Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Campus Life – Delhi University Dreams

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Photo Essay – St Stephen’s College, North Campus

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

Campus Life – Delhi University Dreams

Life at Lady Shri Ram College for Girls

Theater Queens

Boys' Hostel, Hans Raj College

Somewhere in Delhi

Going creative at Miranda House College

College Creativity

Another scene at Miranda House

Yaari Dosti - II

University students outside the Vishvidhyalaya metro station

Bicycle Diaries

Another cyclist in the North Campus

Somewhere in Delhi

Good times at St. Stephen's College

Photo Essay – St Stephen’s College, North Campus

Filling the admission form at Hindu College

Somewhere in Delhi

University aspirants in the North Campus

Somewhere in Delhi

Outsideer! at Kirori Mal College


Only for girls (really?), at Kirori Mal College

Oh, Really?

Form-ing the future

Form Phobia

Aspirants outside Hindu College

Campus Life – Delhi University Dreams

A room of their own (at St. Stephen's College)

Photo Essay – St Stephen’s College, North Campus


LumousP said...

Thats the utterly stupid system of getting into a college that India proudly has.

Ibanov, Sir Rekaf said...

I remember running around for admissions 5 years back. It was 2004 - the year they introduced the Intelligent Character Reader (ICR) forms with great fanfare. But one could never rule out teething troubles, so each college also had their own admission process as was the norm - and us, the hapless admission seekers, ran from college to college and stood in mile-long queues hoping to get into a course of our choice in one of the reputed colleges in the intolerable heat.

In the end, the clutch of certificates did not come in handy (quizzers are shunned by their peers and the academicians alike), scoring heavily in 10th did not turn out to be an excuse for not performing similarly in the all-important 12th boards and all the interviews that I gave were clearly rigged - unless you have insane marks and an all-round extra-curricular background,you need some serious contacts.

And after a couple of months of running around and travelling 50 kms everyday (including return journey of course), it all amounted to nothing - an average course in an obscure (albeit academically reputed) college.

Hotels in Delhi said...

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Anonymous said...

i remember running to each n every college seven year back n still remember that we all enjoyed a lot. Even though sun was burning red on top of our head but some how we enjoyed the whole process and going to each n every college canteen from north to south and from east to west. Small toddlers straight out of school running for admission it was fun. But when one get admission in good college each n every day seemed worth it.I got through best colleges. For me the system is nice but can be improved more.

Anonymous said...

having been single , this post has loads of eye candy....

okay jokes apart..well i remember 2 year back when the temp was like 44 degrees at this time..consider youselves lucky....

Nice story from an inside perspective


Anonymous said...

I don't know why the students are so particular about colleges. It is the course that one should focus on. all the colleges are good, some are better known for some courses. That's all.

When I was a student (very long time ago), I spent precisely one day in the admission process, applying for 3 courses in a South Campus college. One just bought the form and submitted it. There were no queues. The 4 cut-off lists will tell you where you can be selected.

Analytically Demented said...

just a year back.... Had form posted to me and then, after filling it,I reposted it for submission ( really lucky, reading about the perils here). Strangely, hadn't any fear- guess, the numbness due to chronic-depression was actually helpful. Just had the cut-off business. Overall, smooth.

Debashish said...

I dont get it...why do ppl have to run to every single college?there's a common application form jissay you can apply to all colleges...
that and the stephen's form....
i actually enjoyed my time in the north campus. was very excited...and constantly day-dreaming about my life in delhi.
I was sitting and filling up a form at kirori mal wen someone sneaked up upon me,clicked a pic and ran away...and i saw it here - nice surprise, bad pic(sorry).its the one that says "form-ing the future". anyway i do agree with saaki...

namrata khetrapal said...

The path to success is never easy.Delhi University stands for excellence and brilliance.Its the mecca for learning the way of life.
The immense popularity that DU enjoys in the country and oversees presently, is hugely responsible for the maddening rush every year at the admissions time.
I vividly recall my time in 2004 as a baffled teenager, unknown to the ways of the world, arriving at the famed north campus.It intrigued me! The endless lines, the crowd, the gamut of admission seekers, the very charm of it all was over whelming.
The ICR being newly introduced that time looked appealing, it did save us a lot of effort.I agree, the authorities do need to take certain strategic decisions and implement them in order to smoothen the process for the aspirants.
With every passing year, the rush for admissions is increasing by leaps and bounds along with the cut offs.The lucky few get the college and the course of their choice ,whereas, others have to settle down for different and perhaps not so likable options available.
The on campus residence being extremely limited is also another issue of concern for non-delhitites for which they have to run an extra mile.
Admissions at DU is an amazing experience.People who have lived it know what I am talking about! :)

HIMANI said...

Gosh..you are so right..i am facing the harassment right now(trying to tak admission in M.A. English)..i think they should just tel us to take a month off from work, if we want the DU brand..

Vishal said...

Antiquated Indian education system with emphasis on rote leearning and getting marks rather than crativity and developning analytical skills....... sucks........