Institute to start ‘Life skills’ course for all first-year students this year which, the faculty hopes, will help new students deal with academic and other pressures

All first-year students at IIT-Madras will have to undergo a special confidence-building course titled ‘Life skills’ from this year onwards, in their first semester.

The course, which will have two credits, will also feature in the students’ transcripts.

“Many first-year students come here after preparing for more than five years to get into an IIT. Here, they find that everyone is a rank-holder, and coping becomes difficult for them. This programme will help them deal with self-esteem issues,” said dean (students), L.S. Ganesh, on Friday.

The 30-hour course will be spread across 14 weeks, he added.

The focus of the course will be on helping students cope with all kinds of stresses. “This involves handling academic pressures, relationship problems, time-management, interdependence and communication skills and dealing with the addictive nature technology among other things,” Prof. Ganesh said.

Sivakumar M. Srinivasan, IIT-M professor and head of Mitr, the institute’s guidance and counselling unit, said the course has been made compulsory to ensure students take it seriously and attend all the classes.

The workshops will be activity-based and will include many stress-busting games and music-related events. Besides, counsellors will be posted at every hostel, he said.

Prof Ganesh said experts, both from IIT and outside, including IIT alumni, will engage with the students on a range of issues. such as failure, social responsibility, interpersonal skills, family pressures and their new-found independence. Faculty and students will also be sensitised towards gender issues during these workshops, Prof. Ganesh said.

“Students who come here have generally not experienced much failure in their lives. One of the components of this course is to prepare them to process failures,” said Prof. Sivakumar. Evaluations will be based on psychometric tests and activities.

While the institute already has a guidance and counselling unit, this is the first time such a course is being introduced as part of the curriculum. Nearly 900 students are expected to join IIT-Madras on July 23 to pursue B. Tech courses.

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