last three years?
- In the last three years, how many students from the institution have won some international or national awards related to the core discipline?
- In the last three years, how many students have gone for further studies at world’s top 200 universities/institutes with respect to the core discipline they are opting?
- What kinds of opportunities are available to students for extra-curricular engagement? Do these engagements expand their aesthetic sensitiveness, creativity, self expression, social responsibility, and leadership abilities? How are extra-curricular activities integrated with their core discipline?
- What kind of ecosystem, encouragement, and support are provided to students for creation their own startups? How many students and alumni have created their own startups in the last 3 years?
In the last decade, scoring and placement seem to have become the most popular criteria and sometimes even the sole factor for assessing the quality of education. When it comes to reporting educational news, a large section of popular media finds placement related news to be the most worthy positive aspect of campuses.
A large number of institutes have started paying over-attention to the placement activity. In our view, the present highly skewed trend is even more harmful than those days when the campus placement was of no or very little concern to the educational institutes, till 1980’s. With the growing economy and opening avenues, there is no dearth of jobs in some sectors.
Employers’ entry level manpower needs are so large that do not even bother to look at the quality of education and mark-sheets of the prospective young brigade. And this is perfectly fine with respect to the nature of the work assigned to most freshers at many companies. It is not intellectually very demanding or challenging and hence it does not require deep technical knowledge and high scoring.
Often an overall pleasing personality with potential to remain disciplined and learn on the job are sufficient criteria for selection. For example, for the last several years, each of the major IT service company is recruiting tens of thousands of freshers with or without distinctions. Obviously their needs cannot be fulfilled by few colleges.
Hence, they have to recruit in large numbers at hundreds of colleges all over the country. Much better quality jobs are available in smaller companies.
The admission seeking students and their parents should not consider campus placement and scoring as the only and a very reliable/sustainable measures of the quality of education. They need to look at the core factors to reliably assess the quality of education for a long run, which help to sustain a lifetime.
We are sure that asking some of the above listed questions will help the admission seeking students and their parents to focus on the core factors at the time of such a crucial decision making.
Demanding and inquisitive students and parents will also create the required stimulus for the education community to reflect and respond with required improvements in our system.
All the very best to each one of you, seeking higher education and good jobs there of!