College is perhaps the most exciting part of a student’s life, and it is that time of the year again when another batch of young, passionate and enthusiastic students are all set to enter college. Let’s face it – choosing a college which is perfect for you isn’t easy, especially in Delhi University. I still remember how difficult it was for me to choose one among two excellent colleges – Kirori Mal or Ramjas. They seemed identical in every respect. Moreover, no student can escape the classical dilemma, of ‘course vs college’. I tried to make a rational decision by making a pros and cons list in my head, talking to seniors, reading everything I could find on the internet and what not. In the end, things worked out quite well, and two months into college, I knew I had made the right decision.
But it is an important decision to make – one that can determine what the ‘most exciting’ part of your life will be like. So, to help you make the right choice, here are a few tips:
Certain colleges provide brilliant courses in a particular field, but they might not be that good in others. So while choosing a college, don’t just pay attention to the overall reputation of the college but also the quality of the course that you want to pursue in that college. For example – the department of political science in Kirori Mal college is not considered up to the mark whereas the department of English is said to be excellent. This needs to be kept in mind while choosing a particular course in the college.
It is common to hear people say “Hey! No one really attends classes in college, so the faculty doesn’t really matter.” Well, this is not true. College is not like school where there are prescribed books like NCERT. For numerous subjects (especially humanities and social science subjects), sometimes you have to refer to multiple books for one topic. In order to obtain in-depth knowledge of the subject as well as for scoring good marks, the guidance of professors is crucial. Additionally, for pursuing further studies, students need recommendation letters, and for that, the faculty’s credentials matter a lot. Additionally, good teachers can make you fall in love with a subject and bad ones can do the opposite. Since minimum attendance is required to appear in exams, you will have to attend some classes, whether you want to or not. So do a little research and ensure that your classes are worth attending.
College societies expose students to real life challenges, a plethora of opportunities, and can help in completely transforming their personalities. Students get to learn crucial skills like time management, problem-solving, organisational and leadership skills, while passionately pursuing something they truly love. The best part is that you meet a lot of new people, outside of your course or department, who help you grow both personally and professionally. To make sure that you have a holistic college life, you must check if the college has any societies which interests you and if it can provide the level of exposure you are looking for.
To determine the latter, keep in mind that well-established societies, which are decades old, can provide you with experiences which new societies cannot. In these societies, you get to compete and learn from the best people in the Delhi University circuit. On the other hand, growing with a fairly new society and playing a crucial role in taking it to new heights can also be a self-fulfilling experience.
Life is not just fun and games. At the end of the day, most of us would want to become employable and financially independent, and good placements can give a kick start to one’s career. So do your research, and figure out in which colleges the companies of your interest come for placement and whether they offer profiles which suit you. You never know, maybe your dream company doesn’t even go to the college whose cut off you missed by 0.25%.
The image people have of your college is not everything, but it does mean something – especially if those people are recruiters or your future bosses. Call it unfair, but you do get some brownie points for being in a reputed college. A reputed college attracts better sponsors, recruiters, companies and opportunities, just because people believe that college is better than others. Like Lord Varys rightly says in “Game of Thrones” – “Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.” However, the brand name of your college can only determine so much – you need to work hard, no matter which college you end up joining.
For most of us, class 12 begins with some annoying relatives telling us, “Bas beta 12th mai man laga kar padh lo, ek bar acha college mil gaya toh zindagi set hai”. (Just put your heart and soul into studying in class 12, once you get a good college, you are set for life.)
Statements like these make a student feel that not getting a good college is the end of the world. Let me say it, as clearly as possible – the stakes are not as high as they seem. If you are driven enough, being in a ‘mediocre’ college can’t stop you. If you think that the name of your college doesn’t look good on your CV, you can do numerous internships to try and make up for the lack of opportunities. If you feel that you have not chosen the right course, do the courses of your interest or learn what you would like to learn alongside college through diploma courses or Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). If you are not happy with the opportunities in your college, join an NGO which you think will help you grow. There are many ways to enrich your college life. You are the master of your own fate. A college cannot make or break your career – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.