You have been nurturing dreams about your future throughout school. Once out of school, you look out for the best courses and colleges that will help you realise those dreams. After picking the right course, the next step is to find a good institute. Of course, you are spoilt for choice but there are many mediocre and even fake institutes out there, so choosing the right college is not always easy.
Do extensive research on the institutes that offer the course of your choice. This should be done well in advance so that you can find out about the entrance tests, if any, and find time to prepare. Once, you are sure they are recognised institutions, check your list against the criteria of faculty, infrastructure, tuition fee, placements and platform for extra-curricular activities. Take help from your teachers, parents, friends, counsellors and experts in the field. Be cautious while taking help from recruiting agents.
The UGC has listed around 20 fake colleges operating in India, you can access the list here http://www.ugc.ac.in/inside/fakealerts.html. Along with U.G. course, many colleges offer UGC-sponsored add-on courses, apart from other special certificate courses. Also check the availability of educational loans and schemes that suit you.
Once you have narrowed your list down to one or two institutes; here's what you need to do:
Check the institute's website
Talk to alumni or current students.
Visit the college personally and, if possible, have a chat with the H.O.D of your department or other faculty members.
Be prepared to adjust to the social life on campus. Anitha*, who joined a fashion institute in Chennai, quit after a few weeks because she couldn't adjust to the campus and hostel life. Those who join colleges in other places face initial difficulties of staying away from family and home, but use this chance to learn to live on your own.
Where does it go wrong?
“During my search for an institute to learn animation, I came across 7-8 places that were more into making profit than providing education. It was shocking to learn that many private institutes are fake. Though I had done my research, I fell into the trap of an institute in Bengaluru, which has 30 branches in India. The coaching was very poor; I managed to finish my project with the help of friends, books and online tutorials,” said Siddharth* who finally joined a leading institution.
Such experiences bring out the fact that some educational institutions are run like business houses and family fiefdoms (as pointed out by the HRD Ministry's review team). The quest for knowledge, time and space for creative activities, platform for social interactions and collective initiatives; all that gives life to a college campus takes a backseat.In an attempt to flaunt high academic performance and woo more admissions each year, the management tightens the noose around the students; tying them to never-ending exam cycles and stifling classrooms. When decisions regarding academics are taken solely by people who have very little understanding of education and the students' needs, the college life that should nourish and contribute to the overall development of a student turns into a mere mechanical process in the chase for marks and a flawless attendance record.
The business of education
Many colleges lure students with advertisements and websites that promise much. Once caught in the trap, most students are doomed to spend the period of the course there because it is unlikely that they'll get a refund of the exorbitant amount paid in the name of donation or capitation fee or whatever name they choose to call it. “I came to know of this college from a friend. I checked their website and I was quite impressed. But once I joined I realised that teaching quality, infrastructure and everything else was far inferior to what we had expected,” says Anupam*, a student from Chennai.It is true that there are exceptions to this case. Many private colleges have far better facilities, highly qualified faculty and an academic structure catering to the students' needs. And neither can we undermine the role played by private institutions through the years in making education accessible to many while contributing to enhancing its quality.
Many students, especially those who go outside their city or state for higher studies, fall prey to the tricks of recruiting agents who give them false information while pocketing commissions from students as well as the college. “I was looking for admission for architecture course in a college in the city. Through one of my relatives, I got in touch with an agent. The actual fee was two lakh and the agent asked us to pay an extra two lakh as donation. He made us wait for two months saying that the admissions have not started. But, finally when I went to the college and enquired, the classes had actually began.”
Another issue is that the tuition fee paid during admission may not cover the many extra expenses you incur during the course and this may be much higher than the amount you are prepared to pay. Nandhini, an M.A. student from a city college, complains that the management squeezes money out of them at every possible chance. “We have to pay a caution deposit of Rs.6000, which is to be refunded when we leave the hostel. Every time we return after summer vacation, we are asked to pay this amount in the name of re-joining the hostel. So we should get Rs.18, 000 when we leave college. But students are made to sign a register stating that they are willingly forgoing the caution deposit for charity.” By discouraging any collective efforts to question the absurd rules, the managements make sure that their control in the campuses is complete.
The way out
Once you realise you have landed in the wrong place, it's better to move on unless you face economic constraints. Some autonomous and affiliated colleges insist that the students pay the complete fee for the year (and sometimes for the whole course)to issue the transfer certificate, making it difficult for them to leave the college. In Anna University, you can apply for transfer only after completing the first semester. Transfers are generally permitted from Government/Government-aided colleges to non-autonomous, affiliated colleges and vice versa. Transfer between two autonomous colleges is not allowed, though exceptional cases will be considered. (For more details check:
If the students are eligible to join the course, they can seek admission in another college after getting a no-objection certificate from the previous institute. “Many students switch colleges when their parents get transferred. If they have completed a semester, after furnishing their attendance record they could continue in the new college from the next semester. But they will have to write the exams for the previous semester if their name has to appear in the rank list. If not, they will get only a course completion certificate,” says Dr. Jothi Kumaravel, Vice Principal and H.O.D of Commerce, Ethiraj College for Women. “If there are vacancies, the students can switch courses before the date of the closure of admission prescribed by the university, she added.