This article was submitted to us by Sriya Sridhar, a second-year at the Jindal Global Law School, whose love for traveling and music is exceeded only by her love for Tea.
I came back to college early this semester, to be a part of The Buddy Project, which is an orientation program of sorts for the incoming batch. And there were a lot of questions from the freshers- about college life, academics and what to do about lizards in the room. My advice? Befriend the lizard, they are non-judgmental and get rid of mosquitoes for you.
But one particular type of question stayed with me, and these are the questions about placements. I got a surprising amount of queries about how many people usually get placed, what the pay packet is and most frequently: Other than mooting, what can I do here that looks good on a CV?
And while this demonstrates zeal and a certain level of motivation which is great to see, it worries me.
Our CVs lie in a corner of our computers, a constant reminder of the fact that we need to do more things, so as to condense it into a comprehensive list of all our achievements and ultimately present it to the people in suits who will hopefully pay us after scrutinizing this Word document. Fair enough. The intent of this piece isn’t to undermine the existing system, because there is a certain way that things work. I also have an immense amount of respect for all the people I see who work so hard and achieve the things they put their mind to. They inspire. And by all means, they deserve all the benefits of their hard work, reflected on their CVs.
What worries me is the sheer pervasiveness of the influence this one document seems to have, which drives kids to ask questions about it 48 hours into college. I can’t help but wonder what this tells us about higher education in general- is the entire experience reduced to what looks good on paper? It shouldn’t be.
Higher education needs to be seen as a process of continued learning- combining facts with context, and access with understanding. Where one can find meaning in the work they do despite the sea of information that we have access to. A healthy dose of competition never hurt anyone, but the pressure of showing that we are a cut above the rest cannot come at the cost of recognizing that collaboration and compassion go a much longer way in tackling the issues that face us. Call me idealistic, but I do not believe that we as the current generation of students are not capable of understanding this.
In a country that uses its youth as a major selling point, we cannot forget the fact that a student is not a statistic. A CGPA is not a personality trait. Being the best speaker is not directly proportional to having the best ideas. Decibel levels are not equal to effectiveness. A CV is not the be all and end all of self -worth.
The insight gained from either success or failure cannot be put on a CV. You can’t condense or quantify things like making mistakes, introspective conversations with friends, laughing with your roommates, day dreaming, or doing things you never thought you could. Yet, importance seems to be attached only to the quantifiable- that’s why there are towns like Kota dedicated to getting kids into IIT. That’s why development indicators and Knowledge Commission reports are cited to show the tremendous growth in higher education.
But at what cost? Consumerism and comparative advantage over imagination? Blind career paths over priceless experiences?
No doubt, a resume is important. But there are other things that count. Forgetting this has wide ranging repercussions on how students are taught and how they see themselves. There is no end to comparison, just as there is no end to the lessons that can be learned by realizing this.
By all means, make the list. We all do. Make the list, but dream beyond it.
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