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The Cut-Throat Cult of College Competitions

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The hustle culture at DU is never-ending. Just when you feel you can take a breather, the competition season arrives—the politics, the implications, and, most importantly, the cut-throat rivalry. Just winning a prize is not enough anymore. The hierarchies add a different dimension to an already competitive environment. Read on to find out a first-year student’s account and reflections on the competition season at DU.

Congratulations! You just cracked the Common University Entrance Exam (CUET), surpassing lakhs of students to get admission at Delhi University (DU). You have just started to dip your toes into the hustle culture that perpetuates every fiber of this prestigious university. In a fit of enthusiasm and a promise of progress, you inevitably fall into the maze of toxic society culture. You feel absolutely desolate and frustrated, but at least the fest season is approaching. In a fit of hope, you drag yourself through the tedious internal and semester examinations. You are on the brink of exhaustion, but at least now you rightfully deserve to celebrate during the fest season. However, something surprises you. You overhear murmured whispers among students discussing the competitions they will be participating in during college fests. Welcome to the plight of college students.

What are these Competitions?

By competitions, we are essentially referring to the events conducted by specific departments and societies during their annual fest. Competitions are an opportunity for departments and societies to interact with students from other colleges, leading to a lively spirit of collaboration. Among the most popular are case study competitions, slam poetry competitions, debate competitions, and quizzes. Participants are expected to register through Unstop and pass through the preliminary rounds before being shortlisted for further rounds. The hefty prizes as well as the CV boost incentivize the participants to compete with hundreds of other contestants scattered across the University.

This competition culture is a very integral part of the cultural intricacies that dominate DU. The close affiliation of colleges and their interconnected functioning play an essential role in organising competitions in such capacities. This allows students to easily navigate, network, build connections across various colleges, and participate. The number of colleges and the vast number of events that are conducted provide a plethora of opportunities for students to find a competition suitable for their niche interests.

“Immediately after our academic symposium, the craze to participate in competitions has shot up. It’s like everybody is on Unstop looking for case competitions suddenly. It feels like apart from academics, one must excel at this too” – Manvi Goel, a first-year student lamented.

The Politics of Competitions

Similar to most things in life, there is a fraction of luck involved in the process of participating in these competitions. It all begins with finding the right partner. Usually, most competitions require participation in teams of two to four, and so the hunt for the right partner begins. Working with the right partner greatly increases the morale of the student, and with the right efforts, their teamwork can drive them to great heights. Specifically, in the context of competitions, your rapport with your partner plays an important role, and your complementary attitudes will reflect heavily during the presentation of your competition.

“Mostly in competitions, the rounds that come up are extremely on the stop. If you have a good rapport with your partner, you will be able to explain things better, and your partner will be able to understand it well and translate it into better content for the presentation or explain it while answering during Q&A rounds. In case you are not comfortable with your team members, you will not be able to deliver to your 100% potential. Having that rapport gives you the encouragement that whatever may be the consequence, we did our best and we learned so much, and it then develops into a really nice friendship.” – Dhaani Sood, a first-year student discussed.

However, finding the right partner is a tumultuous task. This is certainly where the element of luck comes into play. Usually, students choose to partner with their friends because a background of understanding has already been established. However, when your friend circle is inclined towards different interests, reaching out to try and build a network outside of your friend circle can cause a great deal of stress.

“The process of finding the correct team is often rough and takes time. If there’s anything I have learned in the journey of finding a cohesive team, it’s that teamwork is the bedrock of success in any competition. I have had experiences where the lack of team coordination was the major reason for our underperformance. A team works better when each member takes accountability for the task assigned to them rather than burdening an individual with the entire work. One should remember that the sum is always greater than the parts” – Ananya Pandey, a first-year student

A lot of dirty politics come into play while enrolling in competitions through Unstop. Usually, the first round of elimination is conducted through an online quiz via UnStop. Often, students can be seen enrolling themselves through several fake emails to participate in the quiz and get an understanding of all the questions and answers. Later, they enrol through their official email address and answer all the questions promptly. This gives them an edge in the following rounds, where the participants with the least time are only allowed to proceed. Such malpractices are often hard to detect in an online and unsupervised space. Although some organisers may severely restrict the time limits, such unethical practises are unavoidable in the race for the first position.

Nowadays, just securing a prize has become the bare minimum. A certain hierarchy exists along with the nature of competition. Case study competitions are usually considered the most prestigious competitions to secure a prize in, specifically those surrounding the topics of entrepreneurship and finance. The obsession with securing a prize in such competitions is hugely fueled due to the immense benefits they add during the recruitment process for internships and companies. Although the amount of effort required for the preparation of case studies is immensely more demanding than other competitions, it often creates a demoralising spirit among participants who are not inclined towards such interests. An additional layer is added when the prestigious factor of colleges is added. Students specifically choose to compete in the so-called Tier-1 colleges across the University due to the spark it adds to their CVs.

So is it worth it?

In some sense, you can’t escape the demands that accompany the very being of a college student. Competition is a fundamental requisite of the environment you are exposed to. It can be very discouraging, but at the same time, when you succeed, it provides you with a boost of confidence. The solution always comes down to your priorities and passions. You cannot compete with everyone for everything, so choose the battles that will genuinely challenge you.

Read also: Toxic Culture of DU Societies: Seniors with Junior Mindsets

Featured Image Credits: BM Law College

Sri Sidhvi Dindi
[email protected] 

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.

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