Why Your Backup Graduation College May Be THE BETTER OPTION in COVID Time?


My article on ‘why your backup graduation college may be the better option in COVID time’ was published in The Tribune, a leading National Daily in India, on Monday, 24 August 2020.


Covid 19 has thrown a spin in college admissions worldwide. Many smaller colleges are not even sure if they will be able to survive this pandemic (Read here and here).

Globally parents want their children should stay closer to home. This is not yet backed up with actual data as admission season is currently on. Anecdotally of course, career coaches and mom groups are expressing the same sentiment. A mom I was speaking to zeroed in on a particular engineering college because she saw that it was exactly 4 hours door to door from her house to the hostel on Google Maps. Many friends have deferred their children’s plans to go abroad for post-graduation instead of graduation. 

Students are distressed as entrance exams get delayed (admission alerts can be read here). After dealing with the uncertainly over high school exams, even though the boards, including the usually stingy state boards were by and large generous with their largesse of marks, students are now increasingly finding themselves in situations where they have to pick up their back up college over the one, they had set sights on. Here’s the top three reasons why your backup college is not to be sneered upon and may actually be THE BETTER OPTION in Covid 19 times.

1. Skills and Attitude Win: This century is an age of skills and attitude. For every Harvard and IIT CEO, there is a young upstart with no IVY league or premium qualifications who has forged his/her own path and changed the paradigm of the industry. Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg revolutionized the industry and are all college dropouts. Read the list of successful entrepreneurs in India who didn’t go the IIT’s or IIM’s here. Google’s Senior Vice President for People Operations Laszlo Bock revealed that the number of degree-less hires has trended upwards as they’ve stopped asking for transcripts for everybody but the most recent graduates. The percentage of non-graduate hires is as high as 14% in some teams. Given these trendsand in line with the boom in availability of resources – knowledge, mentoring, peer learning, this is not a time to be obsessed over the premier tag of the college. The top skills in addition to your area of expertise that will get you a job will continue to be

a. Team Work

b. Communication

c. Problem Solving & Critical Thinking

d. Digital Skills

e. Adaptability

2. Uncertain Visa and Travel: India has seen a large uptick in the exodus of students to foreign countries from 1.4 lakhs students in 2014 to 7.5 lakh+ students in 2019 (Source: Ministry of External Affairs report). This exodus has been driven by

a. Difficulty in getting into the course of one’s choice in India even with top marks,

b. Potential for working and settling in a country with higher wages and quality of life and

c. Newer and updated courses.

The top 7 countries where Indian students have gone last year were USA, Canada, Australia, UAE, Bahrain, China and UK. With the pandemic, the F1 student visa for US is in doldrums. Canada and Australia are still attractive options, with Ireland coming up as a new destination. But as recent times have shown, travel and evacuation in a crisis can be quite distressful. Colleges like NMIMS, Manipal, SRM University with excellent transfer programs where students can travel abroad for the final 2 years are witnessing a huge increase in demand for their courses, but the actual nos are still very small. Make in India will be fuelled now by Stay in India.

3. Digital Boom: The digital Ed Tech Industry is seeing many unicorns in the making. A report by Red Seer and Omidyar Networks says that the unique users for K12 and post K12 segment has doubled from 45 million in 2019 to 90 million in 2020. The best of courses are now available virtually. MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) are now available from several Ivy league colleges. At most, there may be a small exchange fee for the certificate, and majority of them are completely free. IIT Madras recently opened up an online B.Sc in Programming & Data Science (Read here) and the response to acquiring an IIT degree sitting at home has been phenomenal. The digital age has arrived. Over 80% respondents in Pearson’s Global Learning Survey 2020 said that there will be new type of jobs. It is now easier to have virtual meetings, and connect with experts in different parts of the world. Virtual competitions and access to opportunities have made the world truly flat and exponentially opened the vistas of learning. You are no longer limited by where you are studying.

The graduating class of 2023 or 2024 (depending on whether they have a 3 year or 4-year degree respectively) get to start their graduation in unprecedented times. I expect them to be extremely resilient and adaptable. Watch out for some great leaders from this class.


– The writer is an HR Advisor and Career Coach (www.nimtalkingtalent.com)


2 thoughts on “Why Your Backup Graduation College May Be THE BETTER OPTION in COVID Time?”

  1. Awesome write up Nimrata. We never had such help during our times. Present generation are lucky to have people like you to guide them and show them the right direction, the right place for right talent. Hats off to you.

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