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Do brand names really matter in Indian education?

Sanjana Ray
9th Sep 2016
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The evergreen Delhi University announced its first cut-off list for the batch of 2016 a few months ago, and like every year they exceeded our expectations with an average requirement of a whopping 90 percent for almost every subject in the 63 colleges that are affiliated with it. Out of these, Ramjas College has declared the highest academic cut-off in Humanities and Commerce, of which the latter’s beat even SRCC at a 99.25 percent for a Bachelor’s degree.

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Even colleges like Lady Sri Ram College For Women and Hindu College, which have been topping the ranking lists in India, have always dealt a tough bargain with the cut-offs when it came to the Science and Commerce streams, but they would tone it down a trifle bit for the students of Humanities, considering how difficult it is to score high in these subjects. At least that’s how it used to be. However, this year these same colleges have increased their percentages by a wide margin. A student is now required to score no less than a 98.5 for a BA in Psychology and a 98.25 for the same in English.

Although this sounds fairly preposterous, the truth is there are smart individuals who do have a high-range to qualify for these unbelievable cut-offs. However, it isn’t enough just being ‘good’ and getting a 95 percent these days. If you want to get your name enlisted in one of the top six or seven colleges that are associated with DU, then you need to have made a century. But the competition in these examinations can even make an India-Australia Cricket final seem meek in comparison.

The whole nation is clamouring for admission into the crème da le crème of the Indian Education System for their Bachelors. Every day, anxious students are refreshing and re-refreshing the homepage of the official DU website, wondering if their fates will be sealed by two and a half digits. But when judgement does arrive, and many fall short by a mere percent, the punch in the gut they inherently feel is one that they shouldn’t have to experience at this extremely impressionable age.

The truth is that the Education System in our country has become more about the brand name and less about what is actually being taught behind closed doors. Today, if the topper of the class in school makes the cut for an LSR or SRCC for instance, it is almost a given that they would opt to join one of the two because that’s what all the lists have been telling us, right? We’ve developed a trend of caring more about the rank a chosen institute will inhabit on the mainstream magazines rather than carrying out an in-depth survey of the program – be it the content of the course or the professionals teaching it.

The trend to enter one of the ‘elite’ institutions is not limited to Delhi itself. Aspiring artists hurdle between trying for a NIFT or an NID. Potential lawyers debate between an NLSIU or an NUJS. These institutions have spent years building their brands and are tremendously successful, with over several thousand applications hitting their front doors.

However, it is important to note that there are several hundred institutions across the nation that offer quality education that levels, and sometimes even supersedes, what is offered in these select few colleges. However, they have not received their fair share of press or acclaim. These underrated colleges can give you a wholesome experience – much like the top-ranking ones would – and grant you opportunities that can even rival the latter. Becoming a part of their academic programmes will help revaluate your self-worth and make you discover a side to life and education that you’d never have imagined. These programmes will give you the experience of meeting individuals from all scores of life who, like you, have come to learn and experience. You will become your kin, you will be linked with a common love for where you are and for what you bring to the table.

The point of this article is not to dissuade those applying to the top-ranking institutions of our country but rather to remind them that there is a world outside of them which has just as much to offer. The truth is that there are over several thousand applying to these select few places and just a fixed number of seats – barring the many reserved for SC/STs, Religious Minorities, Sports Professionals and more. So if you happen to be unlucky enough to belong to the General Quota and miss your seat by even a thin margin, don’t slum down on yourself. It only means that there are a hundred more doors that opened up for you, and YOU get to make the choice which one to pass through.

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