Dear DU pass outs,
Hola! In the madness and mayhem that this admission season is, I thought of writing you a letter and enquiring about your well being and whereabouts. Before anything else, let me take a moment and raise a toast to the miraculous fact that we, in fact, passed out from what they call one of the “best universities in the country” (our nostalgic past would prevent us from disagreeing to this). We are living proof that despite NOT getting a mammoth figure in our 12th boards, we entered the gates of the University of Delhi with much pride, arrogance and spirit. None of us scored a cent percent. Well, we barely even knew anyone who did. And we respected each others potential regardless of how much we scored in that three hour exam in 12th grade, where most of us either panicked or puked on the paper.
An extra shot in the name of all those who went for honours in Journalism and English (and that includes me). What a ride we had! Running around from one college to another to sit for an individual entrance test for each college, cursing on the way that the distance between North and South campus was unprecedented and simultaneously realizing the importance, nay the supremacy, of the North over the South (campus-wise, at least). I remember missing to give the entrance for Gargi College on Siri Fort Road as it clashed with the entrance at Indraprastha College in Civil Lines. Both these colleges are at least 20 kilometers apart. And there was no way that the Delhi traffic could aid the satisfaction of having sat for both the tests.
In totality, I gave around seven entrance exams. In other words, I got seven fresh chances to enter the gates of DU. How many of us actually get such an opportunity? As an English and/or Journalism aspirant, DU seemed to understand (ostensibly so) that your 12th grade marks weren’t enough or the correct measure of your potential and that sitting for an entrance specifically meant for these courses would actually help the examiner see if the candidate is truely suited for the course. Tell me honestly, all you Journalism and English grads from yesteryear, did you really score 90 or above? Well, I didn’t. And I knew I wouldn’t even when I was confident that my board exams went well. There is only so much that you can push yourself and all of us have limitations in our individual potentials and capacities. I got through a college that still boasts of one of the best English departments. The running around had ended. I had secured a seat in a prestigious college despite the fact that I wasn’t one who belonged to the 90+ camp. A shot in the name of not scoring 90 or above please!
Do you remember smirking at students trying to get in in other programmes that didn’t have entrances and had direct cut-offs? I remember doing it and also feeling so lucky to be wanting to do a course that gave me another chance to prove my potential. I wondered how things would have been had I wanted to do Physics honours. I would have needed at least an aggregate of 94 per cent (this is six years ago). Today, I dread to think of the cut-off. My guess is 99 per cent but I may as well be wrong. Six years ago, as a science student, I still had the advantage of not being from the commerce background lest be subjected to sky-rocketing cut-offs. Even to be eligible for giving the English entrance, a minimum cut-off existed and I got a slack since I was shifting from science to humanities (probably a demolition in DU and everybody else’s eye and hence the relaxation).
By the time I reached second year, they started a new thing called CATE (Common Aptitude Test for English)- a common entrance for English across colleges. Again, I felt lucky that I was not subjected to the torture of giving a singular entrance to pave my way through and gauge my chances to enter multiple colleges. A moment of silence for those of you who did gave the CATE (a fancy improvisation on CAT) and did not get multiple chances to improve our scores like we did. By third year, they scrapped it again (only to re-introduce it a year later and then scrapping it again) and stuck to the cut-off system for every course. You get a 97, you can hope for a seat. You get anything less, you’re wasting your energy.
I scored 88 per cent in my 12th board. And I graduated in Literature from one of the best colleges in DU. And, today, I think the only reason I could do that was probably because it was in 2007. Years ago when people were not so obsessed with marks to reach the level of absolute ridiculousness. I’m enclosing here with this letter a picture of me during my DU days. Hoping to receive yours soon. Unless you’re already drunk with all the toasts for the day. 😉
Finally, a final toast to the fact that we all graduated, got our degrees (honours or otherwise) in three years and not four.
This letter was published on Campus Diaries, an online portal for storytellers alike, currently inviting posts on your views and response to DU cutoffs.