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Monday, August 28, 2017

IIT-D steps in to make home shift easy for kids - TNN

Krittika Sharma | TNN | Aug 27, 2017, 02:37 IST

New Delhi: Leaving the comfort of home, perhaps for the first time, and being thrust into one of the toughest engineering colleges in India might be an intimidating experience for youngsters. Several suicides and attempts to kill themselves at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, indicate the stress that youngsters find themselves in. The institution has now taken steps to make this transition easier for new students. 

The IIT-D Board of Student Welfare (BSW) has packed old wine in new, more ergonomic bottles, so to say. From making round-the-clock, anonymous online counselling available to students to reintroducing interaction sessions, the administration is doing everything to reassure the freshers and create a cushion of familiar people around them. 

According to V Ramgopal Rao, director, the humanities and social sciences departments submitted a report last month on why students fall back on academics and recommended steps on how to help them deal with pressure. "The departments found that the first semester was the most critical, and if students manage to get through that, they will do well through their course at IIT-D," Rao said. 

In step with the recommendations, the Hindi cell of the institute, till now restricted to translating administrative directives, has been assigned the job of helping first-year students from Hindi-medium schools to cope with academics. Rao himself meets faculty members weekly to sensitise them to student issues. "We tell the teachers to be gentler in their dealings with the students, establish a connection and engage with them on a more personal level," the director explained. 

Teaching assistants have also been deployed to sit from 8pm to 10pm at the hostels and help students with their studies.

As soon as the minors — the first tests in the course — are over, three counsellors will visit each hostel and counsel students on what to expect in the future and how to handle the burden. BSW member Divyam Gupta said this exercise used to be done in the first few weeks after the start of a new session, but was rescheduled to after the minors. Gupta explained this was "because after spending some time here, the students can connect to counsellors better and understand the issues that might crop up".

BSW has also reintroduced the Student Teacher Interaction Council (STIC) dinner, considered last year to be 'ineffective and so terminated. While the earlier dinners were formal and departmental, this year the groups are smaller and the students selected on the basis of common teachers. "In an informal setting, the freshers are able to speak to teachers and teaching assistants in a more relaxed atmosphere," said Gupta.

Sperenza, the annual cultural event, is also expected to help. "Most of the time, only those excelling in particular activities take part because the events are competitive," a student pointed out. "This time, we have organised talks and even meetings with alumni that are non-competitive. These will help newcomers to integrate better."