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The prison of the semester system

When I came to DU a year ago, my bag was heavier with ‘to-do lists’ rather than books. Seminars, fests, assignments, attendance, exams, forms— there was just so much balancing to do and only so much I could manage. It has been a year now, but things remain the same. There are no conspicuous differences between the lives of a nine-to-five corporate workaholic and an average DU student, trapped in the semester mode. We are all prisoners. We are all turning into stereotypes.

The semester system was introduced with plenty of good intentions. Last year, CBCS hopped into the bandwagon too. There are now multiple courses to complete in a single semester, regardless of the fact that most of them are not a “choice”. Teachers are wiping their anxious brows on one hand, and students on the other. The former clench their teeth because students do not have the time to interact with them, or form a concrete perspective at the end of three years. Meanwhile, the latter must deal with clashing entrance exams and semester exams, tiptoeing precariously on the line in-between.

“I don’t have the time to study and enjoy events simultaneously during the semester. We all get incredibly busy. But the moment a semester ends, we have absolutely nothing to do,” claims Neha Nara, a second year student from Sri Venkateswara college. This is a common problem faced by many. The capitalist structure denies time for leisure. When we must and do get accustomed to being ‘busy’ every second of every single day, how much of ‘free’ vacation time can we truly handle? For some, taking a long, uninterrupted break can become an unbearable thought.

Societies demand the kind of dedication which only a few can manage in a whirlwind of regular internals and exams. Additionally, it becomes an uphill climb to maintain that spotless attendance record. It fetches marks at the end of a semester, after all. There is hardly any time to fall sick, let alone ‘bunk’ a few classes which may not hold our interest. Student life has ceased to be idyllic. This is what I realised at the end of a year.

From a bird’s-eye view, it is possible to get a degree from a reputed college today. But how much ‘knowledge’ does someone like me truly gain in three years? In fact, what sort of graduates are we churning out in this system? We are mutely witnessing one semester after the other fly out of our reach, college-life coming to an end, while a seemingly unsteady future awaits us outside the gates.

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Deepannita Misra




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