Solving the Course-College Selection Dilemma

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Updated on Mar 18, 2021 15:57 IST

For a student, there is no decision more important than choosing the right course to study in the right college. Here are some tips to help you decide your next steps.

By Kunal Sandhu

College/ Course Selection

As a high school student, the end of the Board Exams bring with it uncertainty of college applications, entrance exams, course selection, career choices and next steps.

In today’s world of technology-enabled education and increasing awareness, students are flooded with choices – from traditional careers in medicine, engineering, education to alternate careers such as bloggers, professional hackers, app developers, social influencers – the opportunities are endless. While it is great to have so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to make the right career decision. When I ask a group to young school graduates today what they would like to do in their careers, few opt for traditional professions that were aspirational just a few years ago. This shows a great shift in the mindset of the students and the opportunities they have available.

For a student, there is no decision more important than choosing the right course to study in the right college. There is often parental and peer pressure to choose professional courses against the student’s better judgement, leading to incorrect and wrong-fit decisions that leave the student feeling unfulfilled and unhappy and often dropping out mid-way to do something else. Here are some tips to help you decide your next steps.


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Know yourself.

No one student is the same and career choices are not straightforward. A career decision should be based on your personal combination of behaviours, motivations, aptitude and interests. A good way to gauge these parameters is to take a career assessment that aggregates and tests all four parameters and generates best-fit recommendations. Contextual Career Assessments geared towards Indian students provide personalised outputs. Their recommendations are relevant and holistic and give you a fair idea of your options and the best-fit courses to study.  

It is important to understand that while no two students are the same, a broad understanding of how you approach tasks and projects in your daily life can go a long way in deciding the best-fit subjects, courses and ultimately careers.

Understanding how you approach schoolwork and daily tasks can go a long way in figuring out the kind of career profile that will work well for you.

•    Do you enjoy working independently or as a part of a team?
•    Are the first to organize a class activity or do you prefer to participate once it is set-up?
•    Do you like to spend time researching on topics?

Understanding your career inclinations is key to making clear decisions.

Those who are happiest in their careers are the ones who are doing what they love. In order to figure out what you enjoy doing, it’s important to understand your inclination and profile. If you are someone who likes to come up with ideas and explores new ways of doing things, then you are more of an Innovator. Careers in Pure Science & Research, Architecture & Planning, Software Design might be a good fit for you. If you are someone who enjoys working on making ideas and concepts come to life, then you are more of a Builder. Careers in Engineering, Technology, Production, Management and Operations are some that you can explore. After an idea has been actioned, if you are someone who enjoys creating awareness about it, you are more of a Communicator. Careers in Hospitality, Community Service, Media & Entertainment may interest you. On the other hand, if you are someone who likes to be involved in all stages from ideation to execution, then you’re more of an Enabler. Careers in Legal, Finance, Business Administration would be a good for you.

There is no defined answer and no student can exclusively enjoy doing tasks in one particular way. This indicative profiling is meant to help you take your own decisions based on your personal inclinations rather than what your parents and peers thinks will be a good fit for you.  Let me give you an example, if you are a Science student who is academic and enjoys studying theoretical Physics and Chemistry, the obvious choice to everyone might be to do Engineering. However, Pure Science & Research can be a better fit for those who have the aptitude for Science but are not interested in the mechanics of Engineering.

Choose the course over the college.

The world over, students choose the course over the college, except in India. Our parents push us to choose a college that is aspirational or would look better on the CV, and the college tag follows us around for a while. After extensive research and data from over 1,00,000 Indian students, we have found that those who choose the course over the college tend to be more satisfied than those who pick the college over the course. It is therefore recommended, that one looks for the course of their choice and then decides the college that meets their personal, familial and other expectations. For example, if you want to be an author, it is better to take a course in English or Journalism since that prepares you better to understand the nuances of writing for different audiences.

What happens if you don’t make the right choice?

The world is full of people who started out thinking that they wanted to do one thing, but ended up doing something completely different. If you choose a subject that you really like to study and don’t to pursue it in the future, that’s perfectly fine. If you do end up choosing a subject that you don’t really like, it won’t hamper your chances of success in the future, it can however, be traumatic to pursue a course that’s not for you for 3-4 years just to complete your degree. It’s therefore best to take your time, do a career assessment and understand your options before making a choice.   

Read More: Courses after 12th in Arts and Humanities

Today, we have more opportunities than we could even imagine a few years ago. You also have all the tools at your disposal to guide you to make the right decision. Make the most of them and take ownership of your future.

About the Author:

Kunal Sandhu

Kunal Sandhu is Founder & CEO of a specialised student assessment company. Kunal is an Electronics Engineer from Delhi Technological University and holds an MBA in Finance & Marketing from XLRI, Jamshedpur. His company CogitoHub uses predictive analytics and machine learning to help students and educators realise their true potential and perform better.



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