In an interview, Sonia Kapoor Soni discusses about what goes on in the minds of those who decide a student’s destiny. Here is an excerpt:

Q: When should students start working on their  university application?

A: Grade VIII. First, we advise them to imagine what career they want to pursue and work backwards. Which subject will help you get there and what college to study it are the next steps. It’s not necessary that you look at universities abroad. There are good universities in India too.

Q: Does taking a gap year, which is a popular trend, hamper prospect of grabbing a seat in the university?

A: This perception has changed. What’s important is how a student spends the year. Those whose applications get strengthened after having taken a gap year are academically strong. They take internships to enrich their journey. This is what universities are looking for.

Q: How important is an internship?

A: A summer internship plays key role in shaping career. For instance, a girl student wanted to be an artist. After doing internship at a studio, she realised that she was curious about the market and selling art. So, she ended up joining a management course.

Q: How does the students ensure  picks the right university?

A: The choice determines their path to the right job, right career, right environment, even the right partners. That's why you need to spend time weighing possibilities. In India, parents spend as much as 70 percent of their income on their kids’ education. We need to ask ourselves that will he/she be happy there?

Q: What does a university look for in the statement of purpose (SOP)?

A: SOP plays important role in the universities in US and UK. This is the reason why I say, ‘do it yourself’. Don’t hire someone to do it. Even in our school, we get students to work on the SOP independently. We may help them improve upon it, but they must write it.

Q: Any specific placement you would like to highlight?

A: At Aditya Birla, we celebrate each and every placement if we believe it’s a perfect match between the students’ aspirations and career prospects ahead. We celebrate it all from a budding chef at Les Rochees to a musician at Berklee, an entrepreneur at NYU Stern, CITY, UCL, UCLA and University of Chicago, an ambitious researcher at Brown and Imperial, an aspiring engineer at Georgia Tech and Birmingham and management at UBC, Warwick and USC.