Many students have seen their peers or themselves face parental pressure about studying Science, we look at why the older generation has a bias for the Sciences and whether it is valid.

Many of us have come across phrases such as “Acche marks aaye 10th mai, Science lelo” (you got good marks in 10th, take Science), “Humanities wala hai, pakka padhayi nahi karta hoga” (they are from Humanities, they must not study), and so on. In Indian middle-class society, the classification of those who pursue humanities as intellectually inferior to those who are in Science is constant.

While Science is an essential part of human life, there are many fallacies one can point out in the Indian education system even in the Science stream, the hyper-competitive nature of it being the very obvious call out, with children being enrolled in coaching and preparing for entrance exams from a very early age. The other being how the learning administered in many colleges does not make graduates employable. A report by India Today in 2019 stated that out of 1.5 million engineering graduates every year, around 80% of them are unemployable. The basic reasoning which one can gather behind this preference for sciences is that people look at it as the safe option, one through which they can find a steady career and future. We have heard older generations say, “Hamare time pe options siraf doctor, engineer, aur lawyer thhey” (the only options we had were doctors, engineers, and lawyers). This mindset still plays a vital role when parents and their children decide which stream to pursue, with many parents still asking and/or forcing their children to take science.

Miley, a second-year student from Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), whose parents told her to take science said, “My parents felt the only reason to not take Science as if you were not smart enough and it’s supposed to be a trophy for them. They cared little if I pursued a career in Science, I just wanted everyone to know that I was “smart enough” if I wanted to. I ended up doing Honors in English from one of the best colleges and yet all they think I do is a B.A.” Shivam, a student preparing for his JEE Mains said, “My parents always wanted me to take Science, and it’s something which I have always wanted too, so I would not say it was forced. Yes, preparing for competitive exams takes a lot of time and dedication but it’s time I am willing to put in to secure my future.” Now while Shivam and many like him strive to break into the topmost colleges in their streams, the stereotype of humanities kids being their opposites falls flat. To get into Delhi University (DU) and many other universities, students have to compete against extremely high cut-offs and unpredictable board examinations. The This obsession of Indians with science leaves one with the following conclusion, just because something is followed by the majority, does not mean it’s in everyone’s best interest. There’s no Mantra that can guarantee you success, but doing something out of pressure for the sake of approval definitely won’t help. And this kind of obsession is certainly unhealthy and will become problematic in the long run, given the current economic conditions of our country. It’s high time that we introspect our basis of decision-making, because even if this obsession with science helps someone achieve success, it doesn’t guarantee happiness that was lost along the way. idea of Humanities being for those who slack off or are not willing to work as much as other streams immediately takes a hit. In the end, one can see that the stream does not decide a person’s employability or worth, and the larger problem itself lies with the education system in India. A system which places rote learning and education without questioning as its foremost agenda, a system in which arguably the very idea of knowledge is lost in the quest to gain that extra percentage points or a higher rank than others, a system which prefers pitting students against each other and propagating ideas of intellectual superiority on the basis of streams rather than allowing students to learn from each other.

Feature Image Credits : Arre

Prabhanu Kumar Das

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For a final semester student in DU, the idea of something known as the ‘gap year’ tends to induce feelings of uncertainty and disenchantment, with negative inertia attached to it. To-be graduates are ready to join career fields they are disinterested in, or are willing to settle for something less rewarding, just to ensure that they do not
end up like xyz senior who took a year off after college.

Right before writing this editorial, it took a long time for me to even accept this as a meandering, last-resort option.
A lot of people like me, who are just beginning to realise the bitter truths that come with the final year of college, are
accepting the possibility of taking gap years too. For most students in India, it becomes an unwelcome eventuality, but unlike what we observe here, there are individuals who deliberately take a year off after completing their undergraduate degree.
The reasons have been various, from giving another shot to entrance exams to exploring one’s hobbies and interests and aligning them with their preferred career path. Contrary to the popular perception here, gap years or gap semesters are actual programmes offered by universities abroad, which students are often encouraged to pursue.
Their sabbatical is usually after the secondary school or undergraduate level, and tends to be for seven to eight months.
Year or semester-long sabbaticals aren’t as prevalent in India, and the reason behind this doesn’t require an explanation. India’s conservatism and the inflexibility of the course curriculum in Indian colleges, where something as dynamic as this can help students regain their composure, could never take flight. Colleges in the U.S and U.K offer numerous opportunities for students to intern, travel, and sign up for freelance work, owing to the program’s ability to be extended up to four years. Not only does this sojourn rejuvenate and offer new perspectives to preconceived notions, but it also presents plenty of time for a student to join part-time or additional courses, (offline or online) to gain value addition and branch out into a specific career of their choice.
Despite having umpteen pros, the elephant in the room needs to be addressed. While most post-graduate schools in India do not directly discriminate between regular freshers and the students who take gap years, people believe that their gap year somehow creeps up into personal interview rounds. In response to this concern, it is certainly problematic if a fresher takes a gap year for frivolous reasons. However, if you are able to substantiate and explain to the interviewers about your decision with proper logic and count down the knowledge addition through
add-on courses or internships at a startup or an NGO that you did, it can probably even place you far ahead of other candidates. These students are not as heavily penalised as before, and it’s becoming increasingly common because of the fewer jobs being generated in the economy. If your CV is impressive, your personality is convincing, and your skills match with the job/programme requirements, there’s little to stop you from grabbing that job/getting into that university. Berating yourself because of what comment that far-off relative made with regards to your decision would never help; we’re all headed in different directions at the end of the day.

Vijeata Balani
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Dear fellow final year student,

What are you feeling right now? What thoughts cloud the otherwise agile mind of yours?
Let me guess. You’re either waiting for the results of an entrance test you took last month or are preparing for one that’s scheduled later next month.
Some have bagged a placement already and some are contemplating a change in stream. Commerce students might be deciding to take up a career in painting. Literature students might be preparing for a job in marketing. Entrepreneurial ventures await yet others. Some are going through the laborious process of applying abroad for further studies. (My heartiest wishes to you, the entire process leaves you weary)

Irrespective of where we are headed, one fact binds us all: we are just trying to gather enough courage to get through these trying times, strewn with choices and decisions and their repercussions. Overthinking has become the order of the day, and there is no respite from the incessant nagging doubts about the future. Where would we be 6 months from now. Would we be just as confused a year down the line? We don’t want to hear a yes to that because well, we would not want to live through it again. But let’s not let the thought of having to live through it again prevent us from living through it the first time.

We are doing everything we can to land up in a good place- whether it is an institute of higher education, workplace or professional studies.

But let us not forget- this also marks the beginning of the last semester of undergrad college. Let us promise ourselves to make every moment count. Let us make a bucket list. Explore the city, go on an outstation trip. But most of all, let’s be spontaneous. Let us not be intimidated by the possibilities and uncertainties.

We all realise by now that we have made some great friends, and after 6 months, no one knows where we’ll end up, whether or not we’d meet again, so cherish this, for this is the time of our lives.

Lets make the most of the last days of undergrad studies?

Wishing the best for all of us,

Your batch-mate.

Featured Image credits: geeksoy.com

Kritika Narula

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