A junior of mine asked me the other day, “What would take away from your stay in this college?”
That set me thinking. It took me back to the nervous days of 1st year. We were stepping into an institution which had just been deemed Autonomous under VTU. There were new rules and a new structure of grading in place. Out went the advice of my brother, who had ordered me never to maintain an average below FCD, the concept of which held no relevance now. But then the situation did not turn out to be that bad. The subjects were an extension of 2nd PU, with a few additional concepts, nothing that one couldn’t master given some time. This comfort lasted until the actual meaning of Relative grading sunk in. Oh how silly that made us, measuring the performances of others and requesting teachers to set tough papers, so that everyone could equally suffer. Although FPS was the in thing in 2007, we were not ready to C2D.
Apart from academics, there were the fanciful clubs which we were coaxed to register for at the canteen and we did, fearing a friendly introduction session with the seniors if we didn’t. How naïve and innocent we were…
Second year was welcomed with a measured reaction. The joy of absolute grading on one side and the daunting task of facing the real subjects of your core engineering at the other. We understood the system, we played by the rules and we stood at canteens coaxing our juniors to join the clubs. We matured ever so slightly through the PDP courses and we learnt fanciful words in our subjects to impress others.
Third year brought with it the anxiety of planning for the future and the severity of the core subjects. Words from senior gave us no hope. “This year is the toughest” they said, “Expect no mercy from God or your evaluators”, they added. With much fear and sleepless nights, we sailed through, if not in flying colors, then in cantering grayscale. But did it end there?
The holidays following it were not holidays at all, for the preparation had to begin. To face the biggest challenge for which we had all chosen this college. For your parents to hold their heads high, while brimming with self esteem, you had to land in a good company. This would not only ensure owners’ pride but also neighbors envy. So out came the RS Agarwals and the QA books, with furious practice sessions and discussion of puzzles with different problem approaches. The pursuers of a Masters degree had a different set of challenges to overcome. For they had to learn to refer to dictionaries to know word meanings, a practice long forgotten after school. That they took to mugging the ready-to-mug-word-lists was a different issue.
The final year brought with it lessons of grooming and etiquette. How not to forget to knock the door while entering and to remember to say the right greeting at the right time. Ties were exchanged and so were the questions asked. Sheer disbelief from those who made it to some companies and from those who didn’t. Tears were shed; lessons were learnt, but our college being what it is ensured that nobody was left behind. And were the pursuers of MS far behind in the placement drama? Absolutely not and when asked why, some were brutally frank saying that needed a backup, while others threw the remark, “We want to prove it to ourselves that we are worth it”.
In the midst of this frenzy, we made sure we had fun and how. We attended fests in the city and outside the city, we volunteered for activities, we organized events, we shared experiences, we made new friends, we fooled others and were made fools of, we loved, we lost and yet strangely we won. For subconsciously, these new activities had changed us, they had made us look at ourselves and others in a different light. It made us to learn how to accept others for who they are and enjoy each other’s differences. We forged bonds which are unlikely to be broken by time and distance. And we created Facebook albums as a digital reminder of the good times and more often than not the crazy times.
My FCD Brother said that friends and connections made in college can never be replicated anywhere and that I shouldn’t expect it in the corporate environment. So true isn’t it? From here on we are stepping out of our comfort zone which we created in college. It was a world within the real one, a familiar environment where we set the rules and we called the shots. Try that in the corporate world and before you do you have been warned.
So today in our dazzling suits and sparkling sarees we do realize that we come a long way from where we started. And as an answer to that impatient junior I said, “The College has given me lots of memories and experiences to recollect for a lifetime” She wasn’t impressed for she expected something along the lines of the placement offer that I had landed. But I guess she will agree with me when she is about to leave college.