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Don't let a 'bad college' determine the fate of your career. Today, there are multiple ways to build knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
Following the declaration of results this year, I received a visit from Shuchi Mehta who scored 92 per cent in Class 12.
She came to my office and started crying because she would not get admission in any 'good college'.
With admission cut-offs in colleges sky-rocketing it has left many students with less than 90 per cent in a state of despondency.
The 'good college' gold rush
The admission cycle of 2012 convinced me like never before that students of Class 12 can no longer afford to be focussed on anything but books because one mark more or less can determine the fate of a student by putting them inside or outside the golden gates of a 'good college'.
Last month, I counselled a large number of students who have a strong desire to learn, are ambitious but have not scored a good percentage in the boards. They wonder whether entering a 'not-so-good college' will force them to lead an average life.
The author is a career counsellor and Director, Careertrack.
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The race to enter the gates of 'good colleges' is so strong that we forget something important -- it is not just the institution that makes or breaks our lives.
Perseverance and hard work with which you put your career together will finally determine your success rate.
A 'good college' provides a ready-made blanket of opportunities. But don't forget that talent and potential is inside you.
Traditionally, Indian students neither work part-time nor do internships.
Hence, it is not surprising that countless students graduate with degrees without ever having seen the workings of an office, company or factory.
Dinesh, who finished his engineering degree came to me for career counselling.
His exact words shocked me: "Madam, please help me find a job even if it is in Timbuktu".
On paper, he had a First Class and had been involved with various extra-curricular activities. But he had no experience with an engineering or a software firm.
This made the question in the first job interview -- "What experience do you have?" -- almost impossible to attempt.
Websites to seek Internship opportunities
Dinesh's explanation that the college did not make training compulsory was of little advantage to him.
The bottom-line was that he was without a job. An internship is a great way to pick up a few marketable skills.
For an internship, my suggestion is not to be brand-conscious and only seek an opportunity in a large company as very often large companies will give you only a limited role.
Target start-ups, small and medium businesses around where you are and see if there is a business/technical challenge that you can solve for them.
So, if you find yourself in a college where there is no emphasis on practical learning then instead of spending hours in the canteen get in touch with local employers around you and see if you can help them solve any of their work problems in exchange for learning and a certificate.
Aamir Khan's character tells Milimeter in the film 3 Idiots that to study you don't need tuition fees, just a uniform.
Not all of us can go to prestigious universities worldwide. But owing to donations received from various organisations, it has become possible for prestigious universities to offer their coursework online.
In an attempt to make high quality education accessible to more students worldwide, quality universities across the world are joining hands and making course material freely available online through free lectures, notes and videos followed by an exam to test your learning.
So even though these courses are not followed by a certificate you can use the opportunity to benchmark and direct your own learning in the domain.
Google Code University also offers free tutorials and courses on programming, web security and more. With such a vast range of online resources available you could very easily pick up some appropriate skills through determination and self-discipline.
Open learning resources you can consider
So, in case you are in Ajay's situation and find yourself in a college where there is not much opportunity for learning, then identify various experiences that you can seek out for yourself, which will make you an independent problem-solver, a self-learner and an ideal candidate for that job that you are aiming for.
Let's face it. The path to success is not a straight line.
Each obstacle brings a fresh opportunity.
Unravel your potential.
We just need to decide whether we want to give it all up and wallow in self-pity or pick up the pieces and start building a career!