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Friday, March 10, 2017

Early Admissions

I have often said in the past that one of the reasons for stress during admission time and finally many seats being vacant is that we are trying to complete admission process of more than 5 million students in just a few weeks in June/July. And we are doing this because somehow marks in 12th class or an entrance exam based on syllabus of 12th class is considered essential for admission to a college. Why can't we do admission before the board exams, I have often wondered.

This year, I am in the same boat as many readers of my blog. My daughter is looking forward to leaving school and start her college life. So the year has been stressful for everyone in the family, like it is for millions of families every year. However, our stress period got reduced because it turned out that many high quality private colleges have early admission process for liberal education. She applied to only one such university, and got selected. And since this happened before the board exams, she is able to focus on her boards without too much of stress. This also means that we will apply to only a small set of colleges after her board exams. A win-win situation for every stake holder.

I have suggested earlier that JEE Mains could be held in May after 11th class (and a few times after that), and JEE Advanced could be held in December. (Similarly, state entrance exams can be any time during the 12th class.). Admission process in all universities where the admission is not through board marks could ideally be finished in December/January. Students who did not perform well in any of these entrance exams would know their performance in December only, giving them a lot of time to try even harder in the board exams. It also allows universities to invite the admitted students before the classes start for removing any deficiency that they may have. For example, a lot of students from rural background may need some support in English language. They could be asked to join a couple of weeks in advance and some help could be given in this period. The current schedule has no space for any such intervention.

Note that tests for post-graduate admissions are usually held much earlier than the final semester exams. So CAT is held in November. GATE is held in February. Even though the number of students to be admitted is much smaller, and the stress levels associated with PG admissions are much less, and yet, the admission process starts so much earlier. But where we need that extra time, we don't do it. The placement activities start more than a year before the expected date of graduation. We don't always wait for the final exam results to be out to decide the next course of action, except for under-graduate admission in India.

A large number of students are dropping one year and repeating entrance exams next year. Can we at least offer these students an early admission. These have completed 12th class, and have every score that we would normally look for in June. So they could be considered for next year's admission based on this year's performance, may be with a bit of penalty. For example, when we are admitting students to IITs, we could ask both this year's JEE and previous year's JEE students to apply. We could say that we will reduce previous year's JEE marks by a couple of percentage points, and then consider them for ranking. If we do this, it almost amounts to early admission, since students will have a fairly good idea about where they will be able to get admission. One can even confirm admissions to next year in August itself.

Most of the universities around the world complete under-graduate admission without waiting for the 12th class performance to be known. We should be able to do it in India as well.


Shrikant Shet said...

Why do we so excessively stress on some PCM entrance exam and just have a SAT/GRE or even easier an IQ+EQ test?
Students in Mumbai start their JEE prep V or VI class onwards. We've ruined their childhood! Let them live free!

L said...

More than the timing of the test, if they could change the nature of the test such that it is coaching-proof, the stress would be minimised. If you understand your Math and science well, that should be enough. But I don't know how the test can be made coaching proof.
An NGO I work with conducts a science talent examination and aims to bring the top 40 rural students to Hyderabad for a week long science workshop. I tried having some comprehension based questions, where a paragraph describing some scientific observations or experiments is given and questions asked on that. However, there was a lot of resistance from others in the committee, so we ended up with just a couple of such questions from me.

xyz said...

Dear Prof. Sanghi, I think it is a very good suggestion. One issue could be syllabus if the exams are held in December. And this might give undue advantage to droppers who know the full syllabus. But if the syllabus of the exam is adjusted accordingly, this could go a long way in reducing academic stress.