Do you recall how ecstatic you were when you were accepted into the University/College? With such high expectations for what the future holds for you.
Yes! That's exactly how I felt about the university.
When I was accepted into one of the best universities in my country to study Chemical Engineering, I was overjoyed. My decision to attend this particular university was completely based on its online ranking.
I started school on the first day, ecstatic and hopeful, but after taking a few classes, I realized this wasn't the type of university I wanted to attend. I didn't have enough information about what to expect, and to be honest, I was quite disappointed with the learning settings and environment, the stressful course registration process, and the lecture quality.
Eventually, I opted to change universities in my never-ending quest to find my dream school. My thirst for excellence prompted me to make this decision. My definition of a good school has always been determined by the institution's internet ranking.
For a while, I was pleased with my new school, but after some time, I understood that this isn't how a university/college should be and that perhaps these rankings aren't based on students' experiences, testimonials, or reviews at all. All of these university ranking systems have lost their credibility in my eyes. Most of them don't have first-hand knowledge of how students feel, and their rankings don't take students into account, despite the fact that the student is the most important component of a school.
In my search for good education, I ended up leaving my country and moving to Turkey. I was excited to be in a new country, attending a new school, and meeting new people from all over the world.
My new institution in Turkey has a lot of infrastructures, lovely people, a gorgeous campus, and everything else you might want in a university. But there was a problem, I noticed.
Last semester, I took a course with about fifty students in the class. Initially, everyone was excited to come to class but after a while, the attendance dropped. Out of curiosity, I decided to ask some of the students why they’ve not been attending classes and they all gave the same response; "we are just wasting our time here, we do not understand anything the lecturer is saying". About 10 students gave the same review and I began to think of a possible solution to this problem as I was experiencing the same issue.
Let me give you a little back story…
Earlier this year, I applied for a Software Engineering job and during the interview, I was asked about Databases. I had some knowledge about it but I sure wasn’t a professional at it. Unfortunately, I failed most of the questions asked in this regard and sadly, I lost the job. This experience made me decide that I was going to take a course on databases in the coming semester.
The semester had finally arrived, and I was really excited to enroll in a database course. I was so eager to attend the first class of this course, which was an introductory class. I'm very sure my joy was contagious to everyone in the room.
Something strange happened afterward: I felt disheartened after the second lesson, as I couldn't find the same energy I had when I started the course, and I assume this is how the students who stopped attending the class felt. I persuaded myself that I wasn't going to get anything out of this class, and I eventually gave up.
I began to think and I asked this question; How many software engineering students at my university will be qualified to work in the field after they graduate?
I have applied for a lot of Software Engineering roles in various companies.
Earlier this year, I interviewed with Facebook, and sometime last year, I interviewed with the most valuable fintech company in Europe. Unfortunately, I didn't get into any of these companies but now I know what the requirements are and the job description for Software Engineering jobs.
In a bid to solve the issue of the university ranking system, I began to think about what to do and I realized that most people make their choice of university/college based on how it is ranked by some unknown bodies that have never been to the school or even had first-hand experience of the students’ feel of the school. And if you look at all these school ranking organizations they used some other sorts of criteria, like research papers as their major factor for ranking without putting students of the school into consideration; and I strongly believe students are the most important part of any school.
Having been to three(3) universities without finding one that meets my expectations, and with the incessant thoughts of dropping out of college every day, I realized that what's most important to students is knowledge and how this knowledge is being disseminated. Students care about their courses and most importantly, how they are being taught. That's what they pay for, that's what will make them a Doctor or Lawyer they came to school for in the first place.
What if we have a ranking system that is based on students’ opinions and feedback about their universities and courses?
After ruminating on this idea for a while, I figured it would be cool. Immediately I bought the domain name <acareviews.com> and started building. While doing my research and working on this project, I discovered another problem students face is the dissemination of information and effective communication across campuses. Then I realized making students review courses alone wasn't good enough. Why don't we solve the problem of information in general? What's going on in every University should be public. Just then I had a eureka moment:
Why don't we democratize University Education?
After some research, I came up with the name SCOUTLAGE with a single goal in my mind: to democratize university education.
These are some of the reasons we are building SCOUTLAGE; by democratizing University Education, we are creating a system where students and Universities can thrive, a student-friendly ecosystem for sustainable growth.