College Admissions: College or Course What Should be Your Choice?

“Who do you want to be when you grow up?” This is a question that young kids often are asked, and the replies are always colourful and span a great expanse. But reality tends to differ from the imagination and curiosity-driven world that kids live in. In today’s society, the question can accurately be corrected to, “What can I become?”.

Making a career choice is a momentous decision in a student’s life and it should be a well informed and well-thought decision. The first step in this crucial process comes down to choosing the right academic course along with the right college. An ideal choice here leads to a smooth and fulfilling progression towards a fruitful career.

The right course and the right college are two sides of the same coin, both playing a critical role in the development and progression of a possible career path. On some occasions though, these factors might not align. What to prioritize becomes an issue especially as college reputations carry a lot of weight. With renowned institutions attracting major companies, students often prioritize the college over the course. On the other hand, the ideal course can open up doors and career avenues that a less-than-perfect course might not be able to offer. This is the common conundrum that students end up facing when trying to make a choice.

Critical Aspects of Decision Making

A rational approach would be to analyze the influence of these choices on your career. While the right institution is crucial for a good career, it does not guarantee success. Passion, determination, and interest are also key elements for a successful career. To that end, choosing a course that doesn’t match one’s interests and aptitude, could lead to a failed career. Students end up prioritizing the reputation and prestige of a college over the best fit course because of future placements and higher salary packages.

The right course, however, will help in training and developing a highly honed and evolved skill set which is often the pre-requisite to be at the top of a particular career.

Placements: An Important Deciding Factor

The lure of placements after graduation is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. But while placements in large and reputed companies might seem like the gold standard to aim for, other factors must be considered. For instance, how often do students build a successful career from these positions? For every success story, how many students burn out, quit, or end up being unable to cope with the pressure of a job that seems perfect on the surface? With students often being ill-equipped to deal with the nature and demands of a job right out of college, a high-pressure job could lead to severe stress and leave them unmotivated, right at the beginning of their careers. It is imperative to choose a college that amounts to more than excellence in academic results with a best-fit course, faculty, extra-curricular activities, and an overall environment being crucial factors.

Exposure to Different Experiences

As a student, time is still on your side. There are countless opportunities to pursue and various avenues to explore. At school, these possibilities are limited by the inflexibility of the academic structure which is why college is the time to diversify and explore. Choosing a specific stream does not limit exploring other interests and options. In today’s world, the combination of the strength and power of imagination and determination can open doors that we never knew existed. Mixed in with getting to know different people, personalities, and perceptions, this unique blend forms the core learning experience for a college student.

Exposure to different activities such as college festivals, student bodies, and societies, also helps in refining and fine-tuning likes, dislikes, and interests and also helps broaden perspectives and understanding of society.

To help students make the right choices at the right time, educational institutions must take it upon themselves to introduce services like career counseling and career guidance. These would help tremendously in eliminating career confusion and developing a guided, and planned career path. With first steps often being the ones that are most difficult to take, providing the right foundation for students to build upon, should be the way forward.

— Written by Paridhi Khaitan, Managing Director, ProTeen

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