Admission time is round the corner and you are ready to start a new innings. Many of you may not clear the joint entrance exam or get a seat in the college of your dreams. But don’t lose heart. There are numerous options beyond the hallowed areas of engineering, medicine, business management, science, commerce or economics.
Experts believe it is better to opt for a career that fits you the best, based on your interests, your abilities, your personality, temperament and future goals. Says Shivani Manchanda, a career counsellor at CareerTrack, Mumbai, “If a student pursues a course close to the heart, he or she is likely to attain success much faster.” According to her, there’s a perception problem about certain courses among students and their parents. “Studying social sciences can help a student pick up great communication skills. This can be used in one’s profession in many diverse ways.” Similarly, many liberal arts and humanities courses are held with contempt by many. “Which is why students are pushed to stereotype careers and eventually rot in meaningless jobs,” she adds.
So keep faith in your own abilities and follow your heart. And consider carefully the various options before you. Here, are some of them.
Geography is the study of the earth’s landscape, people, places and environment. Simply put, it is about the world we live in. Geographers study the physical details of the environment, its effects on humans and wildlife, weather and climate patterns, economics and culture. “As a subject, geography is unique because it bridges natural sciences (physical geography) with social sciences (human geography). Physical geography deals with the understanding of the dynamics of physical landscape and the environment while human geography is concerned about the understanding of the dynamics of cultures, societies and economies. With a lot of importance being accorded to social sciences, there is a growing demand for the study of human geography,” says Pannalal Das, associate professor, department of geography, Calcutta University. Geography has evolved from being a subject dealing with maps, rivers and locations to an area that uses technology in many of its specialised areas. “As a consequence, this discipline is in need of trained people who can use the new opportunities that are being presented in the study of geography. For example, geographical positioning system (GPS) helps in finding locations by using the degree, minutes and seconds of an object. We can map locations and movement from one point to the other, using software. With technology we can forecast natural disasters like earthquakes, droughts and floods,” says Barkatullah Khan, associate professor, department of geography, University of Delhi.
Duration: 3 years
Eligibility: Plus Two for bachelors in geography
Top institutes: University of Calcutta (www.caluniv.ac.in ), University of Delhi (www.du.ac.in), Jamia Millia University, New Delhi (www.jmi.nic.in), Institute of Geo-informatics and Remote Sensing, Calcutta (www.igrs-gis.com)
Study abroad: Arizona State University (www.asu.edu ), Boston University (www.bu.edu), Canadian Mennonite University ( www.cmu.ca), McMaster University (www.mcmaster.ca)
Job profiles: Cartographer, surveyor, drafter, GIS specialist, climatologist, researcher, urban planner, school teacher, professor and demographer.
Starting salary: Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000
Development studies is a branch of social science which addresses issues of concern to developing countries. It trains students to work in the development and corporate sectors. Development studies is offered as a specialised postgraduate degree in universities, and, less commonly, as an undergraduate degree. “The main focus of the programme is on developing a perspective on the structural transformation of society. Emphasis is given on a critical understanding of the international political economy, its linkages with the national economy, polity and society in rural and urban areas, and traditional and new forms of resistance to globalisation and marginalisation,” says Parsarathi Mondal, assistant professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Foundation courses in Indian social structure and polity and strong research inputs are built into the programme.
Students pursuing development studies have several choices before them. They can opt for higher studies, prepare for the civil services, join the corporate sector or take up employment with development agencies or research organisations. Those who have a bachelors degree in the arts and sciences are eligible to pursue postgraduation in development studies.
Duration: 2 years
Eligibility: Bachelors degree in arts and science
Top institutes: Tata Institute of Social Sciences (www.tis.edu), Centre for Development Studies (www.cds.edu), Institute of Development Studies, Calcutta (www.idsk.org), Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (www.igidr.ac.in)
Study abroad: School of Oriental and African Studies ( www.soas.ac.uk ), International Institute of Social Sciences (www.iss.nl), Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies (www.hsph.harvard.edu/centers-institutes/population-development )
Starting salary: Rs 25,000 to Rs 45,000
This is a career off the beaten track, meant for those who have a basic understanding that children born with disabilities are “special” and they need teachers who are compassionate, patient and dedicated. “Although mental satisfaction is the biggest incentive in this profession, nowadays the financial reward is quite handsome,” says Ruma Chatterjee, principal, Teachers Training Unit of Manovikas Kendra, a rehabilitation and research institute for the handicapped in Calcutta. With the government flagging off the Right to Education Bill, 2009, which prevents schools from rejecting disabled candidates, special educators are in great demand. “With the National Council of Teacher Education considering special education courses equivalent to general courses, and approved by state school service commissions, there’s an upsurge in interest in special education,” she adds.
Moumita Biswas, a special education teacher at Manovikas Kendra, has seen the rising demand for special education specialists. “When I enrolled for the bachelors degree programme in special education, neither the pay package nor demand for educators was this high. But now most mainstream schools employ special needs teachers,” she says. Students desirous of becoming special needs teachers should get trained at institutes recognised by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). Manovikas Kendra is one of the institutes recognised by RCI.
“Most of our students work in special schools, teacher training schools, mainstream schools under the Sarva Shiksha scheme and in hospitals. Some pursue higher studies in top foreign institutes,” says Chatterjee.
Degree/ diploma / certificate: Bachelor of Education (BEd), diploma in education (DEd)
Duration: 3 years
Eligibility: Plus Two for DEd; Graduate (in any stream) for BEd
Top institutes: National Institute for Mentally Handicaped (www.nimhindia.org ), Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped (ayjnihh.nic.in), Manovikas Kendra (www.manovikas kendra.org ), Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy (www.iicpindia.org ), Calcutta; [For full list, see www.rehabcouncil.nic.in ]
Study abroad: Perkins School for the Blind (www.perkins.org ), San José State University ( www.sjsu.edu/psych ), New York University, Council for the Study of Disability, New york University, (www.nyu.edu/disability.council ), University of Lucerne, Switzerland (www.unilu.ch)
Job profiles: Teachers in mainstream and special schools, counselling centres, hospital outpatient departments, private clinics
Starting salary: Rs 6,000 to Rs 20,000.
Fine arts encompass art forms developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concepts rather than practical applications. If you have a good sense of colour, eye for detail and vast imagination for visual art forms like painting, sculpture, animation and photography, you can explore fine arts. Students who want to pursue fine arts need to enrol for a four-year degree course in any reputed institute. A pass in Plus Two is needed to apply to Visva- Bharati University, Santiniketan, or the Government College of Art and Craft, Calcutta. Some institutes have their own admission tests, which comprise a painting test and a theoretical test followed by an interview. “Creativity is the main criteria for admission to fine arts institutes. If you are a creative person by nature, you are sure to do well here. Just as you can’t be a singer if you don’t have a good voice, you can’t succeed in fine arts if you don’t have creativity,” says Pralay Chakraborty, former professor, head of the department of printmaking, Government College of Art and Craft, Calcutta.
“Opportunities are plenty for fine arts graduates. A lot of our students who specialise in textiles get good offers from blue chip textile mills as designers,” says Rishi Barua, campus principal, Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati University.
Duration: 4 years
Eligibility: Plus Two for honours degree course in fine arts
Top institutes: Visva-Bharati University, (www.visva-bharati.ac.in), Government College of Art and Craft, Calcutta (gcac.edu.in ), Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai University (www.jjiaa.org), The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (www.msubaroda.ac.in)
Study abroad: Royal Academy of Arts (www.royalacademy.org.uk ), London Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/fineart), École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, (www.ensba.fr)
Job profiles: Independent artist, interior designer, textile designer, fashion designer, illustrator, graphic artist, art teacher, art professor, furniture designer
Starting salary: No specific salary; it depends on merit and the area one chooses to work in.
Home science or home economics is a subject that you can apply to bring home and family life in sync with changing surroundings. The programme is open only to women who are taught scientific techniques to cope with day-to-day problems. Students also undertake field projects to learn the applications of scientific techniques. The course helps in overall personality development. “There are many students who do not have a clear vision of which stream to pursue. Home science is for these students as it gives them the opportunity to study both science and humanities,” says professor Deepali Singhee, principal, J.D. Birla Institute, Calcutta.
Apart from J.D. Birla Institute, where the course is affiliated to Jadavpur University, Viharilal College of Education in Alipore is the only college under Calcutta University that offers this course. Since home science covers many fields such as fashion designing, food and nutrition, family resource management and human development, those studying home science can pursue various professions.
The employment opportunities are many. Those who opt for food and nutrition management are hired as dieticians by hospitals while those majoring in human development are absorbed by non-governmental organisations. There are some who become pre-school teachers. Those who are creative join interior design firms or pursue fashion designing, adds Singhi.
Duration: 3 years
Eligibility: Plus Two for honours degree course in home science
Top institutes: J.D. Birla Institute, Calcutta (www.jdbikolkata.in), Viharilal College of Education, Calcutta (www.caluniv.ac.in/academic/home_sc), Institute of Home Economics, Delhi University (www.ihe-du.co.in), SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai (sndt.ac.in)
Job profiles: Pre-school teacher, NGO worker, interior designer, textile designer, fashion designer, dietician
Starting salary: It depends on merit and the area one chooses to work.
Study Abroad: Liverpool John Moores University, UK ( www.livjm.ac.uk ), Home Economics Institute of Australia (www.heia.com.au ).