Friday, March 9, 2012

Did I really waste a seat of IIT?

Having graduated out of IIT Delhi, I chose to be a writer. Like most of the IITians, by the time I finished my degree, I realized that I was not interested in engineering. I didn't want to push myself into the assembly line and take up a high paying job, serving someone else for any other sector like finance or consulting and I chose to go full time with my writing. I chose to do that I was interested in.

Once my struggle period got over, I encountered a weird kind of hostility amongst some people for me. I always find people who complain to me that I wasted a seat of my college. If I didn't want to become an engineer, why did I give JEE? Why did I waste government's lacs of money spent on me?

Generally, I do not reply to such an allegation, since people don't realize that a 17 year old guy, who hadn't yet seen the world, who hadn't done anything else other than dating his books for most of his high school, can't decide what does he want to do in life? It's only after he sees the world, gets exposed to different professions, art and cultures, that he could realize what is his real calling. And that's not all, sometimes, even after our college lives, we are yet to find our calling. For some, who know their calling, lack of family support or lack of will becomes the major hindrance.

Having chosen to pursue my inner calling, I would like to enable this feeling of satisfaction of discovering and pursuing what one really likes doing in every student. To accomplish this mighty task, I realize that we need a drastic change in one of the key issues of the youth. Schooling. Not only the primary, secondary and high school level, but also at the college level. The current system of schooling follows promote-the-best-forward ideology, which could be clearly elucidated by the fact considering any competition in which the school has to represent its student, teachers no doubt choose the best suited student for that competition. What about others, who might be equally or more interested in participating in that competition? Just because they could not discover whether they have the potential to excel in the other field, they get sidelined. What this results in is a narrowed development of an otherwise talented student, who gets involved in a particular activity and just because she's good in that, she is cut off from all the other interesting activities which could have otherwise opened her mind and made her personality all-rounded.

To explain with my own personal example, I had never written anything other than my answer papers in my school days. I came to IIT, started writing and realized that I was good at it and loved it. I pursued it, got better and much more interested. The reason I never wrote in school was because nobody motivated me to write in school. There were few students, who were good in English and they dominated the school editorial scene. Now surprisingly, none of those students are into writing. Tell me, had I been in the same environment  all the while, would I ever have been able to discover the fact that I'd a flair in writing? No, never.

From where I stand, I can see two ways to move forward in this regard. One privately, by starting a company which trains teachers in holistic teaching and conducts seminars in schools and colleges to enable students discover their hidden talents, by exposing them to different fields. The other is by promoting a club like environment in schools, which thankfully exists in a lot of schools, where people get to participate in group activities in different domains and take them on tours to witness what professional life actually is and when they say they want to become a doctor, they should understand by experience that it's not just about medicines, but also about carefully handling several lives, being hygienic, and on one's toes all the time.

I think that the current schooling system needs restructuring to impart more holistic education along with more exposure to different professional scenarios, so that people choose what they would really love to do and such digression, like me, from one's primary career line doesn't take place so often, leading to a situation where when a student decides to take up engineering, he actually wants to become an engineer.

Written for Stayfree Time for Change contest for indiblogger.

12 comments:

suhani varshney said...

could not agree any more...found a lot of coincidences too...:)
I totally agree that present schooling system do not promote all the professions equally, and creative fields like writing are believed to be doomed, the reason being the job security thing, its still hard for people to believe that these fields can pay as much as other professional ones like engg and medicine can pay, coz most of the ppl still measure success through money but the first and fore most thing that defines success is "satisfaction" all we need is a little change in perspective

Buzz said...

Well said Suhani. :)

Soumya Mukherjee said...

Inspirational...coming at a time when my final year , a year when we roam in campus in 'traditional' black n white attires, for Giants to take us in-is only a few months away!
Honest opinion, thumbs up to the optimism. Cheers! :)

Afshan said...

Loved this write up ! and congrats on alrdy finishing two books :)
Thats jst woww!
I must say am sailing in the same boat .. You shifted gears bt am still an engineer-- Well I DNT MIND IT :) but to pursue writing as a full time career any tips?
If u can pass on I would be glad

Anonymous said...

well dat one was azmng..
sumthng i could really cnnct to...
why dont u get it published in some paper like TTIS or smthng alike...
where teachers nd students would probably read it nd do sumthng bout it....well i agree wid wateva u said i jus hope dat u r heard!!...:)

The Solitary Writer said...

Loved it..its neat .. and it reminds me of some famous Indian Author

Shikha said...

Being a student of engineering, I totally agree to all the things stated by you :) But what I really feel is that, these four years are the ones in which a person realizes his worth, interests and capabilities. Giving JEE, being selected to study in country's best institute are mere obligations. At the age of 17 or 18, no one is so much mature as to decide what he/she wants in life. Its just peer pressure and competition which leads one's path at that age. These four years make u grow, learn and realize ! :) That's it! You write too good. I always wait to hear more from u. :)
Regards,
Shikha

Rohit said...

People / Parents should also understand that its not that one profession is better than another with respect to monetary benefit, but money is the by product of passionate work.

So if you are following your passion , satisfaction is guaranteed but money also follows because of the fact that your work is 'quality' work and its providing some 'value' to one facet of the society, be it in the field of art, literature, science or philosophy.

Rohan Shankar said...

Lots of IITians become MBAs and that question is not asked. Lots of people from BITS(my clg) who come here for Dual Engg + Sci, discover their interest in science, and drop the engineering part. They get similar trtmt. its all upto you. You didnt waste a seat, they wasted the opportunity they got of a student. You just filled an additional seat.

Anonymous said...

I have heard about many IITians doing same as you. Why is that :P

Funny Gypsy said...

Thought-provoking! :) I completely agree with getting into the wrong field partly being the fault of our rigid education system...but on the other hand, I also think you're placing too much blame on the education system. I came from a school which gave me excellent exposure to writing and theatre, and my (accomplished) English and Drama teachers also recommended my joining a creative field, but I refused as I was good in science and I wanted to do something more 'substantial'. What I discovered instead was that engineering is not my cup of tea after all and now I'm back to wondering why I collected those degrees. In this case, it is not my education's fault, it is my own decision that was wrong. And I think this is part of life for many people - not just in India but abroad too. It's just that in India you feel more guilty about it as good-quality higher education is a luxury. (Though what we call "good-quality" is only good in the relative sense!)

KayEm said...

Youth, peer pressure, pere pressure, the system – everything compounds one’s decision. In the end, it has to be what you love and it takes a few stabs in different directions. Congrats on your chosen path. Re our schooling system, I agree we urgently need to rethink what it offers our kids.