Foolish Choices by Students/Parents on Education are Negatively Impacting Families, Industries and India

When it comes to course selection, most of the students are picking one or two popular streams. These popular streams fluctuate dramatically because of high expectations (followed by mass joining) and a few years later students lose hopes when the jobs don’t materialize. At that time, the courses become untouchable.

It seems that once an educational stream is perceived as providing lucrative career opportunities, most people blindly enroll in that course without properly assessing it.

Popular streams fluctuating in the history:

  • A few years back BCA and Bio-Tech courses were much hyped about, but are not popular today.
  • MCA was popular in 2005 – 2008: Out of 2.25 lakh graduates and postgraduates passed out of colleges in Andhra Pradesh in 2008, 1.8 lakhs were either engineers or MCAs. The rest of the 45 thousand included MBAs, medicos and others. In 2005, over 90 per cent of the top 1,500 ICET rankers opted for the Master of Computer Application (MCA) course.

    What happened in 2008 when they came out? But in 2008, when they came out of the colleges, not even 10% of them were able to find jobs. Even for those who found jobs, they were the primary targets during layoffs when their employer lose a project, since they are trainees (not billable resources) in the organization.

    In 2007 admissions, only 8 MBA colleges (including university colleges) could close admissions for general category (boys) with students ranked below 10,000 in ICET and just one college could close below ICET rank of 1,000. While in case of MCA, more than 200 colleges could close admissions below 10,000 ICET rank. Further, out of these MCA colleges, 10 could close admissions with students below 1,000 ICET rank. As you can see, MCA course was vastly preferred over MBA by the brightest students who appeared for ICET.

  • MBA Finance was popular for some time: Within MBA itself, when it comes to electing the specialization, many make a mistake by choosing finance as their option. For example, if we take the case of Osmania University campus, we can find 56 out of 72 students who opted for finance as one of their major in 2008. When the stock market rose from 7,000 to 21,000 between 2005-08, there was a shortage of people to support the business in mutual funds, lending, brokerages and banking companies. However, in February 2009, the stock market has fallen by 58% to around 9,000 from a peak of 21,000 (seen in January 2008).

    With the market ranking – the existing workforce was reduced. For all those who graduated with MBA Finance in 2008 and 2009, the job prospects in finance industry were bleak. They had to face tough times in finding jobs, since finance people will be mostly misfits in other industries.

  • Engineering was popular for quiet some time: With an increased number of people showing interest on engineering – number of seats exploded exponentially. From 9335 seats in 1995 to 3.38 lakh seats in 2013. In the last few years, people realized that the quality of engineering is degraded (75% couldn’t get job in 2013). Lakhs of seats went vacant. Now suddenly the shift has changed to CA.
  • Today rat race for CA course: Today, we can see many students are opting for CA courses. The enrollment for CA increased by more than 100 percent in the last few years. This again is turning out to be another EAMCET rat race.

Why does this happen?
The reason for this imbalance is a result from the lack of smart decision making from the student community and the parents. These poor choices have a negative impact on the availability of quality human resources with the right skill sets and qualifications for the various industries that make up India.

Hype – The “Education industry” has skillfully exploited the ignorance and gullibility of the students/parents with the help of media, by investing hundreds of crores in advertising. Typically, media publicizes the average salary of pass outs of 5-10 top colleges and gives a wide publicity through first page news reports. Unfortunately, many innocent parents/students come to the wrong conclusion that anyone doing a certain degree will make at least that much of the salary when they complete that course.

Group Think – Students are selecting the courses blindly, in masses based on group thinking i.e. just doing what most other people are doing without thinking. Many students find comfort and security in taking a course chosen by majority of their friends and social circle. They think that, if so many are choosing this career option, then it may be the right choice.

Not assessing the capabilities (suitability for their career) – Students tend to join the courses considering either the hot sectors or what the majority of them are joining, irrespective of their skills and potential.

Not thinking smart – Students/parents have failed to judge the capability of the industries in creating employment. In many career options, tens of thousands of students have to compete with each other for a few hundreds jobs when they complete the course and enter the job market. While, in many industries there are not enough good people taking up the required educational courses.

This trend of choosing the college degrees and courses without proper assessment and sound logic will cripple the competitiveness of the industry at the national and international level. This will have a serious impact on overall growth of the state and country. This is a structural issue, where college educated population is not able find suitable jobs caused by the mismatch of education degrees with the available career opportunities.

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