A Step Closer to the Real World, But at What Cost?

It has started.

It’s that time of the year when all that mad frenzy begins. Competition, ruthlessness, selfishness, desperation (you name it!), is in the air. It’s time for the baggy jeans, the cool t-shirts with weird and funny statements written all over them, and the whacky sneakers to disappear and for suits, coats and formals, with ties and sparkling shoes, to come out of the closet.

It’s time for the long tresses, usually all wild and down to be neatly pinned up, and the piercings (in various unusual body parts) to go well into hiding for a few weeks! It’s the time of the year that’s going to decide a student’s future and shape him into the person that he’s going to be for almost all his adult life.

It’s a time when he takes a step into the real world.

Campus recruitment drives have officially begun!

Campus Placements

You know, I thought I wasn’t going to be so much worried, least of all, harried and dead tired when fall would arrive bringing with it the possibility of a promising career for many, but all I can see myself (and about a thousand others around me) do is run around like a mad person all day attending a workshop here, then attending a meeting there, registering for a test here then going back again and taking part in a seminar, held specially for us because we so badly need it, and again coming back to practicing test sheets, trying to spruce up a resume as skillfully as possible, brushing up on language and communication skills, and finding the time to do a little cramming up for the next day (oops! Totally forgot to squeeze in a little time for eating and sleeping!).

All around us, we’ve got professors and lecturers telling us to be selfish. I can hear them say, “Friends are fine, we understand but this is something where you have to put yourself first! If you see your friend getting the job and you you end up unemployed, it’ll be a new low in your life, so be mean if you have to!”, “Don’t give our practice sheets to students from that other college, you want that job, na?”, “We’re going to polish you up in such a way that no company will ever refuse you a job” and many, many more similar lovely things to us all day long!

I can’t help but think, because of everything going on around me, when did these campus drives for job recruitment, like everything else these days, become a business too? I can understand students being nervous, and even scared and desperate, at the thought of facing executives from big companies, or even the smaller ones, with their entire futures at stake, but colleges, institutes and yes, coaching centers everywhere have begun exploiting this very desperation.

There are a number of coaching institutes which along with providing coaching for exams like GATE, GRE, CAT, etc., have started a new program called CRT (Campus Recruitment Training) program

Just Google it and see the number of results you get!

Colleges intent on making their brochures and pamphlets look really good and inviting for next year’s counseling sessions for new students, hire these so called trained CRT professionals by paying obscene amounts of money, to leave no stone unturned in converting their students into perfect candidates for these companies.

Programmed LearningAlong with grueling training sessions, even the exact replies to the expected questions from an interviewer are taught, and the students are advised not to utter a word more. For aptitude and logical reasoning, little tricks are firmly implanted in their brains leaving the logic and reasoning part to their imagination, if they are left with any!

Colleges see no reason but to wipe out another college’s name, and a student so desperately wanting to stand on his on feet and be part of the real world, if there is such a thing left, gets caught in the mad whirlpool.

So, do all these crazy tactics, these workshops and seminars and tuitions, actually yield good results?

I have to say, sometimes they do but mostly they fail miserably. The times they see success, it’s because the companies, saving a few, that hire these students, are just as pretentious as these institutes, or it maybe because the college just got plain lucky.

But the failure they see, is because the real world is not looking for people who have been trained and polished up just to qualify a test or impress a selection panel by sucking up to them, it’s looking for people who really know what they’re doing, who have the knowledge and potential to take up a task and get it done, who actually like what they do, are passionate about it and want to do it, not so much for the money as for the satisfaction, it is looking for people who are just as real as it.

These colleges and institutes are not to blame fully; half of this blame should be extended to our Government with its really bizarre education system, and rusty old laws and rules.

One example of it being, something I unfortunately experienced recently and happen to really disagree with, something which was started this year in my college by NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Company) – NAC-Tech. In their own words, “NAC-Tech has been conceived as an industry standard assessment and certification program to ensure the transformation of a “trainable” workforce into an “employable” workforce…”, and this assessment of ’employability’ of students will be specifically mandatory and strictly implemented in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, meaning cities they think are not good enough, all the small ones with not enough stuff like metros and huge skyscrapers and IITs, to name a few.

It feels like total discrimination to me. Why are students from small and developing cities just assumed dumb and not good enough? Why does NASSCOM feel that it is students of these cities that need tips and feedback to improve their ’employability’? Last time, I checked, which happened to be just yesterday, it was these small cities that came out to be the big winners in the end.

All NAC-Tech managed to do this year, in my college was to push the professors, students and the coaching centers a little more into insane schedules to pass ’employability’ tests before even beginning the recruitment process.

There’s so much pressure on students, these days, with they’re families’ hopes along with their own, pinned on them. It’s leading to depression, loneliness, insanity, insomnia, social alienation and in the truly worse cases, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicides. True they’re seniors in their colleges, but they’re still kids trying to grow up, with big dreams of making something out of themselves. Instead of trying to convert them into robots, shouldn’t we try to hone each of their talents and brilliance?

Calvin and Hobbs Life

Each one of them is special, each of them has an element that separates him from the other, and makes him extraordinary. They could be such better human beings if we accepted them for who they are instead of trying to twist and turn them to fall in with our plans, and to fit in with our needs. I really hope at least some laws change around here.

Train them, yes, but don’t destroy their identity, don’t destroy their uniqueness. If you do, nothing real will be left in the world they were determined to be a part of. As someone said, “An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.”

We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation-rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writer is a final year engineering student at BIT Durg. 

Image Credits: Conorwithonen, J D Hancock

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  1. says: Chandrika Nipps

    Written with real feeling. I really have to agree on all the points written by you. But will the system change? In our society or for that matter anywhere else, isn’t the sole purpose of education is to get a proper job and earn a living and be independent??. It is not fully wrong. Actually, the society forgets that each one should do what he or she loves to do and enjoys and then be independent as well. Either they get a job what they enjoy or the become independent doing something else and persue their passion and interest. It is a real shame that it is becoming a business to make our young ones employable. All students are employable. The opportunist institutes and training centers are encashing on their vulnerability.

    As usual written very aptly and beautifully. Keep up the good work.

  2. says: Yuvashree

    Many things come up in my mind while reading this. The past week has been hell and i suppose the coming will be “hell”iest. True, the final moment is here (though a very long one), where we prove that the money spent on us ie. 3L or so is not a waste. It’s all about investment and returns and the assessment. They sell and we buy and at what cost? There is training for everything… From getting admission in LKG to .. no words at all. The sky is the limit and god knows when the sky is going to stop.
    Till now from what i have seen or what i have observed is, until and unless we do not desire or strive for it, not even these PD or CRT Training (in our college guys language) will get us through what we are supposed to. As one of the “trainer” said, these trainings are held to fill the pockets, not to fill our folders in our brain.
    Campus recruitment is becoming a social status among grads and post-grads. Reaching at this position, it looks like, if you are not placed, keeping aside all your achievements, people rate you as zero.And as we are supposed to get our parents or the good old “others” pleased, we get into it even our goal is something else.Here comes the pressure and along with it anxiety and the fear. Then the solution seems to be, join these CRTs.
    We all have crossed these great lines..
    “Son, work hard for these 6 months, rest of your life will be good.”
    6 months went off. We reached here, are we happy?
    And now, they say “Son, get yourself a job,only then your purpose of completing a degree is achieved and you will be happy forever”. Really?? At every juncture of our life, we are made to feel that if we cross this present moment, rest all will be fine. We fear the present to get ourselves secured in our future. The future comes tomorrow, and we are again in our present and the present is made to look bad.

    Superbly written. Correct description of our situation. All the best!! 🙂

  3. says: Steve

    A very apt topic dissected skillfully, and the rottenness within exposed with panache. Most youngsters, especially those in higher secondary school and in colleges would feel that you’ve echoed out their thoughts loudly.

    There are several different facets of the disease plaguing the education system in our country.
    First and foremost is that the rules governing education are archaic and the system in itself is like a rickety dilapidated building on the verge of collapse (sadly it has been this way since eons and is yet to collapse!). It seems like the education ministry is not concerned at all, and why should they be?! It means crazy loads of work for them to revamp the existing system to suit the times. Hence, status quo prevails, as is the norm in the bureaucratic framework of our country.

    Secondly, the notion of ending up in the rat race is genetic. From a very young age, children get used to thinking in focused directions about what they want to become when they grow up, and voila! Without their knowing it, they’ve already entered the never ending rat race. What ensues as life progresses is pressure of scoring high grades in school, cracking competitive exams, then pursuing B.Tech./BE or MBBS programs from tops institutes (nothing less!), becoming engineers or doctors, then earning big bucks, and the never ending story continues!
    Though true that things might work out for the best in this setup, but for many kids with other talents (be it sports, music, writing skills, etc), this is a compromise between life and career (though many might not realize it and continue running the perpetual marathon). Elders can’t be blamed or held responsible as they always want the best for their wards and their preconceived notions about what constitutes the best is the result of a tried and tested method.
    Thankfully though kids these days are breaking out of this age-old mold and are deciding their own career paths, shedding inhibitions by being unorthodox, pursuing their dreams and building their own future without being deterred by the hardships and obstacles. Elders too are moving on and have become supportive of their wards’ decisions and provide their full support unless things are too outrageous and seem downright crazy 🙂

    Last but not the least, education has become a money minting business. And I fear that even if the bureaucracy which we blame so often decides to bring about a reform in the education scenario, it will be met with huge resistance. Be it educational institutions or the ancillary units which facilitate these placement-related training sessions that you mentioned, all of them have a lot of stake in the current education system… and if things change, they stand to lose a lot. It would end up being a catch 22 situation in that case, and status quo would prevail yet again.

    I might’ve sounded cynical but can’t help it. From what I’ve seen, our education system and work system are two sets with minimal intersection – people ending up learning on the job most of the times. Save for a few companies, most others select candidates based on IQ, EQ, aptitude, reasoning ability, communication skills, and not solely based on technical skills. So take it from me, a veteran of campus interviews, you can afford to be yourself in an interview as opposed to pretending to be someone you are not! No interviewer would want to hear the same answer from multiple students for a particular question… unless ofcourse they want prae-programmed androids :p

    So much more to say on this, but then I can go on forever.
    Loved the post. Provides lots of food for thought. Keep it up 🙂

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