I am not the first one to moan, worry, and sweat about how today holding a degree or diploma means very little. International education, in places like India, face the same fate. Once upon a time you could safely assume that a college degree or diploma holder could read, write, do basic math, understand fundamental business and economic principles, and have some awareness of the world around him or her. Today, these assumptions are no longer true and many frustrated employers will attest to it. In fact, even many students will happily confess that they want a college degree not because they want to learn, but because they want to get a job – any job that pays well! And all this is happening while the cost of college tuition sky rockets and parents and students pay dearly to get that piece of paper!
Ironically this situation exists primarily because those who are paying for a college degree are not engaged in taking a closer look at college admissions, classroom instruction, or “life thereafter” including jobs, career prospects, and income potential. The words “dumb, fat, and happy” come to mind; “sleeping at the wheel” comes to mind; and more tragically, “the next bubble to burst” comes to mind.
So if you are a parent looking for a good college for your child, I recommend that you set aside the glossy brochures and the marketing hype, ignore the phone calls from admission counselors, and instead dig deep into the college, its curriculum, and its graduates.
- Think about selecting a college the same way you think about buying a car or a house. You don't buy a house or a car because the paint color looks good. You don't select a college because they were "nice to me during orientation," or they have good social clubs, or their brochures showed a diverse student body.
- Once you have narrowed your list of colleges, write down five "fact-based" reasons why you think this is the best college for your child or for yourself. If you can't get past Reason 1 – smell trouble and run.
- Touring a campus is great, but no employer gave a student a job because he or she graduated from a "good-looking" campus. Instead, delve deep into the background of the faculty, career placement, quality of students that are admitted, and average salaries of their graduates. If the college responds that such information is not available, buy a big red flag and wave it as high as you can.
More to follow!
Dr. Uma Gupta is an educational consultant who helps US colleges and universities expand their market presence and brand identity in India and is an expert on international student recruitment.