Does your alma mater matter when you go looking for a job? For your first placement, it does. Some colleges attract the best employers. Others take on their alumni as teachers in order to be able to claim 100 per cent placement. Even the junior school you have been to counts. At the interview, you should discreetly drop the name of your school — given that it is worth talking about.
This means that college admission time comes with a great deal of stress and tension. (School admission is an equally big problem in India. But you’ll face that not as a student but as a mom or pop.)
Curiously, when it comes to college, money is a big issue in the US. There are a couple of reasons for that. People enter B-schools and their equivalent after a few years of work. They are expected to have saved enough money to finance their education. It never happens that way. But education loans are easier to get too. In India, the family is still expected to cough up; work experience is only now being recognised as a plus, and families think that they should not impose an education loan repayment burden on a “child” even as he is starting his corporate career.
This year, there have been some ominous signals from the Indian job market. The good news first: several surveys have reported that salaries in India will increase and the increments will be among the highest in the world. According to human-resource consulting firm Aon Hewitt, the increase will be as much as 11.9 per cent. A later report by HR consulting firm Mercer puts the increase slightly lower at 8.3 per cent. But this is the highest in Asia and more than China’s 6.5 per cent, which puts it in No. 2 spot.
Now for the bad news:
• According to S.S. Mantha, chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), 138 professional colleges have applied for permission to close down this year. This includes 65 B-schools. There are no students and no jobs.
• In an article published a few days back, a business morninger estimates that 45 per cent of the 9,00,000 students who passed out in 2011 as MBAs, engineers and MCAs from institutes approved by the AICTE are still jobless. The number is, of course, ridiculous; if there had been so many fresh graduates unemployed, they would have provided fodder for half-a-dozen campaigns by Anna Hazare. (One should realise that such reports are not uncommon at placement time as companies try to beat down salary expectations and gullible journalists fall for half-truths.) But it is true, however, that the class of 2011 has been hit by the economic slowdown.
• Indian companies are recruiting in a big way abroad as they globalise. At the same time, the US and the UK are putting fresh barriers to the entry of Indian workers (IT staff and nurses, for instance). Though the absolute numbers aren’t high, these are regarded as top-end jobs. Even CEOs of Indian subsidiaries are being sourced from local pools of managers.
In the US, both parents and students are worrying much more about college admission. Can we extrapolate that to India? Perhaps yes. But the Princeton Review — which talks of the tougher times — has other lists that should keep you in good humour.
A sampler from the 2011 rankings:
Most beer drinkers: Pennsylvania State, University of New Hampshire, Providence College.
Most hard liquor drinkers: Providence College, University of Georgia, Tulane University.
Where students study the least: West Virginia University, University of Maryland, State University of New York at Albany.
In 2012, Harvey Mudd College has beaten MIT as the school where students study the most. That’s where you should head for.
Success, thy name is Mudd.
THE CRISIS DAYS
College admission worries and wants
How many colleges will you (your child) apply to? (%)
One to four 29
Five to eight 48
Nine to 12 18
Thirteen + 16
One to four 30
Five to eight 51
Nine to 12 16
Thirteen + 3
What is your stress level during the admission process?
Very High 26
Very Low 0
Very High 24
Very Low 0
What are your top choices?
Source: The Princeton Review College Hopes & Worries Survey Report