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Friday, June 10, 2011

Should placement be a criteria for choosing your program of study: Dheeraj Sanghi


Should placement be a criteria for choosing your program of study

Everyone asks details about the placement statistics of colleges and streams. A found a very nice article in this regard on the personal blog of Mr. Dheeraj Sanghi, Professor of CS , IIT  Kanpur whose excerpts are given below.
You can see his page http://dsanghi.blogspot.com

I have always advised that students and parents should not look at the placement records of different colleges or programs before deciding their choices. And I don't ever say you should not worry about money. I only say that you should not be bothered about placement information.
First of all, placement information is so unreliable, that in most cases it cannot be relied upon. Some colleges will tell you the top salary, which only one student would have got. I The most reliable barometer of the current employability and the economic value of a program, is the median salary of that program. But only if the program has large enough number of students, say at least 40-50, who are interested in taking up a job, and indeed get one. Hardly any institute will give you median salaries.

Second, the placement is only an indication of how a group was valued by those wanted to recruit that sort of talent. The individual differences are lost in the statistics. May be the guys who got good jobs are those who also had good soft skills, something that the program did nothing to add value to. I have no doubt that there is a difference in the market value of different academic programs. But that difference cannot be judged by placement figures, since they get biased by the presence or absence of certain categories of students.

Third, placement data is for last year's batch. You will be graduating 4-5 years from now. What will be the market valuation of your discipline/program, we don't know. Things may change in the interim period. Need to take that into account as well.

Fourth, you are looking at last year's placement data because you want to be rich. Fair enough. But there is no study done looking at the correlation between the first month salary, and the career earnings. If you want to be rich (and why not), you should be looking at a decent living immediately after the graduation, but most importantly, a hefty salary after 30-40 years. Your work life is going to be 50 years. Too bad, but you will be working till the age of 75. (Even today most people retire between 65 and 70 years of age, and with the rapid advances in medical science and technologies, it would be at least 75 for you.) Today's placement data gives you absolutely no indication of what your salary will be 30-40 years from now.
And what I feel is that if so many of our youth at an age where they should be most idealistic are willing to give up their interest and passion for 5 percent, when they grow up and become less idealistic (and more "practical"), would they not be willing to give up a principle or two for 10 percent. Wouldn't such students in an academic institution be willing to do plagiarism, copy an assignment, and cheat in the exam. And what would they be willing to do for 100 percent, just the imagination of it fills me with horror.

I don't think Anna Hazare will be successful.