One of the first exercises when looking for college is to look at ranking charts. Sure enough, a cursory Googling of the top colleges in India will turn up all of the IITs, the top universities, the colleges that those annoying cousins attend (you know them, the ones mom can never shut up about). But, are rankings all that they are cracked up to be? Let’s take a look.
India Today has one of the most comprehensive ranking systems. Every year, it comes out with a list of the top engineering colleges in India, top medical colleges in India, top law colleges in India and so on and so forth, striated by streams and by location. Institutes are ranked on the parameters of Reputation, Academic Input, Student Care, Infrastructure, Placement, Perceptual Rank, and Factual Rank. You can also see how each college has fared over the years. Outlook also comes out with a general ranking list of all the best institutes in the country.
Some media outlets publish rankings for certain streams in particular. Times Engineering Survey, and Mint, for example, only do rankings for most popular courses within engineering, and other “professional” programmes, which, in the Indian context, refer to institutes that cater to students preparing for particular careers rather than a general education within a stream of enquiry.
Rankings are, if not a perfect benchmark, then, at least a rough one to allow you to shortlist institutes based on what you want from your college education. However, with advances in data crunching methodologies, rankings can sometimes be inaccurate. Also, despite how comprehensive and objective the parameters provided by the rankings systems seem, the rankings themselves are often based on highly subjective aspects such as “Reputation” among the general public, as well as among employers. Also, much of the data available to these publications comes from the colleges themselves, which is a detail that, while not immediately sinister, must mean that you take rankings with a grain of salt.
Eventually, no rankings list can guarantee the institute that will fit your best. Any decision must be tempered by factors that don’t count for rankings, such as proximity, expense concerns, reputation in particular specializations, and so on, and so forth, none of which can be sifted through with one click on that search button.
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