Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dean's Listers

I write this post with a lot of care and concern, meaning no harm and hurt to any of the people involved. But the least I can do after graduating is to voice these concerns which have always been at the back of my head.

Case in point: A business school with the reputation and standing of being a "Harvard of the East" and what not! 

Term in point: "Dean's list"

Now - What would any layman or any jack on the road understand from that term. That any person who makes it to that list is basically fully certified by the Dean of the "Harvard of the East" to fully be a representative or Ambassador of the institute and wholly carries all the values of the institute. Well, that is what I've always understood by a Dean's list or a mention on honor boards. I studied in the Lawrence School Lovedale which is one of the best public schools in India. We had a number of honor boards hanging in the main building of the school which basically had one or two names mentioned every year. Mind you, the school is 150 years old and hence there are a number of names in those lists already. People who get into those lists have to be exemplary in their fields. Even if you were to make it for Academic excellence, it would have to be for consistent performance. And you are judged by not one person but by about 25 different people who don't sit together to do it. And it's not necessary that there would have to be a name up there every year! We always looked at those names with awe and aspired that one day we would get up there! 

Coming now to my lovely school - "The Harvard of the East". I have absolute respect for the school and if I had to go back in time to make a decision again, I would still choose to study at the very same school. This is the very reason why I don't make a direct mention of the name since Google's search engine spiders' may get to this post and show it in a wrong light!

Before I left to come here to study, I already knew about the Dean's listers etc. I was in awe thinking it to be of something similar to the honour boards that we had back in school. I was excited and wondered if I would ever be good enough to make it to something like that. When I got here, I realized it was on the basis of only scores, which put me back a little bit as I expected more from a school such as this. Anyhow, I still kept looking to see who were the people who made it to this list and me being the critical and judgmental person that I am - would always wonder whether they deserved it or not. Most often, I found that some of the people deserved it for the hard work they put in though they should have been given a rank other than getting to a Dean's list mention.

However, I was horrified when I learnt that people could get into the Dean's list after having failed one or even two or even three subjects in past terms! They justify the same saying that those are just for that term! So how do they differentiate these people from the guys and girls who have been consistently performing over the last few terms taking care not to fail in any subject. And before I forget, this school also allows students to fail a certain number of credits and not really worry about having to complete those credits. Students can still cruise through to get their degree. All of which is good, but how could those people again have the advantage (I doubt it is one though) of putting in their resume all their life that they were on the Dean's list of this prestigious school. Better still, what if one of those organizations were to dig into that person's records and see that they had failed in a number of subjects. What would they think of our prestigious school?

I let the rest of you dig into your thoughts and justify or kill this argument. But I needed an outlet and here it is. I almost wrote this as a letter to the Dean of this prestigious school. God Bless!


Anonymous said...

now tat ur mind is tayo..

rajesh said...

Kumi nice of you to write on this topic. However I have a slightly different take on the issue. A failure in one subject or two does not take away the effort a person has put in the term in which he has been in the deans list. Also a persons capabilities cannot only be judged by whether he is in the deans list or not. Deans list can be a slight advantage for a person at the beginning of the career, however in the long term nobody cares if you are a deans list or not. You have to be in the deans list in the real world and thats what counts at the end of the day. However I do believe the system needs to be more transparent as fair. I dont think you would have come up with this topic if you had seen people in the deans list that really deserve to be there.

Kumaran said...

Rajesh, I agree totally with you on most points and I see you totally agreeing with me! I am saying, give the person a TERM's RANK if they feel he has over-performed in a term. But if the Dean is to recommend a person outside of school, the person should be someone who is always consistent and is best in class! I would even prefer if this is not done on the basis of scores alone. Let the people who score be given ranks and what not. But a Dean's list a.k.a honourable mention outside of school deserves something higher! That's my take on this.

I do believe that probably most of the people on the Dean's list deserve to be there, but I also do believe that the Dean's list should be made more inaccessible to be valued more.

Kathak - The Story Teller! said...

Kumi, skimmed through the post - sorry. But _assuming_ I got the gist of it correctly, in my opinion it doesn't matter - not in the job context. A dean's list really counts when you apply for further education. For instance in the case you were to apply for a PhD, that's where being on the Dean's list counts - in the sense the Dean would/could personally recommend you for the PhD, and it would count, and would help push you up on the list of applicants to a particular course.

In terms of job placements, it's just another decoration on your resume. In my opinion most recruiters are trained to zone out/ignore/take with a pinch of salt any such decorations. On how many resume's have you read "Consistently ranked in the top 10 of my class of 60/100/some arbit number". Do you really believe it? Do the organizations believe it? How many organizations promise that they hand pick you for certain jobs - do you believe that either?

It's all about people having fun with each other... nothing more, nothing less. Unless you plan on that PhD!

Kumaran said...

Well, I agree totally that it doesn't matter in the job context of things. To me, I am only worried about the aspirational value of the entire concept being diminished. Why don't we brand the whole thing! Let the world know, we have a list of super smart and talented people? Why, be just another school with just another list of ranks!

Just throwing thoughts out into the open! :)

Kathak - The Story Teller! said...

No no no no no no no Kumi!!!!! Essentially you will end up "de-branding" (if there is a word like that) all those who do not get on the list. That will work against the school.

If we are branding people getting onto lists, why don't we brand those getting on the admissions lists. For instance, there was a recruiter who once said that they can simply pick people off the admission list of an IIM-A (and the likes) - that's what you need to brand!! Else, you'll be perceived as a school where those on lists get recruited/valued/whatever and you will reduce the aspirational value of the school itself.