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What it takes to get into it.
[Text by Antara Raghavan; she finished her schooling in 2009. This is her first person account of what it is like to seek admission in Delhi University (DU), a place coveted by thousands of students from all over India; pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
North Campus: I am in an unmoving queue, it’s nearly 40 degrees outside and I have an uneasy, if illogical, feeling that I’ve filled out the application form wrong.
Welcome to admissions agony in DU, 2009. Only those who are going through it know what it is really like. It is a slow, seemingly never-ending journey of boredom and anxiety spread over four to six weeks during the hottest months of the year.
Rushing from college to college, collecting forms, and the indescribable frustration of being told (admittedly quite politely) that either one does not have the specific form required, or that one of your subjects will have negative marking, is, alas, all too common. What it means is another mile-long queue to start the cycle again.
If one has done reasonably, but not brilliantly, well then the path to college is a bumpy ride. Everyone tells you that it is much better than it was: I am sure in the old days the application procedure must have turned away many potential geniuses permanently from all thoughts of higher education. But even today the amount of certificates, recommendations and letters needed would fill a nine-storey building. And the list keeps growing.
Compounding this are the chirpy, ever-so-helpful student volunteers of each college. Under their sweet politeness lurks the knowledge that they are precisely where they want to be, and their assessment of your chances are not high.
I, for one, have been to six schools in four countries. By the time I had more or less settled down and figured out the route from classroom to canteen, the time for anything more than simply staying afloat academically had passed.
So apart from the minority — the 99 per centers who have participated in every quiz, concert and debate (with the certificates to prove it) since they bounced into nursery school at the age of three — for the rest of us aspirants, the path is considerably thornier.
But one is kept hopeful by the thought that this is only an obstacle course to what all the youth of India dream of — a good Delhi University college and the subject of one’s choice.
Admission seekers at Hindu College
Life at Lady Shri Ram College for Girls
Boys' Hostel, Hans Raj College
Going creative at Miranda House College
Another scene at Miranda House
University students outside the Vishvidhyalaya metro station
Another cyclist in the North Campus
Good times at St. Stephen's College
Filling the admission form at Hindu College
University aspirants in the North Campus
Outsideer! at Kirori Mal College
Only for girls (really?), at Kirori Mal College
Form-ing the future
Aspirants outside Hindu College
A room of their own (at St. Stephen's College)