Battling for Admissions – Do they look at Marks or Talent?

Posted on May 14, 2010 in Education

Ridhi Rajpal:

The time of the year is here when students from all across the country are now looking forward to enrolling themselves in undergraduate courses. While some are aiming to get into colleges and courses that they have always dreamed of, others are simply waiting for destiny to play its game so that they land up in some decent college and course on the basis of their average marks. This reminds me of the time when I myself had passed class 12th, and was searching the internet for the dreaded cut-offs of the previous year.

I had one thought in my mind then, and it still prevails today — Why do they constantly look out for how many marks the student has? Why don’t they look out for what abilities the student possesses?

The debate has been going on for a very long time. Is it good to give or deny admissions to students in particular courses on just the basis of their marks, or should one find out more about the student’s personality and skills to see how much more scope and potential the student has in that particular field or line? One could score a 95% in class 12 boards and manage to get into an English Honours course in the top rated colleges of the country. But is that child, who has just learnt school literature and reproduced in exams, better than the one who has been able to write books and novels, or produce more content for the student magazines but did not get a 90+%? My point is, do colleges bother to look at the portfolio that the student has managed to build over the years?

Some might say that ECA (Extra-Curricular Activities) is a good option. For those who are not strong academically, but are good in any kind of sport or extracurricular activity, the ECA quota proves to be a good platform. The deal is simple — you show your talent, and if they like it, they will give you the course of your choice in return. Only one condition — you need to dedicate a lot of time to the relevant society’s activities during the three years you spend in college.

But then how many people actually clear the ECA? There is just a small chunk of people who apply for this category, and even smaller numbers that actually make it to their choice of courses. What happens to the larger section of people?

I feel that the problem somewhere goes down to the primary level. If schools start enhancing and nurturing the talent of children, then all schools together can collectively look for ways in which the students are guided to the right path, when it comes to choosing a career. Just like placements take place in colleges, why can’t we have colleges coming to school and hunting for good potential students? There are aptitude tests that take place in education fairs, then why can’t we have those tests taking place in schools too?

Some kind of foundation courses or collaboration projects should serve as a good solution. If a child for instance knows after class 10 that she has to become a fashion stylist, then instead of just doing a regular Arts program in class 11 and 12, a foundation course simultaneously in fashion styling, or some kind of inclusion of the subject in the program in class 11 and 12 should be good. The foundation courses can be in collaboration with relevant colleges or universities, the faculty of which can come and teach the children at school level itself. In this manner, the kids will at least have a sense of the career and the field that they have chosen. They will have more practical training instead of mundane theoretical ones, and they will know that they have to fight in the industry by showing better skills, and not by mugging up information and reproducing that in exams.

Enhancement of skills is the need of the hour, because a professional environment needs more skills and smartness on the part of people, instead of how many books they have managed to read or how many tests they have managed to clear. If colleges just start respecting this other side of a student’s life and personality, then the chances of getting more efficient and happy professionals later are great. Otherwise, workplaces in the country will just be full of people working there because they are qualified for the job, not because they are extremely good at it, or because they enjoy doing it.