English Honours: An Inside Picture for all the Aspirants

Posted on June 6, 2011 in Learning+

By Nitum Jain:

DISCLAIMER: The admission process as specified in the article has now changed, and will soon be updated accordingly. The article holds true for all other information.

While the most sought-after in all of the courses in the Delhi University are the one which offer a sure-shot entry into the corporate world (BCom, Economics Honours and professional courses like BBS, BBE etc), a Bachelors degree in literature, also known as English Honours, too seems to hold a distinct attraction to aspiring students. Counted among the ‘cool’ courses, this one has many takers.

Now English Honours finds so many takers because of the large scope of career options that it still leaves open for its students even after its culmination. Despite the myth that one can only go into the teaching field after graduating from this course, one can also venture into journalism, writing, editing, go for Civil Services, MBA etc. Hence, it automatically also becomes a boon for all those who are yet indecisive about the career path they have to choose.

Its popularity had lead to concerns in the faculty circuit about whether the students choose it for the love of the subject or simply for reputation sakes where they just missed the cut-offs of the abovementioned courses but managed good enough to match the English cut-offs. — And thus CATE was hatched.

The Combined Aptitude Test for English was a means to separate people who were skilled in the ways of English language from the ones who didn’t, whatever their 12th percentage may be. It ensured that even students didn’t enter the wrong course forced by societal pressures to enter DU under a reputable degree course. This particular entrance examination allowed students who would never have gotten into the top-league colleges to get a chance to pursue their passion even if they couldn’t quite manage a good score in their Math or Physics board exams.

The details of the exam can be referred to by the aspirants from the following link: http://entrance.icbse.com/cate/

Aspirants have to keep in mind that pursuing literature is done in its truest sense at college level and is very much different from what one studies in school. One dissects popular texts and poems and the course is not just limited to the syllabi but to a general awareness of one’s surroundings. No one teaches you English here; that is taken as a prerequisite. What you do learn is using that language to address issues in the society and issues that have been prevalent in history. Sometimes students find it difficult to cope with the subject and often wonder why they were being given history and sociology lessons. But it needs to be understood that literature is a record of human civilization and thus a study of literature and human history can never be mutually exclusive.

Rigya Singh, a 1st year student of IP College for Women, and a Trainee Editor of Youth Ki Awaaz, says “It is an amazing course. Very liberating and teaches us to think outside the box. I feel very empowered doing English Honurs.”

Another of the attractions that this course holds is the less study pressure. There is nothing one has to practice (hence less homework) and nothing that you can mug up (hence no 30-day preparation before the exams). You will find many English students calling themselves or being called ‘vella’. But the truth lies in the fact that this is one course where the exams are probably the truest tests of skills; someone’s superior aptitude could never be denied in this arena. So one may not be buckling under the pressure of learning all those sentences, but the pressure of performance and the wish of super-analytical skills plague every English student out there. A few strategically placed hours in the library, a few good reference reads and tons of research can get your boat across that sea of questions which demand minimum 5 page answers each.

Currently, the best faculties for English can be found in St. Stephen’s college, Miranda House and IP College for Women in North Campus, and Jesus and Mary College and Lady Shri Ram College in South Campus. CATE is yet to be applicable in all college and many like Stephen’s still go by the rule of cut-offs (refer to the aforementioned link for a list of colleges under CATE). The course may not run in the leagues of B.Com Hons. but don’t be fooled into thinking that cut-offs would be conveniently low. DU takes out three different sets of cut-offs for each stream- Commerce, Humanities and Science. Commerce usually suffers the highest cut-offs and a few examples of English cut-offs for Commerce students (general category) from last year are:

St. Stephens College- 97%

Ramjas College- 93%

Hansraj- 92%

Even CATE cut-offs, too, are quite high and only students up to rank 400 find themselves among the best colleges. The lesson in these alarming percentage figures is that whatever the course may be, DU is a place everyone wishes to enter into. Demand is much much more than the supply and thus even aspirants for English will find similar hurdles placed in front of them as a student who wishes to get into SRCC.

On a personal note, take a deep breath and I’ll tell you a secret. English language has a lot to do with confidence, why do you think the British were so cocky? My point is, CATE is one of the easiest exams you will ever give because they don’t test what you know, they test how you see things and what you do about it. It’s all a matter of believing in what you think and then putting it in words (which should be more convincing than just impressively long). There are as many perceptions as there are people; the task is to form a more well-rounded perception, which is what this course is about, from its beginning to the very end.

For all those who wish to go for English Honours, it’ll be probably the most liberating and fun ride you’ll have in your life. Many congratulations for your results and a big ‘Good Luck’ for your CATE!

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