When it comes to planning a major for higher studies, students are excited and equally confused at the same time. A majority of students settle for traditional courses, a few, meanwhile, tend to take a different route. This could include choosing a fresh or newly introduced course that promises to be futuristic and challenging at the same time.
A few years back students made beelines to get admitted into degree programs like Biotech and Business Management, shedding the regular engineering, science, and commerce degree options. It prompted a majority of the colleges to offer these courses to meet the demand. The latest trend among students are courses related to forensic science, gaming among a few others.
What is the pull?
An urge to do something new and different, and the prospects and promises of the new courses being better for in the future, attracts students towards them. There is no denying the fact that the media too plays its role in hyping up the benefits of these courses.
Few students choose these courses just to follow something different than the usual route.
What are the challenges?
Like with everything new, there are unknown risks and surprises involved when choosing a freshly introduced course:-
1) Less number of institutions
Whenever there is a sudden spurt of demand for courses related to any new technology, process or service, you don’t find enough colleges offering them in the first few years.
The reasons could be – colleges waiting to see if the demand is permanent or temporary, lack of quality faculty or other infrastructure requirements etc.,
The colleges that do offer it, may not necessarily be located at a place near you. So, you might have to plan for long distance travelling or staying out of your town, State, and even Country to pursue these courses.
2) Lack of Professional faculties:-
As pointed above, whenever a new course comes along, availability of a qualified professional is not high.
Reputed colleges are known for their quality training, and hence they ensure and appoint a good team of professionals trainers and teachers before they introduce the courses in their college. It takes time and doesn’t happen any faster.
Institutes that rush to cash in on the demand, by offering these course without the right faculty, proper infrastructure etc., are in fact doing a disservice to students.
This results in students spending more time outside the classroom, sourcing information from books outside their curriculum, journals, internet videos, etc., The whole idea and effort then, of gaining knowledge through a professional from an institution, is defeated.
It is thus important to check the qualification and experience of faculties before joining a freshly introduced course in an institute.
3) Fewer number of jobs
Even when a new field of study, that particular course covers, is cutting edge or futuristic, it may not necessarily guarantee a large number of employable opportunity as soon as one graduate.
Established companies, research organisations and service sectors already have a set-method or technology running with a fair amount of capital and time invested. Hence, any new processes and methods are slowly introduced on a rather small scale.
For example, electric cars have been around for a few years now and are considered the future of automobile technology. Yet, a majority of the top car manufacturers still put their major resources on fuel propelled cars with only a few dedicated models and research arm for electric ones.
In such a situation, there is a limited number of job openings, for students graduating, in the present and immediate future.
So, who will land with these limited number of jobs then?
When you have students from an elite and regular college equally competing for the same position, it would be no surprise that majority of these limited jobs will fall in the laps of talented students from the elite colleges.
Students from lower ranked colleges have to come up with extraordinary grades and knowledge to have any chance of winning such positions.
Among the remaining students, a good number of them may take up the route of higher studies like research and Ph.D. to keep their passion alive, while some get into the teaching field. (Chances of good institutes offering decent compensation for qualified professionals could is higher)
The rest of the students, with little to no choice left, may change their field or take up things that give them more chances of a faster employment. Like, for example, quite a few Biotech graduate students took to software jobs at one point in time, due to lack of employment opportunities in their field.
The above points reflect the practical issues that a student may have to face in her/his quest to pursue something different.
It certainly is commendable to go after something new and exciting, but being aware of the risks associated with it keeps one better prepared for the challenges and surprises that may spring up in future.
(The author is a Career Advisor in the field of Education, providing career guidance and counseling to students)