Career Guidance, Employment & Study Abroad Counselling in India: Problems and Solutions
The youth in India is going through a lot of problems – Career Conundrum, Unemployability, Skill Gap, Education Scams, and Complexity & Lack of Transparency (and Credibility) within the Study Abroad Domain.
Problems with Career Counselling for High School Students in India
To begin with, we need to admit that the education system in India has got several faults. The school system in our country is less about “education” and more about “certification”.
“A child’s mind should be set free — free to explore and to discover the connections between all the beautiful, and indeed ugly, things he or she learns about this universe.”
– Dev Lahiri, Retired Principal, Welham Boys School, Dehradun (Source: The Indian Express)
Not everyone gets to make it to the elite and top colleges like IIT or IIM. So, the counseling system is very critical.
Many schools affiliated to IB, CIE, CBSE, and ISC boards have certified counselors on their payroll. Additionally, they also conduct seminars, workshops, and special counseling sessions for Grade 10 & 12 students, in collaboration with external career guidance counselors and/or college admissions counselors.
But, the majority of schools in India are not equipped to handle career counseling and college admission guidance needs for all of their students properly.
“Recent reports indicate that the biggest concern for schools is the lack of career counselling cells that enable counsellors to guide students.
Around 85% of students are concerned about which option to choose for higher education and 92% don’t get any career-related guidance from their schools.”
– Jaideep Gupta, Founder, Univariety (Source: India Today)
Due to technological advancements, there are a lot of new job industries and job roles which didn’t even exist a decade back. With the boom in the number of options, students often become confused about which path to choose.
The problem of choosing a suitable career is more acute in India as the concept of career counseling is still not very commonly accepted.
“Parents even now force their kids to pick their future only from three or four conventional options including engineering, medical, and MBA. In Tier II and III the problem is even worse. This lack of awareness of career options also leads to confusion and wrong choices.”
– Arshi Khan, Founder, CollegeKhabri (Source: YourStory)
A recent survey on career option awareness among 10,000 Indian students has revealed that a staggering 93% of the students aged 14 to 21 were aware of just seven career options though there are more than 250 different types of job options available in India.
According to researchers, India has a variety of 250 career options available across 40 domains covering 5,000 job types.
So, there is a clear lack of awareness among Indian students regarding their future career options.
“Very often we come across students who have a broad idea of what they wish to do but don’t have the resources to plan it end to end.
In such a scenario parents are often found to vary of such plans and this leads to parents asserting their own choices“.
– Prateek Bhargava, Founder, Mindler (Source: India Today)
Problems with Career Counselling for College Students in India
The scenario in colleges is much worse. Apart from a few premium colleges, there is hardly a support system for the students in terms of career guidance, soft skills development, job search guidance, and counseling for higher studies abroad.
If you look at the recent statistics for the India job market, more than 80% engineering graduates in India are unemployable (Source: India Today) due to the lack of technical skills (and soft skills) and 94% of engineering graduates are not fit for hiring (Source: Economic Times).
The scenario is more or less similar in the MBA space as well. Only 7% of MBA graduates in India are employable and the remaining 93% of MBA graduates struggle to find jobs and/or get jobs with average salaries in the range of Rs. 8,000 – 10,000 per month (Sources: Indian Express and Economic Times).
The worst part – Nearly 85% of higher education candidates not equipped to make career decisions and struggle to get jobs (Source: Economic Times). The skill gaps between business requirements and as available from university graduates are terribly out of phase resulting in serious issues of ‘Employability’ for freshers from colleges (Source: Shiksha.com).
Hence, career roadmap development, practical training (for sharpening technical skills), soft skills training, and grooming for job hunting are extremely critical for college students and fresh graduates.
Limitations of Abroad (Overseas) Education Counselling in India
Several high school students, college students (and working professionals) opt for higher studies abroad. This is another area where aspirants face a lot of problems.
In India, the majority of overseas education agencies work on a commission-based model.
“Fundamentally speaking, the moment a counselor or agent has a connection or commission with a school, the basic premise of the process is broken in our philosophy. You are no longer an unbiased party – which is what a counsellor and a consultant has to be. It just turns out to be unethical and purely driven by increasing numbers.
The aspect of sound advice and suggestion, more often than not, get compromised in such settings. So, if an applicant gets this inkling of a doubt, our suggestion is to steer clear of such models completely.”
– Manish Gupta from MBA Crystal Ball (Read the full interview)
The agencies get commissions (at least 10% of the tuition fees) when they send a student to their partner institute.
So, it just turns out to be unethical and purely driven by increasing numbers. The aspect of sound advice and suggestion, more often than not, get compromised in such settings. So, if an applicant gets this inkling of a doubt, our suggestion is to steer clear of such models completely.
Even worse, to make more revenues (and profit), the agents send the students to extremely low-ranked and sometimes fake institutes. There have been many such study-abroad scams in the recent past.
Indian Students often Struggle to Get into Top Universities Abroad
More importantly, top-ranked universities and brands like Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, etc. hardly work with agents. More than 200 top universities in the US, Canada, Singapore, UK, Germany, and other EU countries do not employ agents. So, the overseas education agencies do not help the students to get admitted to those colleges.
Read the following articles to get a better understanding:
Financing Problems for Middle-Class Indian Families
Some study abroad agencies might work with a few good universities. But then, they might not help the students with generous scholarships. The logic is simple – if the university has to offer scholarships to the admitted students; that will reduce the commission amount (or maybe no commission at all) for the agency or an agent.
Are the College Search & Career Counselling Portals, and College Admission Guidance Firms Doing Enough?
Limitations of College Search Portals
There are several college search portals in India that provide information about courses & colleges in India and abroad. But, the majority of popular portals actually focus on lead generation for colleges.
There are a few new-age digital platforms that claim to provide end-to-end career counseling services for students. But, students/parents hardly get to see the counselors or consultants before they fill several forms or register with the site.
Users might see something – “we use machine learning, AI, Big Data Analytics and blab la to match you with the right career or right counselor”. Well, it’s a great idea. But, more often than not, the goal of the platform is to gather data and generate leads. After all, data is the new oil in today’s digital world.
Can’t users actually get to know or contact without providing details?
How can the users be sure who is going to call after you provide your contact details?
So, again, a lack of transparency and a big question mark on the credibility of the counselor as well.
Limitations of Most of the Premium Career Counselling Platforms and Admissions Consulting Firms in India
At present, many career counseling platforms, admissions consulting firms, and independent admissions consultants are coming up in India. Though the number is still pretty limited, it’s increasing.
However, with the majority of such digital platforms (websites), students/parents hardly get to know about the consultants before signing up (and making the payment).
A few of those platforms are actually doing quite good in terms of blogs, videos, psychometric tools, etc. But, the convenience of getting to know the counselors or admission consultants, and reaching out to them is missing.
There are a few premium career counseling and admissions consulting firms that do provide information about the counselors and admissions consultants. But, more often than not, the students have to sign up with a significant amount of fees upfront, which could be something between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 3 Lacs.
Now, how could you make a decision of working with a counselor or a college admissions consultant and pay a large amount without getting to know about them?
Besides, not all the students might actually require an expensive package. Suppose a student needs only some guidance with the college list, SoP (or college essay) structure or maybe a few queries about the whole process.
Finally, there are a few counselors who might help you with such quick queries and charge you only for a single session (per hour basis). But, are there enough counselors in each and every city or town in India?
In the metro and tier 1 city, commuting to a physical location has been a growing pain. Lastly, students or parents might not have a consultation session outside the normal office hours.
So, overall, there are many limitations with the career counseling and college admissions counseling process in India.
After a long thought, we (Team Stoodnt) launched the on-demand online career counseling (Phone / Skype / WhatsApp) with the best possible transparency in the process.
Personalized Career and College Admission Counseling Online by Stoodnt
How does Stoodnt’s Online Career Counselling Process work?
- Users on the Stoodnt platform can choose counselors according to their subject matter expertise, pricing, and availability.
- Users (students and/or parents) don’t need to register (or sign up) with Stoodnt.com in order to view the profiles of the Counsellors.
- They can easily book a consultation or counseling session with the counselors of their own choice.
- Users can see the educational credentials, work experience, etc. of all the listed counselors on Stoodnt.
- All the Career Counsellors on Stoodnt are experienced & certified professionals and have been to the top colleges in India and/or abroad.
- The study abroad experts and admission counselors (UG, MS & MBA abroad) have studied at top universities abroad and have worked abroad as well. At the end of the day, just a foreign degree is not enough. Applicants also need to have first-hand information insights on the job market in the destination country.
- We have also got certified trainers and test-prep experts for guidance sessions and tutoring sessions for SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, GRE, GMAT, and CAT.
- Apart from India, there are Counsellors who are based out of the US, Germany, Singapore, Canada, Netherlands, etc.
Who should take the 1:1 Sessions on Stoodnt?
Any Student (high school or college), Working Professionals or Parents looking for guidance on subject/course selection, career path & roadmap development, study abroad planning, college shortlisting (or college list review), college admissions, college essay & SoP strategies, job search guidance or career change can avail our 1:1 counseling/consulting sessions with Stoodnt Experts.
The best part – You Don’t Need to Travel anywhere or stick to 9 – 6 timing. Connect with the Counselors & Consultants over the Phone, Skype or WhatsApp as per your convenience.
What do we cover in the 1:1 Sessions?
Users can discuss:
- Multiple Queries related to Courses, Career Paths, Higher Studies, and Jobs
- Test prep guidance – a strategy for exams like SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Profile Building for admissions at the top universities in India or abroad
- Study Abroad Options – Courses, Universities, Test Prep, Countries, Financing & Scholarships
- College List (University Shortlisting Guidance)
- Application Strategy and Career Roadmap Development
- Offer/Acceptance Reviews – Suggestions on choosing the right university (for the folks with multiple offers)
- Confusion, doubts or frustrations in their jobs or careers
- Ask anything before students/parents signing up for a full-fledged career counseling, test prep tutoring, or admission counseling package.
Why did we start this On-Demand Online (Remote) 1:1 Counselling Sessions and Bite-Size Services?
Indian youth need more guidance and career counselling and young Indians are interested in pursuing higher education and skills development.
In 2016, we also started with the usual package-based services, blogs, videos, tools, etc. Over the last 3 – 4 years, we realized that for a majority of students and particularly the study abroad aspirants, the application process is one of the most daunting times in their lives.
Easy and transparent access to counselors, admission officers, current students, and alumni from top universities is limited and the majority of admission consultants are extremely expensive.
We wanted to pay it forward and help those aspiring to do well in our lives and/or get into top undergraduate and graduate programs abroad.
We designed the one-on-one connect and bite-size services that provide the same edge in case of a top admission consultant, but at an affordable price.
“We felt we were fortunate to have guidance from our family members, friends, mentor, colleagues, and environment that had helped shape our careers – something 90%+ students and young professionals lack.
We believed guidance is as important as hard work & luck in helping students and young professionals develop, grow and be successful.
The primary motivation behind starting Stoodnt was to solve the needs, pain points of students & parents (primarily in South East Asian countries like India) around careers, colleges and how to get admitted to a good college.”
– Ajay Singh, Co-Founder & Chairman of Stoodnt
Right now, we have 40+ counselors/consultants on board. Among them, 15+ counselors and admission consultants are available for the instant connect (on-demand sessions).
In the next 12 months, we will be having 50+ active counselors for the 1:1 sessions. India has got a student population of 350 million who need handholding. Officially, India needs 1.4 million counsellors. Stoodnt is just getting warmed up in its mission.
Stoodnt is a Palo Alto (California) based Education Technology Company focused on helping students and professionals with career and college admission guidance and help.
Our vision is to have Stoodnt help every student in high school, college or an employed graduate, irrespective of their background and geographic location, with an opportunity to realize their aspirations of a successful professional career, growth and personal development.
We provide a personalized guidance platform with insights, tools, data and a network of experienced counselors to help students and graduates in career selection, college admissions, study abroad, interview prep, profile building, job search, and career change.
Our proprietary “Stoodnt Expert System” is at the core of the platform to provide personalized guidance to each and every individual based on their profile, interests, skills, experience, and aspirations.
I am one of the core team members of Stoodnt. I am also one of the counselors on the platform.
I did my Masters from Aston University (UK). Later, I worked at the University of Oxford (UK), University Medical Center Utrecht (Netherlands), and University of New South Wales (Australia).
Those who want to know about me, please visit this page.
Credibility is at its best when the message is not promoted via paid marketing but through reviews, word-of-mouth marketing, and referrals. Check out my best online career counselling and study abroad consulting reviews.
What do I do?
I primarily work with college students and working professionals. But, I do counsel high school students too. Read more.
My areas of expertise are MS admissions abroad, (Biotechnology & Life Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Data Science & Analytics, and Renewable Energy), Career Guidance for High School Students looking at to study STEM subjects after 12th, Job Search Guidance (CV, LinkedIn profile optimization), Study Abroad, and Personal Branding.
Featured Image Source: Development News
Author: Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & MS Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage online marketing at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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