Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Top of the charts

The Delhi University cut-offs for admissions are out. Nupur Joshi finds out what the hot options for the Class of 2004 are.

THESE days, anything from the latest trends in fashion to accessories to music deals to blockbusters can qualify for 'what's hot'. So, here I give you a sneak preview of which courses are riding high on popularity charts.

1 For the Class of 2004, MBA is at the top of the pack. From engineers to fresh graduates to working professionals to business owners, all want to flaunt a management degree. Moreover, it is not a dead-end job, one can further specialise in any stream: insurance, banking, telecom, finance, marketing or systems. Combination choices abound. Being an MBA gives one an edge in the rat race; the green bucks, the corporate freebies, of course, are an added attraction. There is no dearth of institutes offering MBA courses either.

Flip side: The career is too goal-oriented, there is no finishing line

2 Mass communication is a close second. Suddenly, the green bucks don't seem to matter. The charm of becoming a household name like Barkha Dutt or Prannoy Roy is strong. The lure is not that of lucre but that of glitzy glamour associated with showbiz, a notion reinforced by the talking heads on TV chat shows. Moreover, one can dabble in advertising, filmmaking etc. Downside: Inevitable struggle, years in doghouse, poor monetary rewards and the lack of credibility of professional courses, which have few takers in the industry. Still, there are high expectations from this course.

3 For those with a scientific temperament, biotechnology is the in thing.

The buzzwords are molecular biology, developmental chemistry, genetics and cloning. Just as a decade earlier it was robotics. Since this discipline throws up more options than any other science stream, more and more students are plumping for it.

Flip side: Salaries are not on a par with that in the IT sector, the R & D environment is stifling, and one has to eventually scour for openings abroad. Despite the seamy side, students are opting for biotech with an eye on foreign shores.

4 For the creative-minded, there are haute couture options like fashion and jewellery designing. Indian success stories and the increasing visibility of Indian products abroad have made these options popular. The prerequisites are creativity, a vivid imagination and an eye for detail.

Flip side: While success stories abound, no one is keeping a tab on those who fell by the wayside. Industry is still largely unregulated.

5 Information technology has lost some of its sheen. No longer enjoying top rating, combo choices like bioinformatics are being preferred. If this is your calling, the pay package is bound to be attractive.

Flip side: You are just another drop in the ocean.

The passion for languages is also picking up with private institutes and universities offering language courses. You can work as a translator in embassies or with an MNC, get paid by the hour. You get to rub shoulders with the top brass and attend conferences in five-star hotels.

All said and done, conventional choices like the civil services — still a national hobby — engineering, medicine and law continue to hold sway. The heart rules, but one does not ignore the head either.