The New Schools
New schools popping up everywhere, what does it mean for your study abroad plans?
There seem to be announcements on the side of every BEST bus these days advertising a new “international school”. Whether it’s the Ascend’s school’s new elementary programs, HBV’s IBDP efficiently squeezed between the Western Railway tracks and Marine Drive or the recent shift by the well established Bombay International school to transition their curriculum to IGCSE and IB, many entities are vying to prepare students with an ‘international’ education. But the question is why are these schools growing like mushrooms? And what does it mean for your plans if you’ve set your sights on higher education outside India?
First of all we know that the number of Indian students going to college outside of India has steadily increased over the past 10 years and while it is difficult to access exact numbers, a casual estimate of IB diploma programs around the city suggests around 70% of graduating students are studying abroad.
The increase in students seeking admissions abroad has multiple causes. In some cases IGCSE and IBDP students do not actually feel prepared for the structure of Indian colleges. Furthermore with Indian colleges reporting admissions cut offs at 100%, even bright students can end up with very few good options. And the situation does not show signs of improvement anytime soon. Recently the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that there are 370 million school aged citizens in India and the government estimates that it will need to build 1,000 new universities and 50,000 colleges by 2020 in order to accommodate expected demand – that means building an average of 125 new universities and 6,250 new colleges per year. Clearly this is not going to happen, so the educational resources of the world will have to be reallocated to some of the millions of deserving Indian students.
Students who want one of the ‘reallocated’ seats, need to be competitive and prepared for an international education and the new IB programs have been set up to offer this preparation. When Princeton University admissions representative was asked whether the college prefers IB students, he acknowledged that Indian students from IB schools are indeed well prepared for college-level work.
But how can you evaluate these, often very expensive new programs? Like anything else, you need to research the results of the students graduating, the reputation of the school as a whole and your own perception of a ‘fit’ when you visit.
Another factor to consider is whether the program is able and willing to offer you the resources you need. For example some schools do not have the infrastructure or do not allow students with deep extra-curricular interests to pursue their talents. State-level swimmers and performance-ready Bharatnatyam dancers often sacrifice their passion because they believe the international boards guarantee their entry into prestigious colleges. But in fact, in the US especially, competitive universities want to see deep extracurricular interests and leadership that go beyond the standard ‘participation’ options that exist at most schools in India. Competing outside of school shows risk taking, initiative and discipline so, depending on your situation, you may be better off sticking with an HSC board and competing at higher levels in your talent. Plenty of HSC and ISC schools send students abroad for college. With good marks, scores, and creativity you will be as competitive as other Indian students.
And finally as I always emphasize, keep an open mind when deciding where to apply: An increase in the number of students vying for seats at colleges abroad means students have to consider institutions beyond the brand names or standard fall back options.