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Updated: October 31, 2012 09:11 IST

That sense of liberation

Sumathi Sudhakar
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Success and a sense of fulfilment at college is all about being aware of what it entails and taking conscious decisions from day one.
The Hindu
Success and a sense of fulfilment at college is all about being aware of what it entails and taking conscious decisions from day one.

You feel emboldened to experiment in college. Make sure you plan and take ownership of your actions.

Arvind had decided that he would leave a mark in college. People would speak of him long after he left college. So he plunged into everything he had dreamt of doing — he streaked his hair blue and styled it to look wild, grew a new kind of beard every week, experimented with cigarettes and alcohol. Till he was found at a rave party by raiding police one night.... now people are talking about him in ways he never wanted them to...

Arvind’s is an extreme case. Many others get mildly wild at college. Saranga tried a nearby pub with his friends while his parents thought he was attending lectures. Amrita, Deepa and many others spent evenings at discos and bars.

Even the meekest young people feel emboldened to experiment at college. Even those that don’t go the drink-and-drug way find other ways to assert their independence. Prerana and her friends would bunk classes and party at the canteen or eating holes outside every now and then. ‘Boring’ lecturers and ‘boring’ subjects were not to be suffered. It was the fashion.

The party continues till the semester exams come around. Things suddenly go terribly wrong.

The first semester and indeed the first year is a sobering eye-opener for most students. Many students fail in one or more papers.

For the faculty, results of semester one and semester two are as expected. Some say it is a pattern they have observed over the years. Even students with impressive scores in the Plus Two fail in at least one paper in the first semester.

For the students, however, it is a huge shock, coming as it does after success in the Board exams. They land back on earth with a painful thud.

“So are we supposed to attend all classes and study, and study and study?” asked Navya, who had notched up one arrears paper by the end of year one. “Then what is the difference between school and college?” “I thought we could make choices at college,” said Prathima.

“College isn’t much different from school,” commented Aziz. “Here, too, we need 80 per cent compulsory attendance. Here too we have exams and tests throughout the semester. And we thought college would be fun and relaxed. We thought we were at liberty to attend or bunk classes...none of it is true.”

That’s both true and not true. Look at it this way. In school, bunking was never an option, was it? Taking leave of absence was such a painful process: remember the leave letters and medical certificates and parents being summoned to the office room? You have left all that behind. The college that asks for 80 per cent attendance is actually giving you a leeway of 20 per cent working days. It is up to you how you use it.


The two issues here are: the liberty to bunk or attend classes and what to do with free time.

The liberty to decide and the choices to select from may seem exhilarating at first. But they place the responsibility of making the right choices squarely on your shoulders. You can decide how many and which classes you will attend, but you must make your calculations carefully.

You can also choose how you will spend the rest of your time. If your choices are reasonable and your experiments with liberty judicious, you will enjoy college without losing sight of your academic goals.

Colleges afford many opportunities for showcasing and developing talent and personality. Cultural events, contests, intra-college clubs, seminars, magazines, online and real time activities provide healthy opportunities for fun, peer interaction and self-growth. Watch out for these and don’t fight shy of participating. These are sensible alternatives to the risks involved in experimenting with drugs, alcohol and smoking.

If you can keep count of your attendance and your lecture hours, manage time and your academic schedule, there’s no reason why you cannot have your cake and eat it too! Success and a sense of fulfilment at college is all about being aware of what it entails and taking conscious decisions from day one. You can bunk and have fun and yet have enough attendance and not flunk! It’s all to do with planning, calculation and taking ownership for your actions.

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