India is perhaps at the center of every discussion when it comes to international education. A big part of this is due to the large number of Indian international students studying abroad. According to the World Education Services, in 2014/2015 there were 281,160 Indian international students studying in the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., China, New Zealand and Germany. However, the big challenge that comes in understanding the education system of India is where do you begin? According to a report by the British Council in 2014 on the Indian education system, there were 1.4 million schools with 230 million enrollments and more than 50 boards of education in India, making it perhaps one of the most intriguing education systems in the world.
Navigating the Indian education system is no easy task and I say that as someone who grew up in India, who received not only a K-12 education in the country, but also pursued an undergraduate degree in India. In fact, reaching out to schools and universities in India isn’t about the institution you represent, but the relationship you develop with high school counselors, principals and administrators over the course of your interactions with them.
This is where the IC3 Conference comes in. The IC3 Conference makes it so much easier for high school professionals from every part of India, Southeast Asia and Middle East to meet with college representatives from all over the world. As an attendee of the IC3 Conference since its inception in August 2016, as well as presented sessions and now as part of the IC3 Committee, this conference has given me an opportunity to understand the evolution of education happening in schools all across India. Just last year, in only it’s second recurrence, there were 530+ delegates at the Annual IC3 Conference, which included 310+ high school delegates and 170+ university delegates. Again, having attended many educational conferences around the world, I can attest that the opportunity to learn and network at IC3 was immense.
What has been amazing about the IC3 Movement is its adaptability to constantly evolve every year. This was evident in 2017 with the addition of several IC3 Regional Forums, which essentially took the many conversations happening around education to tier II and III cities of India. In 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the IC3 Regional Forum in Lucknow, which is also the home of my ancestors. Returning to the city after more than 16 years was certainly a nostalgic experience. However, getting to meet with high school counselors and administrators not only from the city of Lucknow, but also from many other cities in the state of Uttar Pradesh, such as Varanasi and Kanpur, was an incredible experience. Often university representatives tend to focus on the major metropolitan cities when recruiting in India, however, speaking to counselors in tier II and III cities one realizes the potential and excitement of students wanting to pursue their higher education overseas. Speaking to high school counselors on a one-on-one basis at many of the IC3 Regional Forums over endless cups of Indian “chai” has truly helped me understand the ethos of the Indian education system.
This evolution has continued leading into the 2018 Annual IC3 Conference, with an exciting array of IC3 Regional Forums this past winter and spring, taking place across 18 cities and 8 different countries. This has launched the important discussion of career counseling to a global level. At the conference itself, the expanded IC3 Presidential Forum provides a platform for senior leaders from institutions all over the world to come together and build partnerships at all levels.
Also in 2018, we are going to witness the beginning of what I call a true movement in career counseling through the beginning of the IC3 Institute, which will not only take the discussion to schools that lack career counseling offices, but also provide them with training and resources to build their own laboratories of career success.
I started my journey as an international student from India. Now, I represent the University of Missouri in my home country as a professional in the field of international admissions. I have always felt the challenge of reaching out to schools in India, and connecting with administrators and students – in large part due to a lack of high school career counseling offices. Aside from some of the international schools and renowned national schools in the large, metropolitan cities of India, high school career counseling is very much non-existent. However, thanks to IC3 and the opportunity it provides by bringing a collective group of global educators from India and around the world, this challenge is becoming less and less. I believe IC3 is the answer to this challenge.