Mission admission

In this season of college admission, we answer a bunch of questions from anxious parents who were smart enough to figure out that we will be answering them this week and hence had them sent to us last week itself.

How to choose a good engineering college?

It is said that faculty and facilities define an engineering college. Good faculty is defined by its members who have done extensive research, presented scientific papers at national and international forum and are regularly invited to subject-related seminars and meetings. In other words, a well qualified teaching member would be —- I would want you to store this information — mostly unavailable for teaching. In the event, in almost all engineering colleges, your son or daughter will be taught by faculty members who mostly would be former students of the same college who had failed to get placement elsewhere. Of course, this may not be the case with IITs or NITs. Of course, if your son or daughter is actually capable of making it to the IITs or NITs you wouldn’t be looking for an answer to a serious life-and-career-defining question in a humour column.

Now on to facilities: Let us accept that most colleges these days possess very good infrastructure when you inspect them on the prospectus brochure. It is in the same brochure you will also see students being happy and chirpy in classrooms. That makes it clear that college prospectuses are documents even more dubious than Salman Khan defence plea papers. At any rate, what do you do with good lab and research facilities when there are not half-decent teachers around? It is like owning an Audi Coupe when you are actually living in Mambalam. You may think it’s great, but in reality it’s pointless.

So, to answer your question, on how to choose a good engineering college, we would say —- experts too concur on this —- go for the one that offers air-conditioned transport facility, inside which is where your daughter or son is going to spend most of her/his next 4 years of engineering education.

My niece wants to pursue BL (Bachelor of Law), how many years is the course and what is taught?

Before we begin to answer your query, allow us to point out that Bachelor of Law is denoted not as BL, but as LL.B. This would make it clear that this is not a profession for normal people, but we wouldn’t want to commit ourselves that explicitly in print. LLB, for the record, is a Latin abbreviation, meaning ‘you must be stupid to try and make sense of it in English’. You will come across a lot of Latin phrases in law course.

LLB is a packed course where students meet every day of their course and adjourn for the next day. And on the final day of the course, they are given a degree certificate and directions to the nearest court of law.

My son is interested in history. He is also keen on philosophy. What should I ask him to take up in college? Please advise.

History is a fascinating and dynamic subject. For instance, when in school, under ‘ancient period’ we read about the time people like Gandhi grew up. Today’s students under ‘ancient period’ are reading about the time when we grew up. History is interesting. But for some strange reason, people who take up history for serious study find themselves without friends.

Philosophy, on the other hand, involves that period of time, which is not past or future or even present, when you think up ideas which you express in sentences that don’t have to make any sense to anyone. Another hallmark of philosophers is they are, as a tribe, unafraid souls, unafraid to sport a grungy beard.

If your son is keen on history or philosophy, our advice to you is: Stay safe.

How good are journalism courses both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels? How are the placement prospects?

Journalism at the bachelor level is a three-year process, and at the PG stage, it could be one-year diploma or two-year course. Over these five years or four years as the case may be, students are painstakingly taught various media related stuff none of which are even remotely relevant to the profession.

If you are a normal person or even a fairly attentive cabbage, there isn’t anything in this profession that requires more than week or two of learning.

As far as placement prospects go, the industry, as you would expect, puts a premium on high standards and not everyone gets a job here. You know why? Exactly. Not everyone has applied for it. Otherwise, we in the industry pretty much offer jobs to anyone who is smart enough to turn up at our door. And this includes the beat postman, too. This alone explains the quality of journalism in the newspapers, TV channels and, more importantly, in this column.