If you are reading this in a North Campus college’s canteen, you have your fortunes to thank for. You have made it to The Inaccessible.
The paid admission applications stood at 2,58,388 after the last date of registration at the undergraduate portal this year. The University of Delhi (DU), one of the most coveted education-hub of the country has provision of seats for less than a quarter of these applicants. To make up for this “exclusivity”, the University has a presumably foolproof hack: astounding cut-offs. With every year, the poor standard of education is validated by the rich number-game of cut-offs. National headlines in dailies are blaring announcements of which college set the highest cut-off percentage this year.
This practice necessitates the question of alarming ambitions that we are handing out to young high-school students, and for the sake of what? The University is a lot of things, but not the best academic space. How important is it, then, getting a whopping 99% if you wish to pursue B.A. (Honours) Political Science from Hindu College?
Our school system has been reduced to unhealthy academic pressures, topped with the co-curricular necessity to be an “all-rounder”. School teachers are critical when a student underperforms. The acknowledgement of good work is brushed aside with “you have to do even better in the Board exams”.
The severe and mortal fear of Board exams, as you will relate with, dear fresher, presents the most harrowing March ever. The DU cut-offs soaring through the roof have sustained the brand-value of colleges like Shri Ram College of Commerce, but their effect on the lives of high-school students have been largely treated as ambitions. “I remember my Business Studies teacher chiding me in front of a class of fifty-odd students, ‘If you plan on getting a 90 in your Board exam, better do not consider appearing for it in the first place.’ This was 15 days before the Board exams started, and till date, I am not over this statement, despite getting a good score. I remember it flashing in my mind every second during my Board exam.”
Truly, getting 95% today is disturbing. If you wish to pursue Economics Honours from Lady Shri Ram College, you need at least 97% or above, which is more or less saying that you must not lose more than 2.5 marks in each of your Best of Four Subjects. The Central Board of Secondary Education and other boards have also adjusted to the demand. 100s are tirelessly awarded to students in language papers. Such distribution puts to question the idea of 100s. But then, as long as you are getting a seat for English Honours at St. Stephen’s, how does your English proficiency matter? College comes with its opportunities, and hiding behind these opportunities are insecurities and vulnerabilities. The definition of a good college is earmarked in its history and brand-value. Most school students are blasted with the academic pressure by their parents and teachers, all to enable them to make it to their dream college. The inconsistent debate of the quality of our education system, along with the question of the inconsequential social exposure that we allow to our students pointedly screams at the alarming ambitions that we have enforced on the youth.
India is one of the leading countries in terms of its rich human-resources under the age of 35, but how effectively can we translate this resource into its most conducive form? Surely, not by falsely feeding the inadequate need for validation of the “top colleges of DU”.
Feature Image Credits: Manjit Thapp via Instagram