Factors to choose colleges for Study in India
| Tanima Roy Chowdhury - 01 Feb 2020

In my counselling career I have come across some rather strange reasons for students choosing a particular college.  Sometimes  it has been the presence of an ice cream parlour just outside the campus gate, at other times the student might have wanted to get as far away from home as possible. Now we would agree that these should not be the deciding criterion for choosing your college and also – that what may be a perfect fit for one student might be a nightmare for another.
  So now the question arises that what are the things that one should consider while choosing the perfect undergrad school. One essential that is common to all colleges in India is that you need good marks in the class 12 boards to be eligible to apply. Considering that the marks will be taken care of, we will now delve into the other factors that you need to look into.
1. Know the categories of universities and decide the one best suited to your academic goal
  In India we have the following types:
 Central Universities – DU, JNU, Jamia Milia Islamia, AMU, Visva- Bharati etc. These are established by an Act of Parliament and the students admitted are from all parts of the country. The college is funded by the central government.
 Deemed to be Universities – BITS,  SRM, Shiv Nadar University etc. These have their status accorded by the UCG Act of 1956. They are autonomous in charge of their own curriculum and syllabus. They too function at the national level.
 State Universities – These are established by the State Acts and funded by the state governments so the intake is mostly regional.
 Private Universities – Manipal, BITS, SRM, Sharda, Amity, Ashoka etc. These are set-up and funded by private organisations, trusts etc so are more flexible but at the same time are probably much  more expensive than the other category universities.
2. University / College 
accreditation and rankings
  A good position on a well-known ranking list can be a useful pointer for the selection of a particular college. Ranking is a relative assessment so should be used only while comparing similar colleges.While accreditation, which is a more objective assessment( based on teaching, research, curriculum, infrastructure etc) is to be used while comparing colleges of varying standards.
3. Availability of basic facilities
 While shortlisting colleges look up these factors from the official websites and make a comparative study. This will actually help you to narrow down your choice considerably.
 Location – Consider the ease of commuting and distance involved.
 Courses offered – Check if the college has the program you need to meet your academic goals. It is always a good idea to check the student intake, faculty and number of related programs as this gives you an idea of the importance given by the college to the program. Remember all colleges have some programs which are their strengths and at the same time others which are not so strong.
Laboratory Facilities – If you are choosing a practical based program it is necessary to take a look at the laboratory infrastructure and what type of equipment is available for the students to work with.
 Food and accommodation –     Important if it is not in your home town as you will be spending the next 3/4 years there and need to be comfortable at the end of the day when classes are over. Check if campus accommodation is available which can be a problem with overcrowding.
 Basic infrastructure – Is regular transport available? Is the college located in the suburbs? Are there shops on campus? Are there sports facilities, library with internet access etc.?
Safety and security of the students – This is a growing concern in the current scenario and needs to be checked out properly.
 Beyond academics – Are workshops, guest lectures, industry contact programs, seminars, debates and discussions (which provide the students a much-needed exposure to the outside world) a regular part of the curriculum?. 
4. Financials and the cost of study
 You need to calculate your total financial expenditure for the program per year, which will include tuition fees, food  and accommodation, travel and other expenses. Look into the Scholarships available from the college and also if you can avail of a  student loan if required for the program of your choice.
5. Career cell-
 Most colleges have a career cell and usually say that 100% placement assistance is provided. However this may not translate into every student getting a job at the end of the graduation program. So it is important to find out the answers to these questions:
• How active is the career cell?
•  Does the college have a placement week? 
•  What is the actual percentage of students placed from the campus? 
•  What are the companies that come for recruitment to the campus?
• What is the average pay package offered by these recruiting companies?
•  Are internship opportunities available during the program?
6. Miscellaneous but equally important deciding factors
 The brand name of the college, the landmark achievements by faculty and students, publications, alumni association, student exchange programs, recreational activities such as clubs, societies etc all play a role in the final decision taken on choice of a college.
7. Climate
An important factor that one often tends to overlook is the climate. A student from a warmer climate may not be comfortable in Delhi winters while a student from hills might not be able to adjust to the pollution of busy metro cities. This will make life for that student all the more stressful away from home and he may not be able to realise his full potential.
8. Shortlisting of colleges
 Let us imagine your colleges as a three tiered cake. The top chocolate layer has the top ranking and best colleges of your choice - which are also difficult to get into. The middle vanilla layer has the colleges you have a reasonable chance of getting into and would be happy to study in. The third orange layer has the safety net colleges which you know you will easily get into. There is no absolute rule but the best recommendation is to choose  3 to 4 colleges from each layer and apply to them - which then keeps you covered for  the whole range.
 In conclusion let us say, when you do all this detective work trying to find the best college suited to your needs, keep in mind that your college education is probably the most important investment you will be making for your future and it is worth spending time, energy or seeking advice to ensure that you do make the right choice after all.

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