The 2017 Annual International Career and College Counseling Conference (IC3) is scheduled to take place over two days on August 30-31 in New Delhi. The Conference brings together high school leaders/counselors/teachers and university leaders/admissions and higher education representatives for a collaborative dialogue on counseling practices. Curriculum magazine spoke with Ganesh Kohli, IC3 Conference Chair to get a sense of the conference and perspectives
Being the chair of IC3 conference, please provide us a brief overview of what to look forward during this event?
The International Career & College Counseling (IC3) Conference will bring together high schools, universities and industry delegates from over 20 countries for a collaborative dialogue on issues that drive sustainable and inclusive counseling practices focused on student success. The two-day conference will feature a mix of workshops, roundtable discussions and panel discussions involving school principals and counselors, university administrators (including Vice Chancellors), admissions personnel, and leading industry figures. IC3 is not just a conference but a “movement” to help transform young lives through effective career and college counseling.
How did this conference concept evolve over the years?
Based on a recent research conducted by the team along with our observations over the years, we found that majority of 35 year old professionals were unhappy (often very grumpy) on Monday mornings. We discovered that at least 50% of their unhappiness was rooted in their career situation. On further investigation, we traced this unhappiness back to the advice that many of these adults received when they were in school – in class 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. It became amply evident to us that career and college counseling in school directly impacts the happiness quotient among employees in the industry. The idea of the conference was born through this research and we determined the need for a platform to bring schools, universities and industry together to look at the subject of career and college counseling.
The inaugural edition of the Annual IC3 conference was conducted in Mumbai in 2016 and it featured 35 sessions, 285+ registrants, 165+ high school delegates and 85+ university/college delegates.
We are embarking on a yet another journey towards our mission by entering in the second edition of the conference this year and we expect the number to be well over 500 delegates from over 20 countries. We are also introducing IC3 Awards, India’s first ever career and college counseling awards to felicitate schools, counselors and universities for their contributions to the field of career and college counseling. Our focus is to make career counseling a key priority area for educators.
Study abroad consultancy has been your speciality, give us some statistical information on the current size and trends in this segment.
There has been a constant rise in international student mobility over the years. As per the OECD report released in 2015, over five million students chose to study outside their home country last year and the top destinations are the U.S. and U.K. The “Open Doors” report released in the end of 2016 revealed that over 1 million international students are studying in the U.S.
President of India recently spoke about a reverse migration of students from NRIs/PIOs and others to India. Do you think it can become a reality? If no, what factors prevent this?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, this is already a significant phenomenon. It is important to highlight that from a job and career opportunity perspective, there is no better place than India, today. We are the fastest growing economy with a lot of sectors doing well. However, from an “education-opportunity” perspective, there are a lot of avenues available globally. While we have our struggles with finding quality education for such a large population in India, but the job-scene is definitely booming.
The goal for the student coming out of school must be to find the highest quality and best-fit (subject and college) education for his/her background. The country need not be a factor with education – it could be India or abroad.
A personal question, why did you choose to be in this career in the first place? Take us through important milestones of your life so far?
I was greatly inspired by one of my teachers in school, Mrs. Molly Abraham. She taught me Math and was very kind. Somewhere in school, I knew I wanted to become like her. However, I was often discouraged from taking up the teaching route, because it was not a financially rewarding profession in India at that time. I therefore ended up becoming an Engineer by education, but also by accident. I just could not get myself to live an unhappy life dealing with electronics and programming, so I chose to be rebel – and become a teacher/career and college counselor. I must say that I have loved every day of my work in the last 20 years.
What is your advice A) for those students who want to pursue studies abroad this year? And B) for those still in schools but aspire to study board when they pass out from schools?
The answer to this question can be several pages. However, I will stick to just a couple of points. I strongly recommend that students must not focus on studying in a particular country or outside India. It is NOT about the country. It is about their passion. The question to ask is – what do I really want to do / become? Where can I find the best educational resources to do this? If those resources happen to be in India, then India is the best place for them. If they exist abroad, then that is where they should go. It also important to look at your personal learning style as well. If you are a very hands-on/practical oriented learner, you do not want to study in an environment that does not allow you to experiment. A combination of resources (both personal and at the University), learning style and subject interest must determine where on PLANET EARTH a student should study.
And finally, what kind of professional services do you offer and how are these different, competitive or unique from the host of consultants spread across India?
I no longer consult or counsel individual students. My focus is on training and empowering schools to be able to do this themselves. The IC3 conference is an effort in that direction. It is about empowering schools to set up effective counseling offices so that more accidents (like me) do not happen. Just as it is critical for a school to have a strong Math or English department, it is critical to have a strong counseling department.
The IC3 Conference is being hosted by KIC UnivAssist, and both initiatives’ prime focus area is to impact young lives positively and advance global education. KIC UnivAssist was set up in 2010 with a goal to strengthen the interactions between high schools and universities. In particular, UnivAssist encourages universities to contribute to the counseling efforts at high schools through first-hand experience and professional development opportunities. UnivAssist supports the engagement of over 150 universities across 25 countries.