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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Mumbai: IIT-B Professors Share Experiences To Help Students To Cope With Stress - MId Day

Nov 11, 2018, 08:10 IST | Pallavi Smart

Institute gets professors to share experiences at IIT to help students cope with stress

Prof Soumya Mukherji chatted up with students at a session in Oct

What does it take to tick at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay? Possibly, just a heart-to-heart conversation between teachers and students. Or at least, that's what the academic council of the institute thinks so. In a novel attempt to reduce stress levels of students, the council has begun organising informal chat sessions between professors and students from IIT-B. The idea is to get the professors to talk about how they coped with the pressures they faced while preparing for the exams.

The new initiative, which kick-started in the last week of October, will be held once every semester, and will be scheduled just before the examinations, when stress levels among students are at their peak.

Sharing the stress
Adarsh Kumar, head of the academic council's Students' Support Group, which launched the initiative, said, "A lot of students are reeling under academic pressure."

Exam stress among IITians has been a pressing issue for a long time now. In September, Jaideep Swain, an MTech student at IIT-B, had committed suicide inside a hotel room. Back in 2015, Jitesh Sharma, a third year chemical engineering student, killed himself, while his examinations were on. 

There have also been a few suicide attempts within the campus. Apart from this, instances of talented students leaving the course abruptly, has also been a cause of worry. All of this compelled the council to look into the issue and find ways to alleviate the stress levels.

While IIT-B conducts regular workshops by experts and counsellors, the informal sessions between the students and teachers was seen as a good starting point to have difficult conversations. "When students discuss their problems with their professors, they are able to cope better," said Kumar. "The students can draw on their professors' life experiences, and understand how to move forward, especially when they are struggling during exams or need career advice," he added.

Sound advice
The first session in the series was held on October 25 with Prof Soumya Mukherji, who has been serving as dean of student affairs for almost three years now. Around 90 students attended the session. "We had planned a few questions to begin the session, but the students were more than enthusiastic to understand the professor's life on campus as a student," said Kumar. Appreciating the initiative, Prof Mukherji, said, "The point is to make these students realise that even their professors have gone through the same s**t and so, academic stress is completely manageable."

A student, who attended the session, said, "It's a different feeling, when someone who has gone through the same situation, tells you that everything is going to be all right."