Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Selling Education – Recession Proof Business

I have been home for the last three months or so, working for a coaching institute here as their part time faculty. Now this is something that I really enjoy, right after I completed 10th standard. Giving tuitions to neighboring kids, trying to tutor my younger brother, and also giving gyan to whosoever cares to listen. So, teaching is something that comes naturally, and after a stressful day, spending some time with the students, interacting with them, and learning at the same time gives me a wonderful kick.

I realize that teaching is no more an honorable role that it was previously. Teachers can build up people, a society or a nation through teaching (Ah! Big talk!), and it goes without doubt saying that teachers are valuable assets in our country. The basic job of a teacher is to inspire and enhance the confidence of the student, and to bring out his/her hidden qualities. Many more basic personality traits like honesty, integrity, ethics, etc… are inspired by a teacher, but here I am just relating to teachers at a coaching institute, and the institute in general.

One thing that I have been observing for these three months is the mass commoditizing of education, as if it was something to be sold in the market. The commercialization of education, carried out by these coaching institutes, and then the B Schools is altering or disrupting the teaching and learning process itself. Advertising and other commercial activities in order to increase profit just negates all the goods of a nice education. It is like:

Want an MBA?

Join our coaching institute. More than half the junta at IIMs presently is from our institute. (How many were regular students? How many of them were actual students at all?)

We have approved and audited results from the biggest auditory services firm in the country, confirming our
claims (Okay! I agree to your claims, but what is the percentage of the people who do not make it anywhere?)

Sitting in the office, I look at despair students with their clueless parents, hanging their big money bags under their vests, trying to look for some information regarding further education. What happens? Are they shown the right path by the counselors present there? Obviously No. Infact, they are marketed some or the other course available at the coaching center.

Sir, an MBA today gives you the highest ROI, Says one of the ads at the center.

Cool! Maybe right, but what about the interest of the candidate? Just because the money here is good, a possible excellent scientist is sold off to become a mediocre manager.

"I think my son should do an M.Tech after engineering? He is very bright in his core subject." asks the parent (say Mr. Despondar) very curiously.

The counselor retaliates, "No, An M.tech even in the IITs do not offer you a great salary, sir", as if it is a sin to do an M.Tech.

"He should rather try for MS in the US."

That is because the counselor realizes that to pursue M.tech the student would have to prepare for GATE, an entrance exam for which they do not provide coaching. So she would be missing out on a possible student.

"Nah, that would be too expensive. I don't think I have the funds to send him to the US", exclaims the parent.

"Oh! That is okay. Then maybe he could consider CAT", the counselor replies, cleverly leaving out the information that CAT is for MBA, and not for any technical course.

The parent is now totally confused – M.Tech, GATE, MS, GRE and now this new bird called CAT. What the hell is this?

The counselor now starts off, "CAT is for an MBA in the IIMs, sir"

"They are like the best colleges in india, and gives you huge salary opportunities and opens up wide horizons... blah! Blah!"

This is because, the center offers training for CAT, and she would get a high commission on admitting a student for CAT.

After about half an hour of detailed brain washing and hard selling CAT, she manages to convince the parent that CAT is the best thing to have happened to them. The son, all this while has no say, and even now when Mr. Despondar is totally convinced, he gets no chance. Typical Indian middle class, where the parents try pushing all their dreams and decisions on their child – right from the choice of the colour of the bike, to the girl the child gets married to.

The parent pays the hefty fees of around 20k, emptying his hard earned bulging money bag, and walks out happily and satisfied. As if his son has already made it into the IIMs.

Now, the student – the son, who was actually interested in going ahead with technical studies, is forced to write CAT. There, the country loses one more potential scientist and there is born one more mismatch citizen who would always crib his life that he is not in a job he loves. Thanks to the coaching center.

The only mistake being – His dad ended up at an institute which offers CAT coaching and not GATE coaching. Similarly, many a students interested in MBA, end up writing GATE, thanks to TEA.

p.s.: More posts to continue regarding the same topic – Education at sale.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are personal and my own.


  1. Anonymous9:57 AM

    even MBA education is no less expensive right?It might cost less than an MS but definitely more than M.Tech(unless otherwise one makes it to FMS)...

  2. Anonymous11:31 AM

    True!Here in this case, a major part of the mistake lies with the student himself. How can a 20 year old student enroll himself in a course without even knowing whether it is matching his/her goal or not?It is highly ridiculous. Infact, he/she should get rid of the sheer laziness that they carry, and try to do extensive research from various sources like Net/Magazines/Faculty at their campus etc etc.

    If we look at the education system in the western countries, the student is completely independent and he doesnt take his parent for counselling at a graduate level(Ofcourse it is not a mistake) for god sake!He/She knows with clarity the course to go for, the funds to be managed as a part of course fee etc. I think this is partly attributed to the way in which an Indian child is brought up!

    Overall, a good topic to discuss: Also request you to focus on the hefty fee collected by primary schools. (Read somewhere that they are charging Rs. 40k to 80k for LKG :D)

  3. @ Anonymous 1: yeah, tht depends on the insti u get into.. Once into the IIMs or such, you don need to worry about your expenses for the next two years.. The bank loan (issued without any guarantee) takes care completely!

    @ Anonymous 2: totally agree that the student himself is to blame. The student is now an adult, in his/ her undergrad, and is expected to make decisions on his own, and also make ways to reach his dream. The fault, as you said, probably lies with the way he/she is brought up!!

    Yaar, why anonymomus posts, with such good comment.

  4. abhishek banthia5:51 PM

    Hey dude nice one...it will surly give some info to ppl runnin around things they really dont want,...

  5. Quite right BJ... and this commoditization of education, as you chose to call it, is prevalent not just at coaching institutes, but at all levels of education in India, starting right from school. Even institutes like IIPM which market themselves very aggressively mislead and make false promises to students. You might be interested int he following article: http://careers360.in/lead-story/iipm---best-only-in-claims.html .

    As for students allowing parents to make decisions, the sad fact is, for whatever reason, not everyone who has attained the age of 20 becomes an adult mentally, or is confident enough to make major decisions himself / herself. More often than not, parents force their wards to agree to whatever they decide simply because they control the funds!! Sad, but true.

  6. Oh, and you might want to have a re-look at the template you are using... the entire right panel is half cut off for some reason.

  7. @ Abhishek: Thnx dude!

    @ gagan: yeah, agree with you on the parents controlling the funding part!! Sad
    n yeah, wil work on the template part.

  8. trully hapening.... once i went to Cl vizag where a guy who came for icet was given lots of gyan by the cousellor there and finally the counsellor succeeded to join him in CAT coaching.

  9. @ Praveen: Exactly, the point of this article!!

  10. Anonymous5:58 PM

    True.. Scientist is sold off to become a mediocre manager.. would just lyk to give an instance of a batch mate during MBA.. A genius guy..Has research brains.. .. given paper presentations in various conferences abroad.. But joined 2 do an MBA.. Courtesy...Parents.. who think there is no growth in financial terms in the field of research.... Who is to b blamed!!! Parents simply wouldn't let him get into research...

  11. @Anonymous: I know, and the system is to be blamed for tht no doubt. but, one thing to realise here, is that a guy - fit to b a research guy, wil not necessarily excel in managemene, and for sure wil not enjoy his work as a manager!

  12. also to add,the myth of general applicability of MBAs everywhere,preferably the IIM grads .
    even the recruiters think the same way !

  13. @ Miss 'A': Yeah true. Should probably write on tht.. n try clearing tht myth to some extent!!

  14. Commoditization of education I think, is a byproduct of the "mob mentality" that people have developed towards education. It happens right after class 10. Most of the people join engineering coaching and the "corporate" colleges milk the craze. How can we forget the asilmetta junction when the EAMCET results are announced. After engg, it is the CAT and all this not because the students want to become engineers or have the aptitude for management. It is just because it works out for some people and everyone else wants to just do it mindlessly

  15. @ Avanija: totally agree, and well hav been seeing these campusus over campuses built over the years by these coachin insti's!!!

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