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What to Look for in a College [Part 1]

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By Waled Aadnan:

Have you just graduated from school? Are you desperately looking for the college with the right combination? We believe we can help.

Every year, more and more students pass out from schools with seemingly increasing number of marks to their credit, in search of elusive careers to be built at one of a confusing myriad of colleges. Registrations, entrance exams, cut-offs — there is a lot of information that a prospective college student needs to consider these days in order not to miss out on the best offer. Without beating about the bush any longer, I list out a number of factors to be taken into account while making that all-important decision:

1. Choosing your Discipline: That is the first question facing a school pass-out. If you have decided, you are among the select few. If you haven’t, then discuss with family, relatives, friends and teachers and most importantly, decide for yourself a shortlist of subjects you would like to study for your graduations. Then make a hierarchy of the same and go about looking for the best college that teaches those subjects given the marks you have received.

2. Proximity: It is important to find a good college in the city where you live. Few people want to voluntarily leave home to hostel food and the saga of introductions. Make sure that if you are changing cities, there is a marked advantage in doing so.

3. Environment: The environment at a college is an important factor. Not everyone likes rigid schedules and if you are one of them, opt for institutions that are relatively liberal about things like attendance. Besides, campus democracy is vital. You might have “I hate politics” as your political view on Facebook but that does not mean you will never need help in your college. Colleges with a healthy and democratic setup not only allow you to voice your grievances but more often than not, that democracy is carried over to the classroom and learning can actually become a two-way discourse. Apart from that, try to ascertain how strong the college’s policy is regarding issues such as ragging or even smoking on campus.

4. Placements: For those going into professional courses, it is equally important to estimate the academic worth of the college as well as its placement records. Often, big-brand colleges offer decent placements despite not being the best when it comes to the classroom activities. But for those interested in academics, this may not be a deciding factor.

5. Academic Record: All said and done, we go to college to study. And what better barometer of a college’s academics than its result history of results. It must of course be kept in mind that not all universities are equally liberal with marking, so marks by themselves may not provide a correct picture while comparing colleges affiliated to different universities. But a college’s performance vis-a-vis other colleges under the same parent university can help you frame a correct picture. Unfortunately, this exercise may often have to rely on word-of-mouth and general perceptions.

6. Infrastructure: Do not forget to find out about the infrastructure each college on your shortlist boasts of. Facilities for sports, laboratories, hostels, canteens become an integral part of college life and a college not providing the above may see you turn into a dull Jack.

7. Faculty: Many colleges have websites that list the faculty that will be teaching you. Although degrees aren’t an all-encompassing benchmark, but they provide an easy starting point while comparing faculties of different colleges. Remember, it’s not only the college accepting you. You too should accept the college. After all, three or more crucial years are to be spent there.

8. Rankings: Many news magazines and other media release rankings for colleges for different streams on an all-India basis. Besides, city-wise comparisons are also provided in major metros. India Today’s rankings have been a handy tool for a generation of Indian students. Take time however to read the rankings, i.e. understand what factors were taken into account to arrive at them. The report should generally have a part explaining the same.

In the next part, we will deal with the perennial debate regarding academics vis-a-vis extracurriculars. In the final segment of this series, we will discuss what options await you if you haven’t done that well in the last examination. As you will see, the door is not necessarily shut on your dreams.


You must be to comment.
  1. Udit

    Dear Waled, thank you for information. It was very much required for me and eagerly waiting for your next sequence articles

  2. ghost

    WoW! Thank you for this post It was soooo helpful. I wonder why my brain couldn’t think of such common factors to look into a college, I must be dumb. // Sarcasm off

  3. Zafar Satyavan

    The key here is EMPLOYABILITY vs LEARNING. College/University is important to get the basics right.. beyond that it is necessary to engage with the discipline and go past the data – information stage to actually know something about a discipline. #7 is MUCH more important than realized as spending time with someone real speeds up the learning curve.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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