A Versace perfume
An Armani bag
A pair of Nike shoes
Brands penetrate into every part of our life and the millennial generation is more brand-savvy than any other generation before.
Perhaps nowhere is brand fascination stronger than in the education industry. Parents and students have always made big decisions, spent big bucks, and traveled long distances based on the brand value of the college.
The simple logic was, ‘Degree from a top college means lifetime job security.’ Until a few years ago, this was true, and that is why parents today still believe it.
The real value of branded colleges has changed drastically in the last decade, but the perception is changing slowly. Two main reasons why brand names matter much less today.
1. University Curriculums are not Aligned to the Real World Need
Top CEOs and some of the most successful people today believe that traditional University education is not imparting students with the skills they need on the job.
They believe that education that imparts real-life skills is much more valuable than education with just a brand name. “Skills matter more than diplomas,” is the belief of Elon Musk, Founder & CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.
The mindset of, “I don’t know what I want to do. But, I will go to a good university and get a great job,” will not work in today’s day and age. Watch Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba, talk about his view on college education.
2. Top Companies Care Much Lesser About College Brand Names
Companies like Google, Facebook, Tesla, and many others are removing the college name mentioned on the resume’ before having the hiring manager do the interview. They don’t want to allow the inherent bias (Halo / Horn Effect) to come in.
For the 1st time in its history, Half of the new hires at Apple in 2018 did not even have a four year college degree!
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple thinks you don’t need a college education to be successful. Many other companies like Google, IBM, Bank Of America Echo the same thought. The focus is now on YOU and YOUR SKILLS
Two surveys conducted by Gallup, confirm that hiring managers are most concerned about the knowledge that a candidate possesses and not where they received their college degrees from.
The New Age Of College Education Focuses Less On ‘College’ & More On ‘Education’
Colleges which are focused on helping students prepare for an uncertain and unpredictable future are coming into the forefront like never before. Colleges which help students sharpen their ability to learn and potentially solve real-world problems. Colleges which understand the rhythm of what employers are looking for are making a name for themselves at a record pace.
Institutions like Indian School Of Business, Ashoka University, O P Jindal Global University in India became strong brands in less than 10 years. Earlier, it used to take 3-4 decades for a college to ‘Rise’ in reputation.
Not just in India, all around the world, young colleges are making students think critically and equipping them with a skillset that’s hard for companies to say no to. They are redefining the education system and preparing students for the future. Another evidence that skills are what ultimately dominate in today’s market is that Online Degrees are being taken up at an unprecedented rate.
What Makes A College A TOP College In Today’s World?
Here are a few qualities that make a college a TOP college.
Interdisciplinary curriculum cuts across various disciplines and allows you to apply the knowledge of one discipline in another. In today’s employment world where you are expected to know something about everything, an interdisciplinary curriculum paves the path to it.
FLAME University, a popular University in Pune rises beyond the traditional curriculum. A student at FLAME University can choose subjects from across Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Performing Arts in the same year. They can truly explore all their academic interests, widen their learning spectrum, and finally ace one specialization that they enjoy the most. The college that you are thinking of should allow choosing subjects and not have a rigid ‘One Size Fits All’ approach
Global Partnerships help students broaden their perspective, give exposure, and make them more adaptable as people. All of which is very essential for landing a great job in today’s time.
Ashoka University offers students great global exposure with their optional international internships, research collaboration, short term study opportunities, and student mobility, both inbound and outbound. Duke University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania are some of the universities that Ashoka University has partnerships with.
Internships & Industry Interactions
Practical experience is a cherry on the cake for any employer while they are interviewing someone for a job. Colleges that lay stress upon internships & industry interactions are preparing you for your future. SP Jain Institute Of Management & Research helps students get industry experience with their compulsory internships. Every year, more than 47 companies visit their campus to offer Autumn Internships, most of them are also offered pre-placement opportunities too. Companies like Amazon, Google, Philips, Loreal, Asian Paints, and a lot more offer internships to students and make them industry-ready. Check the past track record of internships that the college has. Most colleges focus entirely on final placements, but not so much on internships.
Visiting Faculty – Industry Experts
Learning from industry experts gives you an edge over the rest. Colleges with visiting faculty, who are experts in their respective fields, teach you more in an hour than what you learn in an entire semester. Not just that, you start making connections early on. NALSAR University has an entire army of visiting faculty who are experts in their domain, which helps students in learning from a practical perspective. From History of Law by Abhinav Chandrachud to Mergers & Acquisitions by Vaibhav Ganjiwale, they have industry veterans come and teach on campus.
A Combination Of Digital & Physical Infrastructure
The world is moving at a pace that’s hard to catch-up. Innovations happen every second, quite literally. So it is important that a college has a mix of digital and physical infrastructure to make you ace both at tech-intelligence and emotional-intelligence.
Built with great vision and keeping the future in mind, Amity University provides the best combination of digital and physical infrastructure with classrooms and e-learning studios. Their classrooms are digitally equipped to have lectures be screened from anywhere in the world. Their e-learning studios are the focal point for the live sessions by guest faculty. Not just that, they are the first university in India to have student Intranet, so that student learning doesn’t end at the classroom.
You can’t be taught leadership in theory, but only through practical exposure. With jobs looking for leadership qualities while recruiting, it is paramount that colleges provide leadership opportunities to you for early exposure & learning. O.P. Jindal Global University focuses on building leaders of tomorrow. They make this happen with their curriculum and the extracurricular activities they offer. With their young business leaders program, large scale debates, and other initiatives, they push students to become leaders.
Campus Clubs That Nurture Your Potential
From Debate Clubs in Law colleges to Mock UN Counsels for Political Science, college clubs push you to think beyond the curriculum and grades and help you develop skills that are needed to ace in the real world. National Institute Of Fashion Technology has a lot of clubs that bring together their various campuses with huge events. Some of the clubs include; Social & Environmental club, Literary club, Drama club, Film & Photography Club, Sports club, etc. These clubs bring together students of different years for cross-learning and to nurture potential.
Placement Opportunities give you the initial boost you need to transition into the employment world and give you a sense of security right in the final year of college. Colleges with great placements will always be on top of the table. Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune boosts of a great placement record. Every year hundreds of companies like Colgate, Godrej, Accenture etc. recruit on campus, which gives students a great sense of security. Students are starting to understand what makes a TOP college in today’s world. They believe that quality education needs aspects like high qualified teachers, good employment rate, up-to-date technology.
According to an International Student Survey conducted on 62,366 students from 65 universities around the world, the ranking of the university is NOT one of the top three factors that indicates the quality of teaching.
So, now you know what makes a college a TOP college in today’s day and age.
How Do You Get Into A TOP College?
The traditional methods of admission involve school grades and entrance exams. While these are still important, they can only get you through the initial elimination process only and NOT the selection process.
In fact, a lot of top colleges around the world made standardized tests optional.
Top colleges of the Future want to see the clarity of thought. Have you thought through why you are wanting to study the course you have applied for? Have you ‘Demonstrated Interest’ in the course you are applying for or are you just saying it?
There are various ways that a student can ‘Demonstrate Interest’ in the field applying to and the steps begin from school. Here are 10 different kinds of activities a student can do:
- Work Experience – Nothing can show interest like the vigour to start working in the career industry of your interest early on. If you have work experience in the field of your interest, it will give you an edge over the rest. Anusha Jain is a student who interned at various places like BNP Paribas (Bahrain), Environmental Management Centre(India), Ambuja Cement and got admission in Univerisity of Toronto.
- Summer Programs – Every top university around the world offers summer programs. Participating in a summer program and dedicating an entire summer learning the subject of your interest, demonstrates interest.
- Online Certifications – Online education is seeing a major boom in India, especially considering the current COVID-19 crisis. Having done online certification in the career of your interest, will push you ahead of the rest. Explore the Virtual Internship Program that allows you to experience 18 different career-based internships at home.
- Academic Honors – Scoring straight As in the subject of your interest is the most obvious and conventional way to demonstrate interest. Whether you are a Science geek or English pundit, prove it in your academics.
- Competitions – Participating in competitions relevant to your subject or career of interest shows that you have the zeal to grow in that particular career. Also, competitive spirit is valued deeply by top colleges.
- Projects – Whether it is a school project or your own personal project, they show your interest in the subject and the fact that you go deep into understanding and solving aspects related to your subject interest.
- Extracurricular Achievements: Top colleges are always looking for well rounded personalities and extracurricular achievements are a great way to demonstrate it. Picking up an extracurricular activity related to your subject interest will not only showcase your personality, but also demonstrate your interest in it. One such profile is of Sreyan Chaterjee who focused on extracurricular activities from early on. He cleared the National Talent Search Examination conducted by NCERT in Grade 8 and received scholarship from Govt of India. He was a part of Intellian quiz in which 500 schools had participated and his school came 2nd, participated in more than 70 competitions including debates, olympiads and extempore. He got into IIM Indore with impressive extracurricular achievements.
- Awards or Scholarships – Awards and scholarships prove that you are a pro at something and hence showcase your learning capacity. If the awards & scholarships are in the subject of your interest, then, it demonstrates interest along with proof.
- Volunteer Work – Community work shows you care about the people around you and are empathetic to them. This aspect of your profile will give it a boost you can’t imagine.Shrishti Asthana launched Project Teach Every Girl, an initiative towards empowering underprivileged girl children by supporting their education. She got into Princeton University with her excellent community service and extracurricular activities.
- Papers & Conferences – Papers in the subject of your choice show your deep thinking capabilities. Conferences too showcase the same along with your communication skills and ability to work in a group.
Watch what Parneet Shergill, Assistant Director of Ashoka University has to say about their admission process.
Who are you as a person? What are your aspirations? What do you hope to achieve with your skills? All of these aspects of your personality need to translate on your profile. As philosophical & trivial as it sounds, this is the biggest differentiating factor on your profile.
So, How Do You Build A Strong Profile?
Just like how you have a pattern, strategy, and time-table for preparing for tests, you need a strategy for a non-academic profile too. Broadly, it must follow the following steps:
- Set Clear Goals – Achieve Clarity with what your goal is in terms of the kind of career you want, the country you want to study in and the type of colleges you will apply to.
- Understand the Requirement – Depending on your career and colleges you want to target, the kind of activities will vary. Most people underestimate this grossly. Each top college looks for different qualities. For example, Harvard will value Intellectual Curiosity whereas MIT will value Hard Work as an attribute. Hence, one has to clearly understand what will work.
- Self-Assess – All the activities you have done till now in school and outside, can add great value to your profile. You need to know where you are already strong, where you may not need to spend more time and where you need to come up with new activities.
- Plan the Activities – Based on the amount of time and money you are willing to invest, the right activities need to get selected.
- Balance – You also need to be careful about achieving balance between studies and non-academic activities. Hence a roadmap must be made that will guide exactly.
This process helps you to finalize your career goal, aspirations, course & country selection, And then plans activities you need to do specifically to target those aspirations.
This process is called PROMAP, which is short for ‘Profile Map’. It has been successfully used by thousands of high school students to create a truly differentiated profile and gain admission to Top Colleges of the Future globally.