How to choose the right engineering college
With more than 2,000 colleges in the country, you may be spoilt for choice during admission season. It is important to research well before you take the plunge, says Amit Bansal.
Which of the following is true for you?
- You got into trouble with your parents for opening-up the mobile / computer
- You think about solving problems when your teacher is speaking in class
- You are called "very practical"
- You were told that you have very good observational skills
If you have more than two of the above then you need to be pursuing an engineering career.
Do you realise that choosing an engineering college is also like solving a problem and taking a decision?
With more than 2,000 engineering colleges across the nation you would need to make multiple decisions in order to get into the right college with the right environment and with the right kind of support to launch yourself.
Like any decision there is a risk involved and in this case it might be a big chunk of your parent's savings and more critically, your career is at stake.
Here are the three decision-making factors that you should keep in mind:
- Made in Cheena?
- The 'Gurukul Test'
- Tipping Point
The author is a career counsellor and trainer who heads PurpleLeap, an organisation that works with colleges to make students employment-ready.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier
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1. Made in 'Cheena'
Fake products are abundant in the market and so are fake educational institutions.
First and foremost, investigate the legal sanctity of the institution and the degree offered. Choosing and enrolling into a fake institution will not only pour your money down the drain but also plunge you into deep regret.
Read the points below and make a smart choice. It is a bit like learning to separate 'Cheena' from 'China'!
- Is the University awarding the degree authorised to do so? UGC maintains an updated database of fake universities on their site. Visit this link: http://www.ugc.ac.in/inside/fakealerts.html
- Is the college/institution recognised by AICTE? You can find this out at: http://www.aicte.ernet.in/
Illustration: Dominic Xavier
2. The Gurukul test
Imagine spending four years of your life in an institute which would feel just like home.
In the ancient days, Gurukuls would achieve a homely ambience. Times have changed now but the importance of the environment still remains. So what comprises a great study environment?
Here are four factors you should get right and will give you a good night's sleep (not during exams though!) after you enroll.
Look for the elephant's tooth! Elephant's tusks are not used for chewing. So do not mistake the tusk for the tooth. What I mean is that you must try to find out more about the kind of faculties.
Do not just look at the names mentioned in the brochures as it could happen that a lot of such names do not actually teach. If you find fancy names under 'advisory council' but do not find those names mentioned under 'department faculty', you know that these people are just for namesake and may not actually teach you.
So beware the tusker!
Make sure that you visit the campus where the classes will be held. Look at the lab facilities and try to figure out whether the equipment kept in those labs is actually being used or not.
If you find equipment that looks like straight out of the showroom (or the antique room), you know that possibly you will also never get a chance to use that equipment.
Interact with current students of the college and figure out the kind of environment that the institute provides.
Does the college have a culture of 'cuts and bunks', do the teachers take classes regularly, does the management provide right discipline to enable healthy learning environment etc.
Essentially, try to get a feel whether the place where you will spend eight hours every day for the next four years, meets your expectations or not.
Most good colleges go in for accreditation from National Board of Accreditation. This generally means that the college maintains certain standards, intends to be competitive and is quality conscious.
Find out the accreditation status from http://www.nba-aicte.ernet.in.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
3. Tipping Point
Engineering is a lot of hard work and involves a lot opportunity cost (the alternate uses that you could have put the money to, the alternate college / career that you could have pursued etc) and you want just rewards for all the effort.
The best way the college can reward you is by arranging campus placements. This for many of you will be the 'tipping point'. In other words, the right company can tip you or push you into a better career growth as compared to poor start in a wrong job.
Also remember, the main role of the college is to provide you good academic inputs and help you get a degree; they have no obligation to get you a job. It is only left to the initiative of the college management to get you a job by the end of your degree.
It becomes all the more important in these tough economic times that the college you join has an active interest in getting you a job. The 'placement record' is an external or third party endorsement of the college and is generally an accurate assessment of the quality of the college.
The following factors will decide your tipping point:
1. Training and Placement Office (TPO) activities
Most engineering colleges will have a TPO. However, it is important to know how active they are. What all did the cell do in the last year. How many opportunities did the students get in the last couple of years. Check the notice boards!
2. Placement rate
How many students actually got placed in the last few years? While most colleges will claim 100 per cent placements, it is important for you to find out how true those claims are. If the college is just naming the companies that interviewed the students, chances are high that the students are not getting placements.
3. Career programmes
How many students get selected for good MBA or MS programmes is also a good indicator of how successful students will be after completing their engineering.
4. Employment and career readiness initiatives
A very strong indicator on the attitude of the management towards placements can also be judged by the initiatives being taken to get students ready for the industry. Does the college have industry-readiness programmes being run in addition to the regular academic input?
So while your passion is engineering and you love your subject, also use the three-point formula:
- Avoid the fakes
- Select the environment suits you, and
- Keep placements in mind
When you become an engineer, you will be happy you followed this engineering formula.
All the best!
Photographs: Rediff Archives