Students from the rural hinterland joining city colleges go through a difficult transition phase.

Everything was new to Priya (name changed). The influx of heavy accented English, branded outfits, contemporary accessories which her classmates were wearing. She had always looked forward to wearing ‘colour dresses’ to college. How much she had wanted to shed her school uniform? A look around herself made her suddenly realise that her definition of ‘colour dresses’ did not even remotely match that of her friends to-be.

Priya had come to Chennai for college education, leaving behind her home in a village in southern Tamil Nadu. The story of a person coming to the city, acquiring education and making it big is as old as the hills. Priya wanted to be one of them but there were certain things that were disturbing her.

She felt alienated in her own country, in her own State, in her own college, in her own class. Multiple factors cause this ‘depression’ in rural-bred students. Lack of good communication skills, their shyness and their perception that dressing up like a city dude alone will win them respect and recognition are a few.

A chat with the city students reveals that most of them are unmindful of these differences. They are mature enough to understand that a person should be respected for what he/she is. Most of them also claim that they work towards bridging the rural-urban divide.

A silver lining is that many of the rural students gain composure within a span of a year and start socialising with their classmates really well.

The students from the rural parts of Tamil Nadu have a different way of dressing up, a different way of conversing, thanks to their lack of exposure. They maintain a clearly defined distance from their urban counterparts. This seems to be the situation in many colleges. City colleges offer orientation sessions for such students to boost their self-esteem, to help them understand that they are on par with other students. These sessions also help a naive student handle peer pressure.

The transition from school to college is really a difficult phase to all students, more those from the villages. A little thinking, a little soul-searching, a word from the parent, a pat from the teacher can really help such students overcome these teething problems.

“The students coming in from rural areas do take time to settle down in city colleges. A few of them refuse to mingle even after a year. I have always wondered as to what stops them from doing so. Their inability to converse in English fluently, their way of dressing, are certainly factors which pull them away from the crowd,’’ says S Arjun, a third-year engineering student from SRM Easwari Engineering College.

“The students coming from the rural background have better knowledge than city students. The problem is that they are unable to express it in English properly. They are bothered about the way they dress and their accessories. A little guidance from teachers can help them come out of this temporary troubled phase,” says Dr. Veronica Shalini, Associate Professor, Department of Bio Technology, Jeppiaar Engineering College.

“The onus lies on the colleges to conduct life-skill training, and it should be a continuous process. Students on their part should develop self-esteem and start respecting themselves for what they are,’’says Brinda Jayaraman, Director, Anchor Self-Help Access, and family therapist.

Takes time

S. Arjun, III-year engineering student, SRM Easwari Engineering College

The students coming in from rural areas do take time to settle down in city colleges. A few of them refuse to mingle even after a year. Their inability to converse in English fluently, their way of dressing, are certainly factors which pull them away from the crowd.

Teachers 'role

Veronica Shalini, Associate Professor, Department of Bio Technology, Jeppiaar Engineering College.

The students coming from the rural background have better knowledge than city students. The problem is that they are unable to express it in English properly.

Life-skill training

Brinda Jayaraman, Director, Anchor Self-Help Access, and family therapist

The onus lies on the colleges to conduct life-skill training, and it should be a continuous affair. Students on their part should develop selfesteem and start respecting themselves for what they are.