Before you all question where is this Savitribai University, read about Pune University Renamed to Savitribai Phule Pune University. And then you can continue reading this article. So here it goes…
All engineering students have been there. Theory exams just got over, and the next semester is scheduled to start three weeks away. Only now can you begin thinking or planning of how to spend your time during break, once it’s affirmed that you’ve appeared for all required subject papers, and the forever dangling blade of last-minute postponement won’t slice through your already meager share of vacation.
Of course, it gets worse if you have flunked a subject or two during the previous semester, which means you’ll have to juggle long-forgotten course topics in the midst of writing exams for the current semester (especially nightmarish for first/second year backlog students, whose online exams are destined to take place about fifteen days after the last semester exam, thus extending exam period).
Why is it that such a historically revered university has become so inept in its approach to providing a holistic education to engineering students? The seemingly eternal nature of examinations is something students of Pune University learn to take well within their stride, quite early into the process of becoming an engineer.
Yet, here are a few reasons why we need a longer between-semester break:
Quite obviously the foremost reason cited by many students, vacations would be a chance for young students to gain hands-on experience of the real world, by fully committing to a respectful internship for a period of at least 6-8 weeks, without having to worry about missing out on college work, or more importantly, attendance requirements. No elaboration required on this one.
While this aspect of an esteemed university education is highly disregarded at the undergraduate level in India (except for IITs), motivated students should at least be given the time to explore beyond syllabus prescribed by the university, based on personal initiative. After all the heavy curriculum workload, assignments, submissions, and above all that, attendance compulsions, students are almost daunted to venture out on their own, instead of being encouraged to pick an area of interest to explore, preferably with the help of a professor who has extensive expertise in that subject area.
The predefined practical assignments prescribed in the university syllabus are rigid and can be rote-learnt. There’s very little room for applying creativity, and there’s-no-box thinking, to gain a truly practical understanding of the topics covered.
Probably the most crucial aspect of practicals is the escalating amount of paperwork to be submitted at the end of semester, that accounts for the Term Work, which is, supposedly, a hell lot of marks.
After all is said and done, where’s the scope for us to actually learn the concept in-depth or build something that’s innovative and fascinating? Say I want to join a 7-week computer animation class to master the kinks of how it all works, but where’s the time?
That’s right, the after-semester vacations. Who knows? We might find another Sundar Pichai round the corner, just waiting to be discovered.
While this option may not be in direct relevance to academics, volunteering at a non-profit organisation offers a two-fold benefit:
- The experience is necessary to attain a social consciousness of the world around you, and what you can do to contribute/give back to society
- It presents an interesting and desirable persona of you to future employers
And yes, the best time to play a part in community development can only be found after you’ve fulfilled all your primary obligations of academics and learning. You know where I’m going 🙂
Whether its for research, an internship, or a research internship opening, find a way to spend a few weeks abroad – those days can literally change your life! Its a transformative experience, not to mention the vivid cultural exposure, and all the new friends you’ll make (yeah, there’ll be some good-looking ones too 😀 ). Even if it’s a volunteering or teaching opportunity, don’t toss it aside as irrelevant to your goals or unimpressive to employers. Global acquaintances and cultural awareness are a key factor of one’s personality, and should be nurtured to keep up with the world.
Guess when you’ll find time to go about developing yourself culturally?
This is what it all boils down to – how you can make a difference in the world. If the existing system allowed us to explore even a few of the above opportunities, without bogging us down in the unpleasant sanctuary of academics and examinations all the time, these young adults will ultimately learn to develop and adapt to the fast-emerging world around them, and create a legacy, both for themselves and as part of the historic Pune University alumni. If only we could find time for all that.
Having discussed the problem at length, and some surprising effects of its remedy, let’s try to come up with a possible response. One straightforward solution would be the reduction of prep leave. Which self-respecting college student spends an entire month diligently studying for their semester exams anyway? Its an utter waste of time and can be lessened to a maximum of 10 days. Conduction of semester end exams earlier leaves a greater time span for tension-free holidays and students can feel free to choose whether they wish to make or break their lives.
Another probable response could be downsizing the gap between exams. While this may not be entirely feasible for a university with hundreds of affiliated colleges, an attempt can certainly be made to implement it as far as possible, if only to increase efficiency of the system (yes, I’ve been an idealist since forever)
On the other hand…
Oh well. I tried.