By Sakshi Jain:
A year ago, I was told that if I managed to get admission in Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi, it would be an inordinate accomplishment of my life; the reason being its ‘name-brand’. However, I was oblivious to the gravity of the upshots of studying in colleges with ‘name-brand’. In a brief period of time, I discovered the first upshot – a stimulus response of awe and wonder that my college’s name, LSR potentially generated. The “Ohhh!” by colleagues who asked where I was studying, their exaggerated amazement, instilled a subconscious confidence in me while answering the question.
The ballyhoo about ‘name-brand’ colleges is not just restricted to Delhi University but spread across the country when it comes to IITs, NITs, IIMs or National Law Schools. Every year, during admissions in Delhi University, it is a common phenomenon to see students preferring a college’s name over the choice of subject. Such cases point towards the overblown air around ‘name-brand’ colleges.
The Profundity Of ‘Name-Brand’
Students in ‘name-brand’ colleges experience an identity transformation whereby personal identity becomes subservient to college created identity. This is seen as enrichment of self-identity rather than deprivation. The so-called name of the college channels the success of students in procuring the best of the plethora of opportunities that come their way. Students experience a sense of acceptability in society with the ‘name-brand’ which stimulates their confidence. When exposed to the array of opportunities outside the world of college, there is a preferential pick that these students benefit. It starts with seeking internship prospects at the college level. The common perception of students from branded colleges as the cream of the crowd leads various organizations to giving them an easier access. Recounting my very recent experience of an interview for internship at Times of India, it was evident that my college’s name weighed down the importance of the written test that was supposed to be the deciding factor in procuring this chance.
Similar to the altering consumer behaviour trends in the market, marked by a sharp increase in percentage of consumers looking for branded products, the job market has experienced the same shift in the recent years. According to a survey published in Economic times, 57 per cent of respondents believe brand reputation of educational institutes play an important role in job placement. “It’s widely seen that professionals from certain branded institutes have an edge in gaining entry to many marquee companies. Branding has become an important tool for colleges or Business schools to stay ahead of the curve by clearly communicating this differentiation to students as their USP (Unique Selling Proposition),” said Kamal Karanth, Managing Director, Kelly Services India. It is not just limited to procurement of opportunities but also preferential treatment in terms of higher pay-scale and a greater leap in career pursuits. “Despite unparalleled talent, a friend from IP University was deprived a hike in salary while his colleague got a raise only because he was from IIT,” said Navneet Arora, a student at LSR.
As impressive as it may sound to the beneficiaries, the picture on the other side is gruesome. The students of ‘non-branded’ colleges often suffer in terms of grabbing top-notch opportunities. A perpetually common perception of incompetence for such students prevails in our society, leading them to fall into the trap of self-depreciation and identity-crisis. “The ‘name-brand’ of colleges results in establishing a continuing cycle of preferential treatment as evident by their attraction of more brand names and sponsorships from either government or private enterprise which enable them to provide the students with better faculty, infrastructure and facilities, while students at non-branded colleges lack academic exposure due to shortage of funds,” said Vishishth Malhotra, a law student at IP University.
Much often, discrimination on the grounds of ‘name-brand’ makes it difficult to unleash the hidden talent in the crowd. “The discrimination is a fallacy as admissions into colleges hinges on board exam marks which aren’t sufficient to prove someone’s proficiency, numerous other factors work against students in their choice of colleges such as inhibiting tuition fee, proximity etc,” said Smriti Chaudhary, another student from LSR.
Aptitude Vs. Name-Brand
While the profundity of ‘name-brand’ leads us into categorizing people with identity boon and identity crisis, there are some who believe that the power of one’s knowledge and adroitness can outweigh the profundity of ‘name-brand’ of colleges. “Students from ‘non-branded’ colleges have a mind-set of suffrage, if they hone their skills and are brave enough to answer back or gain enough knowledge to prove themselves to be at par with the others, they won’t even think about benefiting or suffering,” said Bhargavi Sinha, student at Maitreyi College, Delhi University. Yashasvi Mittal, student at Northern Engineering College, Delhi, feels that “brand name is just a hoax, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft epitomizes this as he is not from a so-called ‘name-brand’ college.”
Despite the clashes of opinions, I feel that both aptitude and ‘name-brand’ complement each other. Aptitude coupled with ‘name-brand’ provides an easier access to gaining opportunities in career pursuits. Brand name of colleges undoubtedly add to our CVs and offer a ticket to the best possible opportunities, but the judicious utilization of those opportunities rests on our aptitude. It is often seen that not everyone occupying the seats of top-notch colleges are equally proficient. Thus, carrying the name of their college might seem like a burden to them for it can’t be complemented by their aptitude. However, the stereotype of judging a person’s competence on the basis of ‘name-brand’ of colleges is ridiculous. The obliteration of such stereotypes assumes profound importance as they tend to create societal norms which obstruct the flow of requisite resources to non-branded institutions which hold the potential of nurturing the crude capabilities of students.
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