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‘Teachers are storehouses of knowledge’

Apeejay alumna and Founder of AptiGuide Institute Priyanka Chopra says teachers have the magic to re-invent learning experiences for students and guide them in the best possible way



A vocab expert with MA in English, Priyanka Chopra is a personality development trainer with several years of experience in training aspirants for different language proficiency tests such as IELTS, TOEFL and other foreign entrance tests like SAT, GRE, GMAT. She is the Founder of AptiGuide Institute in Jalandhar, who believes in implementing unique teaching and training methodology, to nurture each student. The Apeejay alumna proudly expresses, “It gives me so much pride to live up to the expectations of students and parents. My students have also received scholarships worth Rs 1.5 crore and are studying in premier institutes of India, US, Canada and UK.” In this interview, the women entrepreneur shares what inspired her to launch AptiGuide and explains how she as well as her team are investing in each and every students’ career success. Read edited excerpts: 

How did this journey start?

After completing my Commerce with Mathematics in class 12, I was pretty determined I will go ahead with B Com Honours and also because that happened to be the most lucrative option back then. But I realised during my graduation that I was more interested in Humanities, specifically English. That’s what I did – I pursued a Master’s in English. I also remember a fine discussion with one of my teachers who encouraged me to fulfill my passion of studying English. She had noticed my essay and blog writing skills and how I speak on podiums or during elocution competition. I remember getting awards in college. I did my English from Punjab University  where I became the university topper. 

I had started teaching in an institute while I was pursuing post graduation. I was giving verbal training sessions to students and that helped many of them crack reading comprehension, vocabulary-based questions, critical reasoning based questions. My education in English was definitely helping me explain to students in a better way. Gradually, I started teaching students for CAT, GRE, GMAT and SAT. I taught aspirants who were preparing for government and bank exams, for CLAT or BBA entrance tests. And that’s how my love for teaching evolved me and evolved my teaching style. Eventually, I launched my teaching institute, AptiGuide.

Today, it gives me so much pride to live up to their expectations of students and parents. My students have also received scholarships worth Rs 1.5 crore and are studying in premier institutes of India, US, Canada and UK. 

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Why did you choose to start something in this line?

I remember my father told us that he did not want us to follow a pattern mostly girls followed back then in Punjab, that is getting married at an early age or looking for somebody to make life better in terms of catering to their financial needs. He always emphasised that I need to make my life all by myself. I was never aware of the kind of family I belonged to while I was growing up – if I was rich or not. That’s because my father never shared what he made, he kept it secretive because he never wanted us to flaunt how much it takes to make something. That inspired me to launch my own business. I was sure of launching my own business. Aptiguide is the result of my love and passion. This entrepreneurial journey has been more of taking care of each and every students’ needs. This has been my professional journey where my only priorities have been my students.

Tell us about your organisation? 

Aptiguide is an educational preparation institute. We are taking care of entrance tests like CAT, GRE, GMAT, IELTS , SST, Banking entrance test for graduate students. And for undergraduate students, we are preparing them for CLAT , BBA , CUET,  SAT, and other entrance exams. Apart from that, we have also opened AptiGuide Global Consultancy through which we help students find the perfect college. We hold counselling sessions and find alternate options for pursuing a programme in India or abroad. The entire process right from building strong documents, creating SOPs to many other intricacies like applications, essays, curriculum vitae are done under our supervision. We also take care of visas. I also prepare students for personality development programmes, where we take care of micro-presentations, prepare them for one minute topics, group discussions, debate, personal interviews, and essay writing. It’s more of my baby than an organisation and that baby takes care of all the babies who come here. 

Generally word of mouth and results are the best means of promoting a coaching institute. What are various marketing strategies that your coaching institute has adopted and which ones have been most fruitful?

Honestly, I feel nothing beats word of mouth. The best strategy any coaching institute should adopt would be taking maximum care of their students and if they are able to come up with very good results, I think nothing can beat that combination. You need to shower care on your students and be available for them. You need to instill that faith in them that they can move mountains and encourage them to put in their best efforts. Students would never feel astray and they would always perform to the best of their abilities. These you need to invest in your students. You need to be in touch with their parents and guardians – so that’s the best strategy and they are going to be the result bearers. Good promotion is all about showcasing true results. When students share organic feedback or their experiences, that’s an achievement for any coaching institute. That rawness can attract more students. 

In recent years, online coaching has become increasingly popular. What are the benefits of online coaching?

I feel online coaching is gaining a lot of popularity. You can sit at the comfort of your home and get education from everywhere. Online coaching has removed barriers, you need to speak to your teachers – you can connect with them at the most comfortable time. You won’t have to travel from far and beyond. All those feelings of not going to the institute physically have really cut down on travelling costs. It is also saving the environment because you are not really using your vehicles. You are not dependent on others. You can just be at the comfort of your own bed or study table and get access to any kind of education. This online education has helped us to be on our toes all the time. You may not be able to feel each other physically, but the warmth of the speech from the other side of the screen or that feeling of being there just a screen away is beautiful. Students during online classes can still be very disciplined and learn.  

Do you think a time may come when online coaching can replace offline coaching or teachers?

Well, I am very sure this is no more difficult time. It’s true we have witnessed how online education platforms like BYJU’S, Unacademy, WhiteHat Jr, all of them have gained popularity over time. But I also feel the teacher’s warmth, that physical watch and supervision, that rawness of your speech or the fact that the teacher is asking you to focus, that can never be replaced. Offline coaching is no longer spoon feeding coaching. It is something that a child needs after a one point of time, especially after the pandemic, when I met my students, that whole surrounding with students chatting, asking doubts, spending time with each other got recreated once again. Offline coaching is something that can never be replaced.  

What steps do teachers or mentors take to prepare themselves for mentoring students?

I think teachers or mentors play a key role in influencing their students. Hence, they need to be themselves and students build trust in their teachers. That is something I have learnt through experience. Additionally, when it comes to preparing, teachers need to open themselves to a lot of different questions. She/he should not be only relying on obsolete and traditional methods of teaching. Adopt and adapt new pedagogies to make your classes interactive while giving real-life examples. Teaching students using inspirational real-life examples helps students understand the concepts beautifully . Teachers need to come up with different pedagogy strategies at least a day prior. The ability to connect with students helps teachers to deliver lectures properly. 

What do you recommend-to go straight for your own venture or to gather industry experience initially, before taking up entrepreneurship?

I think it’s best to learn from your guide; it is best to learn from teachers; to work at some place where you draw experiences and make a list of do’s and don’ts. When it comes to me before opening my venture, I remember going to other ventures and preparing my list of things I like and I don’t. I feel this process helped me a lot in understanding what all I must implement and what I should strike off the list.

Your piece of advice for students and parents?

I always say student life is one of the best phases. As a student, you must always experiment, take up new challenges and constantly ask yourself ‘do you like this’. I feel students need to understand that rot learning is not going to take them to places. They should always focus on understanding practical things, as well as try each and everything before settling for a career. I feel that they shouldn’t be really picking up something only because their friends did or because it’s considered nice. There are so many options and so prepare yourself that suits your personality the best. Student life will never come back and so you need to make the most of it – study hard, make friends, create memories and be helpful to each other. Talk to your teachers, tell them about your aspirations, ask their advice – teachers are storehouses of knowledge. They hold so much experience and that’s why they will always guide you in the best possible manner. Whatever battle you’re facing, if you’re true and honest, you will not fail to reach your goal

For parents, trust your children. Parents need to understand what their child is capable of; don’t force your expectations on them. You need to understand what they are good at. Parents are the best gurus as you are living with your kids – so help them identify what they like and understand what they want. Attend career counselling workshops with them,  find out avenues and help your child grow in that particular field. Embrace your child’s abilities and potential. All the best! 

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.

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