Cracking the IIT entrance exam is a dream for many students and parents. Here are some guidelines on how to choose the best coaching institute and mentor your child through the whole experience.
By Nivedita Mukerjee
What should I consider before enrolling my child in a coaching course for the IIT entrance examination? This question triggers many others: Is my child interested in joining IIT? Is my child IIT material? Which is the best institute? What should I look for when choosing an institute? Can I afford it? Is it worth it? Can the child do the preparation on her own?
I asked four of my friends about their experience of putting their children through the much-vaunted IIT entrance exam. This is what they had to say:
“My son’s capacity to adapt to a new place, the ambience of the institute and teaching quality were important factors which influenced my decision,” says Sanjay Jogai, whose child is currently enrolled in a well-known coaching institute in Chandigarh. The boy will write the exam in 2018. This is a journey they are undertaking as a family, Jogai says. The family has learnt how to support the child emotionally and motivate him without placing undue stress on performance.
Seema Raj’s son was initially enrolled in a coaching institute in Hyderabad, but the quality of teaching was unsatisfactory. To help him avail of better facilities, the whole family moved to Kota. “I was very happy with the institute there. They have experienced teachers. That was our main criterion,” she says. The risk paid off and the boy won an IIT seat. He is currently pursuing an MS in Computer Science from Ohio University. For Seema, feedback from former students played an important role in choosing the Centre. However, good teachers are allocated usually to only the top three or four batches, other batches are taken in purely to make money,” she says. “Children who enrol purely because of parental pressure are unlikely to succeed,” she adds.
Another parent, Dr Sunita Vashishtha, is against the very idea of coaching institutes. She feels reliance on such institutes should be reduced. Even students who barely manage to learn their school portions are being forced into these institutes, she points out. The institutes charge a hefty fee, and in return, parents feel they are absolved of responsibility for their children’s performance. In reality, many children end up spending time unwillingly and unproductively at such institutes.
Sonali Shirodkar, a parent from Mumbai, whose son attended a sought-after institute, says that faculty should be the deciding factor while choosing an institute. They should be knowledgeable, experienced, interact well with students, and most importantly, should have passed the exam themselves. Logistics should be given importance too. Other factors to be kept in mind include flexibility of fee structure, the possibility of refunds and classroom amenities.
Many parents caution that it is imperative to check the credentials of institutes. Coaching institutes are notorious for paying toppers and high achievers with no connection to the institute to allow their names to be used to enhance saleability.
Can this tough exam be cracked without coaching? Many do just that - just about half of all aspirants, in fact. Nonetheless, coaching is useful if your child needs additional motivation to revise, practice and keep to a schedule.
Most established coaching institutes offer a variety of courses. Configurations include:
Fees vary widely and can range from Rs 50,000/- per year to Rs 2 lakh, sometimes higher. The courses are not eligible for student loans. Given the immense demand, coaching classes are ‘one-size-fits-all’. Teachers cannot attend to each student individually. Ultimately, it is the child who needs to put in the effort.
Which is the best? The answer is, simply, the one that most suits your needs. However, keep these points in mind while making your decision.
Once you have enrolled your child in an institute, ensure his well-being. Discuss all aspects of the coaching experience with him. Success will be neither achieved nor enjoyed if it comes at the cost of emotional or physical comfort.
Your child will be under a lot of pressure, self-induced, or brought on by teachers, society, peers and family. Pressure, poorly tackled, can have a lasting negative impact. According to Vinita Shah, an experienced career counsellor, everyone the child is in regular contact with should be taught to be understanding.
Sure, getting into an IIT is a dream cherished by many, but not getting through should not be regarded as evidence of failure or ineptitude either by the child or parent. IIT is not equal to success. What is success? For parents and children, that’s an interesting topic to be discussed.
Nivedita Mukerjee is a journalist, educator and parent. She writes about matters that concern a child’s success and well-being. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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