Date:26/06/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mag/2011/06/26/stories/2011062650100400.htm
Back Magazine



Irrational and demoralising?

SWATI DAFTUAR
IN DELHI

Increasing the number of quality institutions may be one way out of the current impasse.

PHOTO: R.V. MOORTHY

ANXIOUS: Break or make moments in a student's life.

The Union Human Resource Development Minister, Kapil Sibal, calls the new cut-offs ‘irrational'. At 100 per cent, Sri Ram College of Commerce is literally setting an impossible standard for its applicants, and the other colleges in Delhi University are not far behind. Almost every college in D.U. is playing incredibly hard to get, with cut-offs hiked by anything between eight and 15 per cent. Hindu College has set a near-perfect score as its B.Com. (H) cut-off too, setting it 99 per cent for non-commerce students.

Irrational? Of course. But also upsetting and demoralising.

It wasn't just the Education Ministry that went into a tizzy on Tuesday after SRCC declared a 100 per cent cut-off for non-commerce students. The people hardest hit, quite obviously, were the students themselves. “I'm not even surprised. If it wasn't so scary, it'd be amusing. They want us to get a perfect score or we don't get into colleges? This is ridiculous!” says S. Radhika, a science student with a best of four aggregate of 96 per cent. The SRCC Principal, P.C. Jain, feels differently though. He defended the college's decision of setting the abnormally high benchmark, claiming that the criteria had been developed to ensure that the college got students who could give it the best input. “It's a screening process,” he said.

Too cautious?

At a press conference, Sibal assured students and parents that the situation would be taken care of. The cut-off all but ensures that it becomes impossible for students from a science or humanities background to even apply to SRCC, at least in the first list. The D.U. Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh promised the students that the four more cut-off lists yet to come would bring down the percentage significantly. He further explained that the high cut-offs were only due to the high scores achieved by students in the board exams. “Colleges are being cautious in the first cut-off,” he said.

“This kind of unrealistic benchmark only forces the students to set unrealistic goals for themselves. Then, when they do not achieve perfect results, it leads to frustration, disappointment and disillusionment. The results they do achieve give no satisfaction. The process is extremely stressful and can lead to many emotional, mental and physical problems.” says Dr. Ripan Sippy, clinical psychologist and special educator.

On the other hand, Chhavi Sodhi, a commerce stream student who has made it into SRCC in the first list, explains why she feels the high cut-off for non-commerce students isn't a ‘big deal'. “We commerce students work extremely hard and manage scores that will get us into the best colleges. Why shouldn't it be tougher for students from a different stream to compete with us? They are changing streams. Either way, it won't make a difference to a really high scoring science student, because if he or she is getting such high marks, they'll obviously choose to go to the best colleges from their field. I also think SRCC is getting so much media attention because it's the most renowned college for B.Com. (H) in the university. ‘Venky' and Kirorimal have set their cut-offs for commerce students way higher than SRCC has”.

“I wouldn't completely blame the system, though. The number of students with a score of 95 per cent or higher has more than doubled. So the cut-offs were bound to go up,” says Aditya Varma, a Class XII commerce student from Don Bosco School. “I don't think the next step is to bring the cut-offs down; it's to open more quality institutions like SRCC so that the skewed ratio between good colleges and good students is fixed. The cut-offs will automatically drop.” In the same breath, Aditya adds that, despite everything, the prospect of facing so many closed doors is very demotivating. The issue of more quality institutions is certainly an important one and, surprisingly, while D.U. is progressively making it harder for students to apply, getting into engineering colleges has become easier, with 15 IITs and WBJEE declaring ranks almost equal to the number of examinees.

As the pressure mounts on students, their parents are feeling the impact of the situation too. “We're demanding too much already with near-perfect scores. There is bound to be reaction and upsets. It's not fair on anyone,” says Mrs. Kriplani, the mother of a Class XII humanities student. “Of course, parents are bound to feel helpless, because they know that there is only so much they can do to help and, despite their best efforts, it might not be possible to get their child into a good college. This kind of helplessness can translate to depression and other problems in not only the child but the parent too,” explains Dr. Sippy.

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu