Almost every student in the Capital who has cleared high school aspires to secure a seat in Delhi University (DU). He or she usually also faces a dilemma – whether to take up a course of choice from a lesser-known college or to settle for a course in which he or she might have little or no interest from a more popular college.
While colleges like Hindu, St Stephen’s and Shri Ram College of Commerce are likely to figure at the top of a student’s list of favourites, professor Abdul Nafey, former dean of students’ welfare, Jawaharlal Nehru University, feels that brand value of many colleges is overhyped. “Students get trapped in this pointless race between ­college and course, not realising that at the end of the day, each student will get a degree from Delhi University. As studies fill a major part of the student’s life, the best decision is to pick up a course that one is ­passionate about. If a student wants to do economics, then why should he/she choose history or philosophy for the sake of a good college? A ­student may be happy by ­choosing a college for a few months, but ultimately one needs to perform,” he says.
Professor JM Khurana, dean students’ welfare, Delhi University, is also of the opinion that students should ideally choose course over college. “Once you are keen on pursuing a course, it doesn’t really matter which college you get. Considering the results of the last few years, the students who have topped their class belonged to different colleges across DU, not just any specific college. If one chooses a course one wants to pursue, he/she will by default work hard and put in one’s best,” he says.
However, Shashi Tyagi, ­principal of Gargi College says that not every student is sure about what he/she wants to do in the future. A good college can make a huge difference by giving the required exposure to students. “A college can help a student develop his or her overall personality. A good ­college may have good facilities, faculty and a good academic ­environment allowing a healthier competition, but it is up to the student to make the best of what is offered,” she says.
Choosing a course over ­college has its own advantages. “Teachers in Delhi University are selected at a central level. Some of the best teachers get appointed in ­colleges which are not even present on the ­student’s radar. A student can not only groom himself/­herself under the ­guidance of good ­teachers, but he/she can also excel in a particular ­subject,” says Nafey.
Advising students not to ­follow the herd mentality, Tyagi says, “It is not a good idea to generalise this trend, as it is a matter of choice. A majority of students are not sure about the course they want to study. If a student knows that he/she wants to make a career in a particular subject, then he/she should go for a course. But if a student is not clear, then one can go for a popular college. Those who are confused about choosing an honours course can go for BA, BCom or BSc ­programmes. This will open many doors for them when they pursue a postgraduate course.”
How can one find the best ­combination of both course and college? The most ­important thing is to be flexible – with respect to both your course and your ­college. Make a list of what interests you and the courses that DU offers. While doing this, do refer to the syllabi of the courses.
The next step is to make a list of colleges offering these courses. Then strike down ­combinations that fit your choice. If one of them does work for you, you know where you should apply.