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Does career counselling help?

Last updated on: July 14, 2009 14:43 IST

Barely out of school, Anchal Gulati and Shagun Shrivastav, spend the mornings in noisy autos in the hot summer heat of Delhi, moving from college to college, filling out forms and submitting applications. Anchal who topped in Vasant Valley School, New Delhi, wants to study economics and is keen to get into LSR.

They aren't however, alone, as they make key decisions which would shape their subsequent lives and careers. Parents, long condemned for being outdated have been replaced by informative counsellors, well equipped to sift the redundant from the necessary information.

The decision is an important one, and much of it is reduced to -- how do students make informed and intelligent decisions? Does one turn to professionals or one's wisdom. Anchal decided to pick them when she decided to apply to the UK for her graduation. She turned to The Chopra's, who began their profession in advising since 1995. "They are really renowned, plus, they do all the paper work and running around for you." A sound enough reason to ask for help.

But it does come at a price, costing anywhere from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000.

Picking a Counsellor

It is difficult however, to speak to Tanushree Bhattacharya, head of the counselling group, The Chopra's. This is the peak season for the counselling industry in India. With the results declared and students scrambling to submit applications, both independent and corporate counsellors step into this influential space.

Are they qualified to help you reach that decision? Ravi L Singh of Global Reach says that not many people know but most counsellors have a degree in psychology at least. Apart from this, many institutes insist that each counsellor undertakes a two week training programme. For educational institutes in the UK, counsellors are given certificates by the British Council. Similar institutes grant certificates in Australia and the US.

Before you pick one however, have a few guidelines in mind. Jitin Chawla says a student should always check if the counsellors follow standardised psychological tests. Several have customised but arbitrarily designed ones, of little help. "Ask for the manual and enquire about who is conducting the test and whether they are qualified or not," he says. The company is presently conducting a Mission Admission with NDTV where live questions on careers and courses are entertained. He does admit, however, that conversations over the phone have their limitations.

A lot of students however, choose to make their own decisions. Shagun, who finished school from Welham's in Dehradun, is applying for an undergraduate course in Economics. Her reasons are clear: she likes the subject and scored well in it too. That made it simple for her to make the decision. The same applies to Dileep Gupta, who scored a possible, but difficult score of 99 per cent in Mathematics. Mathematics (honours) is what he has applied for, and with marks like that he will probably make it.

What is a session?

A session usually means a one-time interaction with a counsellor. It could last anywhere between half-an hour to four hours. Much depends on the clarity of the student on what s/he wants. 90 per cent of the queries are calmed within a day. But if a decision cannot be reached, it spills over to another day. Students are not charged for the subsequent days and are in fact, encouraged to call and make enquiries.

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