Admission Season

A Peek at the College vs Course Dilemma

While getting into DU is one thing, making a choice between a more preferred course at a less preferred college, or a less preferred course at a more preferred college is another. The fact that most cut-off requirements – especially those at the higher end – tend to overlap with each other, only compounds the headache.

“I was eligible for X course at Y college, but I ultimately chose P course at Q college”.

If one were to compile a list of common words and phrases – DU lingo – synonymous with DU students, in order of frequency, the aforementioned statement, or slight variations of the same would be comfortably placed in the top 10. Freshly out of high school, a significant proportion of students across the country aspire to get into Delhi University, and almost always with a preferred “first-choice” college and a preferred “first-choice” course in mind. But with DU’s tradition of releasing astronomically high cut-off and the frequent occurrence of pivotal divisions and close-shaves due to a mere percentage deficit of 0.25 or 0.5, one isn’t always successful in bagging one’s first choices and has to settle for a compromise with regards to the college vs course.

To cite a broad example, say a student considers Economics Honours and St. Stephen’s College as his/her preferred “first-choice” course and college respectively. Unfortunately, this student doesn’t qualify for the Economics cut-offs at St. Stephen’s. As this student assesses other alternatives for which he/she is eligible, two primary options materialize – B.A Programme at St. Stephen’s College and Economics Honours at Kirori Mal College. Now, if the student chooses the former, it can be classified as a case of “college over the course”, and if the student chooses the latter, it shall be classified as a case of “course over college”. (Note: The examples cited above are based on guesstimates and not real-time data, and the choices are based on the assumed individual preferences of the hypothetical student and are not an indicator of the merit of the courses or the colleges mentioned above.)

Looking at the “college vs course” case, a primary argument offered by people in its favor is that the main beneficiary component of one’s DU college life is the “DU experience” and not the academics component, which they claim is “below-par” at every college, thus nullifying the effect that it has on one’s career.

I strongly feel that the overall atmosphere and culture of the college, in terms of the crowd, the societies, the festivals and webinars, the debates and the discussions – these shape a person far more than what his/her course does.

Mahima Jain, a student at a prominent North Campus college, opined.

As for the “course vs college” case, one argument put forward by proponents of the same is that one’s progression to the next stage – whether it’s higher education or a professional career – is influenced more by the course that one pursues rather than the college that the person studied at. Besides, a popular claim is that most colleges offer a uniform quality of education and faculty in terms of a specific course, hence choosing X course at Y college, instead of Z college doesn’t make much of a difference.

If someone interested in History chooses Statistics for the sake of getting into a reputed college, will he/she be able to excel in the subject? I wouldn’t refute it entirely, but the chances of not excelling are far higher than the chances of excelling. And even if we don’t take into account whether he/she excels or not, one can certainly say that the enjoyment and stimulation that he/she manages to procure from studying Statistics shall be far less than what he/she would have managed to procure from History. Apart from that, courses like Economics and Commerce offer lucrative employability right after graduation. Hence, for someone looking to get a decent corporate job after college, choosing Commerce over, say, Sociology would be a foolhardy decision, at least to me.

Naman Gulati, a student at a prominent Outer Campus college, opined.

On a concluding note, the basic essence of the “college vs course” debate is that it can never exactly be solved. With the existence of numerous colleges and courses, coupled with applications from tens of thousands of students every year, each with one’s own individual preferences and aspirations, and further bolstered by the ever-changing dynamics of the professional world, the answer to the debate shall always be relative from case to case, and applicant to applicant. But to leave you with a passing thought, once you do choose a particular path after going through the dilemma mentioned above, the only choice that remains is to make it work.

Araba Kongbam

Featured Image Credits: Wall Flare


Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history.Freedom to Express.