Gone are the days when Delhi University's (DU) School of Open Learning (SOL) was an alternative only for those securing low marks in their boards.
The SOL is increasingly becoming the first choice for the career conscious as well as for for those adept at multi-tasking.
“Our students come form three categories," said Professor HC Pokhriyal, Principal, SOL, "Those who want to do more than getting stuck with the bondage of just one course for three years, those wanting to continue with their present employment it and those who are victims of what I refer to as a 'percentage divide.'”
Many students seem to fall into Professor Pokhriyal's paradigm.
Himanshu Dhingra (17), from Kulachi Hansraj School, Ashok Vihar is interested in pursuing a foreign language course along with his graduation degree.
“Though my best of four aggregate can get me a seat at one of the off-campus colleges, I'm still going for a seat at the SOL. Since I'll be required to attend only weekend classes, I'll have time to pursue a certificate course in German from Maxmueller Bhavan.”
Agrees Nazia Khan from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Lajpat Nagar.
"I will enroll myself in the English Honours course at the SOL and then pursue a certificate course in any foreign language being offered at Ramjas College. If I have enough time—I'd like to do a short-term computer course, too,” she says.
Though embarking upon a path less taken, Dhingra and Khan are not the first to travel that road.
The SOL admitted more than two lakh students during 2006-07 .
“Around 18,000 admission forms have been sold till now and we're expecting the total number of admissions to go above 1 lakh this years,” said Professor Pokhriyal.
Vibhor Didwania, a third year student of B Com (Pass) with the SOL says, “Since both the regular college and SOL degrees are same, I opted for SOL because I wanted to work.”
Didwania's decision was vindicated.
“Now, my two years as a store manager for an international wardrobe brand have added more value to my CV than a degree from a regular college could have.”
Pranav Sachdeva, another SOL student says, “While pursuing B Com(Pass) here, I started working at the accounts section of my uncle's private firm and shifted to the accounts section at a private bank. I now work in the recovery department. I have also been preparing for CAT simultaneously.”
Pokhriyal sees the SOL as literally opening up learning for those disadvantaged by a numbers-dependent system.
“The Vice Chancellor has taken it upon himself to facilitate students on the wrong side of the percentage-divide," he says. “We believe every student has potential and committed ourselves to helping those who are merely victims of their circumstances."