The whole day I spent today with my son and wife, is likely to turn out to be the most “valuable” for my son’s career.
My son is 15 years’ old, going to start his XI Standard Senior Schooling from next month. He has opted out of Engineering, Medicine & Commerce streams – instead, he has gone for Humanities, Political Science & Sociology stream. When friends and family ask me what are his career choices I was not able to answer beyond saying he can do his Bachelors in Law, Political Science, Language and Humanities.
That’s when I reached out to my friend Mr Nedunchezhian Dhamotharan, CEO of India College Finder. Chezhian is THE authority on career guidance to school leaving students. He and his team have painstakingly collected data stretching back to decades from numerous colleges and universities across the length and breadth of the country (#India) covering thousands of courses.
From my school days, I am allergic to entrance tests and applications, I will do anything to not do them. So when Chezhian invited me to attend his full day program today on the topic of “Career Guidance Programme for 9-12th standard students and parents” with my son and my wife, I tried to wriggle my way – I said “why should I come? shouldn’t my wife and son be enough, anyway I don’t understand and I have lots of work on a Saturday (!)”. Chezhian persisted. Unenthusiastic I went. In the first 30 minutes itself, he convinced me (and the several other parents) on the value of his program and the reason behind why he insists that both parents and the ward attend the program – being that all the 3 are equal stakeholders on the career (college / course) choice of the ward and it is important to have all of them in the same page and to avoid one of them (mainly the father) being swayed effortlessly on a wrong directions by the “advice” from friends and family.
The next 7 hours was a fire hose of information:
0) starting from the higher education system in India,
1) I was impressed as he mentioned what I have been believing – that in the future the magic will happen (the growth in an individual career) not by specialising in a department, but when you have expertise across domains and have the human skills to work with teams with individuals with skills intersecting – for example when engineering intersects with medicine and computer science, we see futuristic treatments and so on,
2) how corrupt and gamed are the (majority) private institutions in the country (particularly in Tamil Nadu),
3) how rural kids are at a disadvantage to urban when it comes to sending application forms and the information about colleges and courses,
4) how many “reputed” government college/universities across the country (mainly in the North) are left with vacant seats because people in the south (Tamil Nadu) are not even aware of them being present and the unconventional disciplines (beyond Engineering and Medicine) they are offering. It happens mainly because of lack of awareness and parents not looking beyond JEE and NEET. Some of these colleges even recruit based on your board marks, and even pay stipends,
5) how their research has shown that in the last decade or so, the major entrance exams like JEE and now NEET carry questions only from what is present in the 11th and 12th syllabus, textbooks and practical lab classes. They have published a map(s) showing that for say for JEE that every question asked can be mapped to topics and subtopics which are within the textbook – and this applies for both National (CBSE) and State (Tamil Nadu and other state boards). It is a myth that national level entrances are an advantage to CBSE students. Of course, the students have to take the effort of doing this mapping by going through the previous years exam papers.
6) that some of the reputed colleges in the north, start their application procedures even before the 12th board exam and the importance of starting your application calendar from the end of your 11th exams. Otherwise, you risk falling into the trap laid out by private colleges taking advantage of your fear of being left out without any safety options (Plan B),
7) Irrespective of the field, there are plenty of career prospects. There are no “good” disciplines (think Engineering or Medicine) and “poor” (earning) disciplines,
8) It is important to choose the right institution than the course (that’s important too, but the former is more important. for example, a super latest course done in a university that has zero or bad reputation is worse for your prospect than an “ordinary” course in a good institution),
9) The last six months you spend in (applying and selecting) a 12th student’s life is more important than all the previous 17 years of schooling,
10) When you pay and get your kid into a private college, you are setting a wrong life lesson for them.
For my son, he learned plenty of options available for him ranging from integrated BBA/MBA, BA LLB, Social Science, Human Development, Tourism and Travel Management, Foreign Affairs, Transportation Management, Journalism, Foreign Language, Design and many more.
Please note that this is a paid program (Rs.5000 + taxes) by Nedunchezhian Dhamotharan and team. I felt it was worth much more than that. Think of all the lakhs of rupees you may save by not paying the private colleges, just because you knew about these (alternate) courses and (less crowded) colleges.