How to choose the right course and the right institution

Some tips to help students decide which course and institution is right for them

Some tips to help students decide which course and institution is right for them

Does everyone like what he does? For example, do all computer engineering students like their field of study? Do all software engineers love their job? Not always. There are students who like what they study but not the institution where they study. I have met many students who have had a torturous experience of being forced to do what they did not like to do. Failing to choose the right course and the right institution can have adverse effects on people.

The season for admission to engineering courses has begun. The ranking list of candidates seeking admission into engineering courses in Tamil Nadu has been released recently and counseling has started. According to Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions Board (TNEA), about 1.58 lakh engineering aspirants are on the ranking list. Thousands of students have already joined various private engineering schools and reputable universities in the state.

During my interactions with aspiring engineers and their parents, I discovered that many of them were carried away by lofty claims and empty promises in promotional advertisements for private engineering institutions in print and electronics. Unfortunately, even highly educated parents lack the ability to look at these commercials and infomercials critically.

Some private institutions spend millions of rupees on advertisements to sell their products (seats) to potential aspirants. These advertisements contain not only information but also misinformation about awards, accreditation, ranking, campus internships, etc. Educator Dr. K. Elango refers to these misleading advertisements as “commercial information”. This incentivizes anxious parents to gain admission into “reputable” or “top-notch” institutions for their children and fall prey to the commercial activity of some eduppreneurs.

Choosing the right course and the right institution at the tertiary level is a crucial decision for students to make. Often, due to parental/peer pressure, many students make poor decisions. It is therefore important to consult competent people or specialists. Candidates for a particular course should check if they are really passionate about that area and that course before deciding what and where they want to study. Here are some tips for doing so:

Know your passion: Students should try to find answers to these questions: What are my academic interests? Am I really interested in a particular course (mechanical engineering, for example)? How do I know if I’m interested? Why am I interested in it? What are the job prospects for those who are graduates/specialists in the course/program/area?

Rate your passion: This involves another set of questions such as Have I researched the course I’m interested in? Have I discussed my passion with experts or people pursuing a career in the field? What are my academic strengths and weaknesses? Do I have sufficient knowledge of the course? Am I able to tell others in a convincing way why I want to choose this course and what my future goals are?

Promote your passion: Most students are familiar with the three-word saying “Follow your passion,” though they may not know how to translate it into action. Today, many students research and assess their interests and are able to convince their parents and make decisions on their own. After choosing the right course, it is important to choose the right institute. To do this, students must be able to answer the following questions: What is the right college/university for me? What do I know about the establishment? Are there qualified, experienced and renowned professors in the department? How do others perceive the college? On what basis did I choose college or university?

Those who have found their passion should follow it and value it. This will help them stay on track and be motivated.

The author is an ELT resource person and education columnist.

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