7 questions to ask when applying for degrees in a pandemic world
In the course of the last year, education around the world has seen a paradigm shift at every level – from kindergarten to doctorate programmes.
Online classes have become the norm, and more and more students are looking for a superior virtual experience that helps them optimise their growth and career prospects.
While literally, every marquee university is racing to offer online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level, many are unable to match up to the expected standards for a contemporary online degree programme.
This is because leveraging technology to deliver high-quality education needs intense investment, and only some universities have come out winners in this transition.
So, how do you discern which is the right programme for you? Here are some key parameters that must be satisfied.
Q1. Is the degree recognised?
In India, only those universities with a NAAC rating of above 3.26 are allowed to offer online programmes. So, do check the rating of the universities you aim to apply to.
Secondly, the university must be recognised by the University Grants Commission. If the institution is not recognised, then you will not receive a legitimate degree at the end of your programme.
So, do your research carefully.
Q2. Is the institute backed by legacy?
It is important to attend a university with a stellar legacy and reputation as this enhances your prospects in the real world. Universities that also support research in various fields, also tend to offer a high standard of education.
The legacy of the university makes a difference during the placement and job search process as it lends credibility and brand recall to your profile.
Q3. How user-friendly is the learning interface?
The best online programmes offer flexibility and the opportunity to learn at your own pace. They offer app-based learning and byte-sized content, that is easy to access and consume. Content can be disseminated in the form of quizzes, be gamified, and be highly interactive – a departure from learning from textbooks.
Shy students also get a chance to shine in the online space by using all the communication tools at their disposal to participate.
For example, an institute such as Manipal University Jaipur, which offers online degrees, has significantly raised the standard of education by delivering it over a superior user interface. Programmes include online BBA, BCA, MCA and MBA, among others.
Q4. Is the curriculum up to date?
The curriculum of your programme must offer a mix of contemporary and traditional subjects. For example, a good online MBA offers all traditional business streams such as HR, finance, marketing, operations, and sales, as well as insights into important areas like data science, e-commerce and retail management.
Q5. How tenured is the faculty?
When looking at the faculty, look at various credentials – from educational qualifications and tenure to their industry exposure and investment in research. Try and understand how online classes will be delivered, as well as how interactions will happen online. For example, will the faculty be accessible to help clear doubts?
Q6. Does the programme offer practical experiences?
In the real world of work, skills are highly valued alongside subject knowledge. A good online programme encourages internships, projects and practical experience. Some programmes, like an online MBA, even make internships mandatory, while programmes like the online BCA offer practical across a range of subjects, like web design and development, and all the core programming languages.
Q7. How is the placement ecosystem?
As the world of work gets more and more competitive, online degree programmes are also investing in preparing students for the placement process.
This can include aspects such as resume building, training on how to leverage social media for visibility, networking opportunities with alumni and industry, and training on how to prepare for job interviews.
Universities with a legacy and stellar industry networks offer a solid framework for actual campus placements. In a pandemic context, of course, even placement interviews happen online, so, this is an additional skill that is being included.
One must remember, of course, that the best online programmes offer support but don’t guarantee jobs, as this would be unrealistic.
Prep for a post-pandemic world
The pandemic has inspired a deep shift in our approach to education, work as well as work modes. In the future, thousands of jobs will permanently be remote, and contemporary online degrees prepare students for all these new nuances.