Very often students seeking admission to Delhi University forgo the subject of their choice and switch to an alternative subject just to get into a popular college. “Such is the appeal of the top notch colleges of this city across the country,” says RK Shivpuri, advisor, University of Delhi.
But does this switch make sense in the long run? “Not at all. I would strongly advice against it,” says Poonam Sethi, head of department, BCom (hons), Hindu College. She explains, “Ultimately all the colleges of Delhi University offer the same level of instruction in all subjects. This is because the appointment of professors is governed by a uniform set of rules. So, students should not compromise on their initial choice of subject just to qualify for a seat in the top ten colleges. Instead they should enroll in any college where their names appear in the first cut-off list in terms of the preferred subject.” This approach is safe and does not leave room for regrets. “Later if the student’s name (in relation to the first choice of subject) features in the second or third cut-off list of the better ranked colleges, the possibility of taking a transfer always exists. The best part is that the process of transfer is hassle-free and there is no penalty to be incurred,” says Sethi.
Talking about the challenges that are evident when students forsake subjects of their choice, Sethi says, “I have seen several instances when students of science opt for a humanities subject or the commerce stream in order to study in their dream college. Then they have a tough time reorienting to a field of study which is very different from Class 12. Also, it has been seen that many such students who do not fare well in their first year exams again apply for the original subject of their choice in a different college. This leads to unnecessary stress and wastage of time.” Adding to this observation Shivpuri says, “It is a general misconception that students of science are bright enough to effortlessly take on almost every academic subject. The truth is that while students of science are comfortable with concepts, formulas, numbers and technology they do find it challenging to tackle subjects that entail discourse, analysis or marketing concepts.”
All academicians agree that it is the degree of the university that ultimately matters and not the college. Why is there so much hype about some specific colleges? Why have many such institutes become brand names? “Because of the alumni and the consistent track record of good results,” says Baljeet Kaur, an assistant professor in the department of computer science at Hansraj College. “Learning opportunities not just in academics but also in extra curricular spheres are abounding in each college and it is ultimately upon individual students to make the most of their college experience. And this is where students need to introspect and understand their strengths and preferences so that they can build upon the same,” she continues.
So what are the things that make for a fruitful experience during graduation? “These are the threshold years into adult life and hence all-round development needs to take place. And for this to happen it is best to approach college life with an open mind,” says Kaur. “All experiences good and bad need to be viewed as lessons in preparation for the life ahead. Overcaution or inhibition towards anything at this stage is not good and youngsters should seek and welcome new learning experiences and expand their intellectual and social circumference,” she adds. Today many students opt for vocational courses right after passing Class 12 as they feel that a three year graduation degree is a waste of time and does not really fit into their scheme of future career plans. “While as a society we have to be flexible in our acceptance of all kinds of choices that students make the value of a graduation degree cannot be discounted,” says Kaur. “Most students after completing Class 12 are not in a position to determine their real calling. Hence, a three-year graduation degree gives ample time to the young people to make a more informed choice. A person armed with a graduation degree also has a plethora of career and academic choices as compared to someone with a vocational degree or diploma,” sums up Shivpuri.