This year, when my niece was crying because she got 93 per cent and not 99 percent, I tried to console her by telling that there were other colleges, with only 90 per cent as the cut-off, where she could apply. However, in my mind I was thanking the stars that I was not born into this era, where colleges expect a student to score nothing less than 99 per cent to get into their prestigious institute.
I would have surely not got into the college of my dreams! In our days, it was a big deal to score a 70 per cent. Only those bookish nerds who usually ate their lunch alone with book as their companion, scored anything in the 90s. I was a basketball champ, so never was the bookish type.
In today’s day and age, my heart goes out to all those students who try to get into university. According to me, these cut-off percentages are just unreal. This is so, especially in Delhi University (DU)-affiliated colleges. Reports have it that the cut-off percentage has only been steadily rising.
Two years ago, in 2015, over two colleges required a candidate to score a minimum of 100 per cent marks to secure admission to the BSc (Hons) Computer Science programmes in the first cut-off. SGTB Khalsa set the first cut-off for BSc (Hons) Electronics at 99 per cent, and Ramjas College set their first cut-off at 99 per cent for BSc in Mathematical Science. These minimum percentage requirements did go down for both the general and the reserved categories by the time the eighth cut-off list was released.
DU has even gone to the extreme of suggesting a cut of 10 marks from science students who have a 60-40 ratio for theory and practical. Added to the high cut-off percentage, this is tantamount to punishment to those who want to follow the sciences. There is talk of scrapping this unfair deduction policy, but for many students the damage is already done.
It can be very demoralising, especially for those who miss the cut-off by a hair’s breadth. While some students are happy to move on and look for admission in other colleges, there are others who are particular about the college they get into as it becomes a matter of family prestige given many of his/her family member had studied from that college. There have been cases where this has led to severe depression and even suicide. The best example is of the recent suicide committed by a girl from Bengaluru, despite scoring 85 per cent. A leading daily estimates that every hour a student commits suicide. In fact, India has one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youths aged 15 to 29, according to a 2012 Lancet report.
Some may argue that slackening the pressure on students leads to a culture of mediocrity. This is a fallacy because students tend to perform better when they are not worried about meeting a certain cut-off. Students who get in, but are constantly pressured by family to outshine others, often turn depressive. Take the case of Arjun Bharadwaj who committed suicide by jumping off the 19th floor of a hotel room in Mumbai. The 24-year-old was depressed and probably had a drug addiction. But he had no one to turn to, given that he was under immense pressure to perform.
Getting an education at a good university is only the first step towards being successful in life. Many average students have gone on to make exceptional strides in their career. Let’s give our students more hope rather than cutting them down with these unreasonable expectations.
Archana Dalmia, Chairperson of Grievance Cell, All India Congress Committee