Choosing a PU College after Class 10 – 6 Essential Checks

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Lakhs of students across India are awaiting the results of their Class 10 which will be out later this month. A big majority of will continue their studies by opting for Class 11 and 12 or Pre-University education as it is called in some States. Choosing a PU college after class 10 hence becomes an important task. Here are 6 essential checks you need to perform before you make your choice of PU college.

Essential Check #1 – Quality of Teaching

The No 1 among essential checks while choosing a PU College is the quality of teaching. 10+2 studies can take you down Science, Commerce or Arts stream. Each stream comes with its unique contours and will require varied take-off styles.

Essential Check #1 - Quality Teaching at PU college level
Essential Check #1 – Quality Teaching

Change in Content Load

Your take-off is facilitated by the lecturers in your chosen stream. Remember, till Class X your study was ‘a foot wide and inch deep’. You were given a broad base of knowledge to help you make a decision with respect to your stream. Henceforth, you will dig ‘a foot deep and inch wide’.

What should you look for?

Such a focussed approach requires specialised lecturers who have the experience of teaching their subjects for at least 4-10 years. This gives them excellent command over their spheres and they will be able to answer any doubts you might have.

Choosing a PU college wherein all lecturers are top class might be a tall ask, choose one where there exists a general atmosphere of coaching towards excellence. You need lecturers who work hard to ensure you get the best coaching in your streams.

Pitfall Alert!

Students often make the mistake of choosing colleges wherein the lecturers are academically highly qualified. This may not be a sound approach always. A well-qualified person need not essentially be a good lecturer. He/she needs to be able to lucidly and comprehensively explain the concepts to young minds like you. Therein lies the secret of a great teacher.

A great Physics lecturer for me is one who grabs the attention of all students in his class by performing an experiment every day in his class. An exemplary Economics lecturer for me is one who draws the class to some of the greatest Economists’ minds mankind has seen. A top class Biology lecturer is one who takes students on nature trips and the learning happens in the expanse of nature rather than the confines of the class.

Essential Check #2 – Infrastructure

Higher studies are rarely complete without the right infrastructure in place. When I speak of infrastructure, the thing that first comes to mind is a fancy college building, a neatly sculpted campus and a canteen that provides yummy snacks.

Essential Check #2 - PU Infrastructure
Essential Check #2 – Infrastructure worthy of a PU College

What should you look for?

Sorry to break your heart, but I meant none of these. While having these adds to the convenience, they come secondary on my list. Choosing a PU college with the right infrastructure means choosing a college that has

  1. essential lab infrastructure,
  2. centres of excellence for your chosen topics and
  3. a system in place wherein the lecturers routinely draw upon the expertise in the surrounding society to complement their class content.

Best in Class Labs for Science

Science requires best in class labs that allow

  1. demonstration of all experiments prescribed in the syllabus
  2. enough equipment to enable each student to personally recreate the experiment
  3. equipment to explore the topic a little further beyond the syllabus boundaries.

Centres of Excellence for Commerce and Arts

  1. Centres of Excellence (CoEs) to showcase/highlight quality work in their fields
  2. Allow students to contribute back to these CoEs

Pitfall Alert!

I have seen PU colleges where labs are for showcase only. The lecturers are restricted to showing 1-2 experiments the whole year and students never lay their hands on the equipment. A sad state of affairs! Colleges which do not replenish their broken equipment are plenty too.

So tread this essential check carefully!

Essential Check #3 – Mentoring

Take my advice on this one. Where possible, enquire with past students of a college on what is the mode of teaching. Is it plain lecturing or does teaching happen outside the classroom too? If the answer is the latter, close your eyes and choose the PU college that offers mentoring.

Mentoring and lecturing are vastly different.

Lecturing is predominantly one-way flow of information from the lecturer to the student with some scope for clarifying doubts.

What is mentoring?

Essential Check #3 - Mentoring instead of Lecturing?
Essential Check #3 – Mentoring at the PU level instead of Lecturing?

Mentoring is a two way street between the teacher/guru and the student. They exchange ideas, the guru imparts what he knows. More importantly, he infects the student with the passion he has for the topic being taught. He then guides the student to additional resources and exercises he/she can try by themselves.

This is followed by secondary information exchange sessions that enable the student to clear his understanding of the subject so far. The cycle iterates again.

What should you look for?

Mentoring is distinctly different from lecturing. Mentoring involves the teacher hand holding the student for some distance, letting go to allow self-discovery while being present close-by to prevent accidents. Constant encouragement, motivation is key for mentoring to be successful.

A friendly approachable teaching faculty is preferable to a highly qualified lecturer who shuns student contact beyond the classroom.

Why mentoring is the need of the hour for PU education?

Teenage Pressures

The students in PU 1st and PU 2nd are in their late teenage years. They are not only facing their most challenging years academically but they are strained mentally too as they transition into adulthood.

Parents at home put pressure to excel in academics. Peer pressure at college keeps nipping at them. If lecturers too just put pressure on them then it ends up wreaking havoc.

Mentoring is a much more suitable model to make children realise the importance of studying for their own sake and studying by assuming self-responsibility for how their career shapes.

Academic Load

The academic load is another indicator for mentoring to be the active mode of learning rather than lecturing.

A single chapter of Physics can have so many different types of problems that it is highly difficult for the lecturer to solve all types in the classroom. Mentoring, on the other hand, would involve solving the key problems that capture the approach and then guide the students to explore on their own.

Similarly, while Accountancy can introduce you to the elementary aspects of accounting and bookkeeping, there are so many unique situations where the student will need to apply the principles and find a way out. Mentoring is better suited here.

Essential Check #4 – Coaching for Competitive Exams

Most students in the Science and Commerce stream use the two years of 10+2 education to also prepare for competitive exams that will increase their chances of getting a seat in their desired college. Ensure that you choose a PU college that gives you both coaching on campus and for your desired competitive exam.

What should you look for?

Remember, the coaching should not be robbing you of precious time without adding the desired value. Also, make sure that it is not merely done for namesake.

Essential Check #4 - Competitive Exam Coaching In-house
Essential Check #4 – Competitive Exam Coaching In-house

Science students typically prepare for IIT-JEE, CET, NEET exams while Commerce students prepare for Banking, CLAT, CA exams. Some even begin preparation for Civil services exams too.

Pitfall Alert

Again, a common mistake that I observe parents and students making is assuming that competitive exam coaching must be done by a different set of lecturers. The opposite is more desirable.

When the same lecturers who teach the subjects coach you, they know each student’s abilities. They also synchronize competitive exam coaching with the current lesson being covered. They can also guide you suitably with respect to your career plans.

Essential Check #5 – Self Study Time

This is one of the most overlooked aspects of PU education. Choose a PU college that provides you ample amount of self-study time post the classes.

Essential Check #5 - Does the PU College provide  Self Study Time?
Essential Check #5 – Does the PU College provide Self Study Time?

4 core subjects along with 2 languages each day can so quickly dunk you into an un-organizable mess that you end up wallowing in self-pity for having opted for the stream. This happens to the best of students.

Lecturers are under tremendous pressure to complete the portions that they cannot afford to waste even one period. This coupled with post-class ‘community study hours’ exacerbates the problem. You find yourself with absolutely no time to plan and revise topics at a personal level and at a pace that you are comfortable with.

What should you look for?

Hence, the need, to narrow down on a college that leaves you with at least 3-4 hours of self-study time where you can take charge, organise your stuff and focus on aspects where you are yet to get a clarity of the subject matter.

Essential Check #6 – Affordability

Finally, choosing the PU college that you and your parents can afford becomes important too. More often than not, parents are blinded by equating the cost of PU education with the quality provided. This is seldom true.

Essential Check #6 - Affordability of PU College
Essential Check #6 – Affordability of PU College

The best PU colleges are not the ones with the greatest of buildings. Rather they are the ones with the best combination of the above five factors.

What should you look for?

Also, every rupee saved in PU education is a rupee kept aside for higher studies. So spend wisely and avoid blindly following the crowd.

When I wanted to choose a college, I chose the one with the best library rather than the costliest one. This paid me rich dividends as the library provided me a rich source to equip myself with all the knowledge I could absorb.

Summary

Choosing a PU College after Class 10 - 6 Essential Checks
Choosing a PU College after Class 10 – 6 Essential Checks

Overall, these 6 essential checks must form the cornerstones for successfully choosing a PU college after Class X (Ten). While several other parameters might crop up due to individual tastes and constraints, make sure you take time off to apply these 6 essential checks to every PU college in your shortlist for a good head start to college life.

Disclaimer: The author is the Principal of Anandathirtha PU College, Pajaka, Udupi

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