When I decided that I was going to prepare for UPSC Civil Services Exam, the next major decision was whether to join a coaching class or not. Back then, online content had just begun to come up. Hence, whether to join a coaching or to study online was not even a question. But online content has matured a lot in last 4 years. So a major question among aspirants starting their preparation now is whether they should join a classroom, or whether they can prepare effectively for civil services relying solely on online content.
The Best Coaching for UPSC
Many students fall prey to the following thought process — “I do not mind spending money, but I want the best coaching. If XYZ is considered the best coaching, I will join it.” But is the best coaching really the best choice? It is really hard to justify the cost of attending so-called premier coaching classes. They charge a student around 1.5 lakhs for GS Coaching. Despite paying such high fees, a student is made to attend class in a batch of 300 to 400 students. Individual doubt discussion and personalised attention is almost impossible. The pace at which class progresses is determined by the slowest student of the class. Most importantly, the teaching patterns refuse to evolve with time.
The harsh reality is that in today’s time when content is so freely available online, offline coaching is actually highly inefficient. What could be taught in just 3 months, they teach the same thing in about 10 months. And thus waste 3 to 4 precious hours everyday. Similar thoughts were echoed by Gaurav Agarwal (AIR 1, CSE 2013) as well. You can read his views on coachings here. Apart from this, one has to move to a coaching hub like Delhi to be able to attend such coachings.
Coaching v/s Mentorship
When I was preparing for Civil Services Exam, I always felt if there was some mentor who could help me strategize and provide me study sources, rest I can handle myself, without any coaching. This is even more true today. The truth is that UPSC is 99% about self study and only 1% about guidance. That 1% guidance has to be extremely minimal, to the point and effective.
Hence, my hypothesis, that in today’s digital world, classroom coaching for UPSC Civil Services is redundant and a huge waste of time and money. But the flip-side of online content is that so much content becomes available, it becomes almost impossible for a fresh aspirant to filter out the relevant content. Thus, mentorship is the need of the day. Someone who could help you decide what to study and what not to study. Someone experienced to help you strategise and motivate. Someone who is capable of resolving your conceptual doubts. Someone who keeps monitoring your progress and provides you the feedback on what and how to improve, while you could invest your full energy in studying what is prescribed.
Preparing for UPSC from Home
Another traditional belief has been that to prepare well for Civil Services, one has to physically move to a hub like Delhi to attend these premier coaching classes. But with the flooding of online content and penetration of internet along with laptops and smartphones, content has become democratised. All an aspirant needs is a mentor who could provide her the right guidance. Such guidance could also be provided online, over telephone and internet. So, my second hypothesis is that UPSC preparation could now be done even more effectively online as compared to a coaching in a hub like Delhi.
Mission UPSC 2018
Based on these beliefs, I have started a mentorship program in association with Eckovation, called ‘Mission UPSC 2018’. In this program, I will mentor a small batch of students. I will help each student create a clear strategy and timeline for next one year. This strategy will be personalised for each student. Based on it, I will help set up monthly and weekly targets for the aspirant. I will help select and prioritize reading material. I will help resolve conceptual doubts. All this assistance will be online, so it also becomes possible for aspirants sitting anywhere in the country to prepare in the best possible manner without having to physically shift to Delhi. Most importantly, I will provide assistance on demand only where it is required, thus minimizing the interference and allowing the aspirant to give maximum time to self study, which is what the UPSC Civil Services Exam is all about.
For more details about the program, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at +917974071594.
To join the program, follow these steps:
1. Download Eckovation app
2. Join the UPSC study group with Group Code: 873541