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Does The ‘Name-Brand’ Of Your College Really Impact Your Career?

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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.

college brands collage

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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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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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.

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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
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