If you are a parent of a child who just passed 10th, you might be inclined to enrol him/her into an integrated PU college. Integrated colleges are attractive for they provide a unique curriculum, wherein students can prepare for their competitive exams simultaneously with their basic syllabus. While this type of schooling might seem ideal to some, it is important to fully understand what you are going to put your child through, before you sign up.
While all colleges are different in some way, the science PU colleges that provide “packages” are mostly similar. There are packages like “IIT”, “Mains”, “CET”, “NEET” etc. In basic terms, your payment will depend on what you want your child to prepare for. “IIT” and “NEET” are the most expensive courses, ranging from Rs 1.0-1.7 lakhs a year.
Most middle class people don’t mind spending all that money if they believe their child will get a seat into a good college. But what they don’t realise is that for extraordinary results, extreme measures are taken here in these colleges.
So, what are these “extreme measures?” Students are expected to spend upto 10 hours in college, everyday, including Saturdays. There is no concept of games period, and students barely ever get to step outside the class except for breaks. Going to the bathroom during a lecture is looked down upon, and sometimes is even reported to parents.
Apart from all that, any activity apart from studies is discouraged. Teachers tend to target students and are partial towards students they like. There are no grounds for sports or anything. Students are treated like prisoners.
The college discourages discussions between girls and boys, and even have different buses for the different genders. Skipping college is not an option; if a student is not marked present; his parents are called repeatedly, and annoyed to the point that they are forced to send their child. There are 3-4 tests a week, and if a student skips/fails a test, he/she is forced to stay back for two hours every day, for the next week.
Naman (name changed), a graduate from a PU College says “the conditions we had to study in were unreasonably low. Classes were overcrowded, teachers spoke in a language (Telegu) few of us didn’t know and there was no space for enjoyment whatsoever.”
Apart from that, the environment is not even positive. Students and teachers are both pressurised to complete deadlines and stress becomes the theme song of these colleges. Students with poor grades are repeatedly ridiculed and embarrassed in front of peers. “Teachers are not feeling too great either, many complaining about chest pains and severe migraines. Recently, my math teacher fainted while scolding us.” says Videep (name changed). Jairaj, a student from a PU College, says “time allotted for studying is short and the temper of the teachers is even shorter. Pressure is employed to teach topics, and instead of testing our skills, they test our patience.”
Even though most students brave these harsh environments, many can’t. Students forgo their passions and even end up hurting themselves to get through the pain. Many suicide cases have been recorded in the past few years, in multiple branches of these colleges. Shrikumar (name changed) says, “my close friend and I used to be classmates; we went to a PU college together. He used to repeatedly harm himself, by bruising his wrists and pushing thumb pins into his palm. He often had suicidal thoughts because he wasn’t living upto his parent’s expectations. We helped him get through it.”
Despite such a brutal environment, most of these institutions don’t employ any counsellors. Vaishnavi (name changed), a graduate from one such institute says “we didn’t have any emotional support; or anybody to talk to. Our English teacher was the only teacher who actually cared about us.”
When asked about her experience, she says “you go in with a little hope and lose it all because of the highly competitive nature of everyone, which might be a good thing when we keep competitive exams in mind; but is actually very discouraging. Those who did not perform well were made to feel extremely inadequate and degraded by some of the teachers. We were even compared with our peers. The teachers do know their subject, I must not lie. But everything that they teach is only with the aim of scoring; for a person seeking real knowledge of the subject the place is horrible. Concepts are taught on the basis of marks and nothing else.”
Dr Priya, an education expert, says “It is really surprising that these colleges with such intense courses and micro schedules still exist. It is 2017, yet we still believe that the best way to get marks is by burdening the student with ultimate pressure. While that may work for some, these colleges are not meant for everybody and if you are hesitant about them, you are better off away from them.”