Education is a great investment for everybody, not only in terms of money but also in terms of time. And, school and universities are the instruments to deliver the results of this very investment.
It is highly cogent to think that, better the instruments or the manufacturing machineries, better are the products or the output of such mechanisms.
This is the reason why students and parents spent months, searching for the best place to be educated. The queries on internet for top colleges, universities and schools increase by folds before admission times. Students and parents spend hours each day on the internet researching the top schools just to be sure about their actual credibility. It is very true that, most of the “Top” colleges are not up to the expectation of students.
The problem that seems to persist is the endeavor of the “top” colleges to remain in the top with consistent excellence in results. This is crucial for them to obtain an unfaltering attention of parents and students just to keep themselves going on. Such attempts mask the actual achievements of these institutions in providing quality education. Most of the times, making them to appear positive, when in reality, they are not.
A disoriented perception about being educated is one of the delicate obstacles. The so-called elite parents just prefer schools based on their social status and based on what the ‘others’ prefer their children to go.
This trait is more common among international Diasporas, according to a principal of a renowned school in UK. To be at par to such situations, the schools have no way but to prove themselves to be the very best.
As manipulation of data is quiet an easy task for the administration, they just avoid showing the data pertaining to unsuccessful students in exams and academics. However, this does not mean that, this bulk do have the required intellect to be educated.
Rather, this conjectures another critical facet that the students are in fact, not given the proper opportunities to grow academically, socially and physically. The idea is to keep this bulk away from the statistics that measures the performance of the institution.
Top schools in UK are marketing themselves to their potential customers, that is, the international parents, as being equally admissible to any students irrespective of their talent or the capacity to crack the entrance exams.
However, schools and university knows it perfectly, that such claim proves to be devastating while in a competition to produce excellent results and high success rates of students. Therefore, the process to list out students without good results is becoming a routine. Alarmingly, a number of schools in UK even refuse to provide their performance statistics to the compliers of top ten lists.
This is in favour of keeping their reputation infallible as before but this renders futility to lists made by compilers. Therefore, parents and students continuously fall in such pitfalls, knowingly or unknowingly every year.
What students and their guardians need to know is a number of “Inside Awareness” about the industry. They need to dig out not the top ten lists from the internet, but adopt better and factual practices to know about schools and universities.
There are experts who are associated with the industry, working closely with management and administration of large educational institutions who knows the real nature and shortcomings of schools and universities. They can be the best beacons to follow and to get insightful advice.
The beginning of a quest of school or institution is always the open source. The top ten tables are relevant to start with, but one should approach them with a different attitude. While studying these top list tables, look for data over longer periods.
A minimum of five years would be dependable and the maximum of 10 years is reliable enough. Observe the trend of the rankings and access the data on which they are based. This would let one to have a good insight on the validity of rankings as well as understand the institutions better.
The best way is to find the number of students. If the data is based on pupil less than 40, the results are surely not dependable.
Find out the resource strength of institutions. As human resource or the number of instructors or tutors is one of the best parameter that would affect the overall quality of education, more teachers means better education.
Aspects such as pastoral care arrangements, tutor groups, availability of teachers should all be considered without any compromise. Find out what are the opinions of independent authorities on their pastoral care arrangements. If the pastoral care group consists of more than 10, there must be something fishy about its high ranking.
Find out what the school provides students apart from classrooms and teachers. If the website mentions amenities such as clubs, societies, trips and other opportunities, find out the authenticity in them.
Apart from this, services such as student counselling are good parameters to depend on. Good schools have programs as doorways to impressive graduations.
Another aspect is the accessibility. Determine whether the top authorities of the school are open for communication or not. The top management must be always reachable and they must always be enthusiastic to listen to parents and students.
These are equally acceptable to higher education while choosing universities and schools. Prospective students for higher education should be sure about the details of the institution and their choice of study.
By David Boddy, Principal Partner, ASIS