If you try searching answer to this question on the web, you’ll find each and every institute portraying itself as the best.
Should you believe those answers then? Instead ask yourself what exactly defines a “best institute” or an institute where you would like to learn. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself.
Who is the trainer of the course?
Would you learn from someone who is a university prof and has never worked in the industry and hence doesn’t know the practical applications?
Or would you learn from someone who has just completed a course and for want of anything else to do has started teaching? Or would you learn from someone who probably has less than a years worth of experience?
Or would you rather learn from data scientists who have spent at least 3 years in the industry, worked on multiple business problems from different domains, faced various tricky situations and know the tips and tricks which when taught to you would enable you to be a cut above the rest?
You will find institutes with each of such kind of faculty and your answer should be obvious. Rate each of your institutes under consideration on this parameter out of 15 points.
Also why have I rated this factor higher than jobs or placements. That’s because while an institute may or may not succeed in getting you a job, if you are trained well then you yourself will find a job on your own.
How to judge the quality of course content?
How good is the curriculum in terms of the coverage of the field? Does it cover all the requirements of the industry to help you be effective in interviews?
Does it start from the basics and properly cover them, if you are a newbie? Is the course duration sufficient to cover all the topics effectively or is it too short or long?
There are many institutes providing you courses which are between 20 hours and 300 hours. Some will just provide an overview of the topics while others will unnecessarily elongate everything and add in pointless topics so as to charge you more money under the guise of a university diploma.
Remember higher the no. of hours or more the modules doesn’t mean its a good curriculum. Again better the curriculum, better your learning and better your chances of a job.
What Kind of case studies does course include?
How can you rate content when you don’t have access to it? What you have to do is look at the practical aspects of the curriculum. Figure out whether each of the modules are explained using practical examples or not?
Ask how many case studies and assignments are there? Check if those case studies are reasonably good enough to help you understand the module. Don’t bother about size of data etc. as that’s meaningless.
Check how many projects do you get to work on? These projects are important because that’s what you will eventually put on your CV to get a job. So these projects should be good and possibly from different domains.
The more practical the content, better your learning and better your chances of a job.
What kind of support does the institute give?
Is there anyone working full-time in the institute who can help resolve your doubts outside the class, as the faculty maybe a working professional with no time during non-class days?
How good is the support and how many different channels of support are available? Apart from this you need to figure out how flexible is the institute with regards to your issues.
Do they allow you to transfer batches if you can’t continue in your current one? Do they allow you to extend any submission deadlines as you maybe a busy working professional?
On the whole, how supportive are they of you having a comfortable and good learning experience. Checking past reviews would help here. Better the support, better your learning and better your chances of a job.
How good are the reviews – Watch out carefully here!
How good are the reviews for the institute so far? Yes, reviews on websites would obviously be good but check third party reviews like Quora reviews for instance to see what other students have felt in the past. Look at the ratio of negative to positive reviews.
Does Certification Really matter?
Many of you may feel that this a very important criteria. However as far as certifications go, data science employers are not that concerned. You will hardly find any job description which asks for a particular institute certification. All they are looking for is hands-on project work.
Yes a good certificate will help your resume stand-out but what kind of certificate? For a certificate to stand-out on your resume. it has to be something rare and hard to get.
Just like an IIT stands out on the resume vs. a local engineering college, similarly the certificate is something which should be hard to get. Hence certificates from Coursera, Edx, Udemy etc. just won’t count as tens of thousands will have one.
Corporate tie-ups for a certification are even more useless because if that particular corporate doesn’t hire you, then no one else would.
Instead to gauge the value of an institute’s certificate you should look at the no. of company association’s it has in terms of training corporate employees. This does get a bit complex though as many institutes would just put up a list of companies without having any associations with them.
How to evaluate placements?
No institute on earth including the top universities of the world would give you any kind of placement guarantee’s. So let’s get that out of the way.
Think like the grown-up that you are and realise that getting a job at this career stage is 80% in your hands and 20% in the institute’s.
Yes, many institute’s will assert that they have 100% placements etc. and some will even say “100% placement assistance” or “100% placement support” in a bid to make it look as if they provide jobs to everyone whereas all they are going to do is provide assistance of some sort.
Don’t bother asking for placement records as you will only end up with a random statistic. Instead what you need to see is how well they can assist you in getting a job because face it getting a job is in your hands.
Check if they will help you with creating a good resume, preparing for interviews and the kind of opportunities and companies that come to them looking to hire. Check the success stories of their students and talk to those people. Check the third party reviews.
If any institute ever talks about giving you guaranteed placements, take it in writing from them with all the relevant terms and conditions along with the companies, roles and salaries offered. If the same is refused or offered partially don’t believe them. Also get a money-back guarantee in writing if they fail to place you.
Should Fees be a consideration?
Eventually fees will matter though the amount should not be the criteria. Of course your paying or borrowing capacity will eventually decide which institute you select but remember just because an institute is cheap doesn’t mean that is what you should select. The criteria should be where you are getting your bang for the buck. Where on the above criteria do you get the most value for the fee you have to pay is what should help you decide.