Autonomous colleges taking toll on students

After a few colleges in the city received autonomous status a few years ago, it seemed like academic results would improve dramatically.

However, with the increasing academic workload and peer pressure to perform better, students are being subjected to what psychologists are calling 'pressure cooker syndrome'.

As study pressure increases at autonomous colleges,
students' performance levels plunge drastically

While colleges and lecturers argue that with a respectable tag of being autonomous attributed to the college, performance levels should rise.

This is the reason the colleges have introduced at least 3-4 internships, over five assignments per week and additional certificate courses.

With the increased pressure and the fully occupied co-curricular activity chart at these colleges, students are now bearing the brunt of the pressure.

"We conducted a study across all autonomous colleges and sent another team to study the non-autonomous colleges. What we found was absolutely shocking.

Performance levels of students at autonomous colleges have dipped by 70 per cent, when compared to the earlier performance chart before they achieved the autonomous tag.

Further, when we compared the results of same courses offered by both autonomous and non-autonomous institutions, the latter reflected better performance," Shailaja Kumar, a student counsellor from the city said.

Pressure taking toll
The team further learnt that students at autonomous colleges were forced to be actively involved in both academic and non-academic activities at all given points of time.
Interestingly, when lecturers from these colleges were questioned about the increasing load on students, they asserted that living up to the name matters.

"Students choose a particular college because of brand name, academic structure, environment, post academic benefits (like placements) and past history of good performance.
The motto of any autonomous college is to churn out students better equipped to face the real world, than those who graduate from non-autonomous colleges.
However, quality of teachers and students has both gone down. There is definitely a rift between setting down a rigorous training structure for all round development of students and getting the desired results," said John Thomas, academic expert.

Brewing concerns
Meanwhile, the growing number of cases of depression amongst college students have got student counsellors worried. "We have students coming in all the time with complaints of feeling low.
They often claim that they are not able to put aside enough time for themselves, after multi-tasking for hours at college and even post that.

While we do try to explain to them that it is eventually going to pay off when they step out of college, some severe cases that could lead to suicidal tendencies are dealt with through counselling and therapy," said Nidhi Jain, a student counsellor at a reputed city college.

Further, students assert that with the increased pressure, they are finding less time to socialize. "My 'me' time is affected. Earlier I used to spend at least two hours practicing with my guitar.

I had even joined self-defense classes over the weekends, but now I spend not only weekdays, but even weekends working on assignments and at internships," said J T Vivek, a second year BCom student at St Josephs College.

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