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Things Nobody Tells You About The Academics at Ashoka

Edited by Aditi Jain

 

Entering college can easily be compared to entering a whole new dimension, a parallel world that you might have dreamt about incessantly. Although, college can pan out in unexpected ways. In reality, all the exciting experiences and adventurous college stories you might have heard have some hard truths to them that no one really talks about. After the spell of Ashoka’s thrilling Orientation Week wears off, reality begins to set in. Through this article, I will try to bust some misconceptions about college academics for you and paint a picture closer to reality.

 

  1. It doesn’t matter where you have studied so far - the academics at Ashoka is uniformly hard for everybody. Even though talking about this difficulty remains a taboo for reasons unknown, you should know that you are not alone at all.

  2. No, you are not stupid if you don’t understand something in one try. Trying is very underappreciated at Ashoka and the most common reason why some students just “get it” here, is because they really try. 

  3. Everyone works at a different pace. The fact that it takes you three hours more than your peer to understand something  does not imply that you are any lesser than them. It only means that you study things differently and that is perfectly fine. 

  4. You might find some subjects, readings, topics, and lessons to be more complex than others. Although, complexity does not make the readings impossible to get through. [also refer point 2]

  5. There is a lot of subjectivity relating to everything at Ashoka - the professor teaching the course, the kind of course, the grade you end up with, the department that the course belongs to, etc. There is no hard and steadfast rule, and everything depends on numerous other factors, most of which have to do with chance. Steering clear of dejection, try to make peace with what you get, and always try to maximize your learning opportunities. 

  6. The grade craze is NOT worth it at all. You are not gaining much if the sole reason you are taking a course at Ashoka is for an “easy grade”. The person who gets the most out of a course is the true winner.

  7. The belief that you are actually smart if and only if you are on the Dean’s List every semester is far off the tangent of truth. The amount, type, and kind of material you absorb is way more important than the grade you end up with. [also refer points 5 and 6]

  8. It is not embarrassing when you have no idea about something that someone is conversing about. There is always pressure to seem “all knowing” with peers. Ashoka’s ideal Socratic principle - “The only thing I know is that I know nothing” - is sadly seldom put in practice. But, it is never too late to start saying “I don’t know about this. Can you please enlighten me?”

  9. You do not have to have an opinion about everything. Sometimes, it feels like you need to talk about everything to come off as smart. However, it is way more important to listen and learn all possible angles of an argument before giving your two cents.

  10. You are also not at all obligated to talk about everything under the sun. If a topic affects your mental health,  it is okay to not speak up if you don’t wish to. Feeling pressured to give an opinion on politics or the like is common, and it is okay to announce that you do not wish to talk about it. 

  11. Discourse is highly valued at Ashoka. Things can and do get dirty in the name of discourse. It happens in classrooms, virtually, and is ever present. Do not be afraid to speak up when you feel like you are being silenced, or ignored, or undermined during discourse

  12. The inferiority complex and the feeling of not being “enough” is in fact ubiquitous. Although you might think that you’re the only one who feels overwhelmed, it is not true at all. Almost everybody resonates with the feeling and talking to your peers about it can help you feel better.

  13. There is ample diversity in the kind of people, classes, readings, and discussions at Ashoka. This might seem like a huge jump, especially after a homogenous learning environment in school. Once you make it past the overwhelmed stage, I can assure you that it is enriching and enlightening.

  14. Romanticisation of over-working and stressing is not at all “cool”. Losing your sleep over “work” is not something to be proud of. This unspoken yet very existent peer competition of “Who Works the Hardest” is a huge myth and definitely not worth it. In this high stress environment, make sure to take care of yourself first.

  15. Help is available at Ashoka for anyone who seeks it. Do not shy away from scheduling office hours with your Professors, Teaching Fellows, Teaching Assistants, Resident Assistants, Counselors, and any centre that you might require help from. All you need to do is ask for help and you will get it in as many shapes, sizes, forms, and ways as possible. 

 

Ashoka has a lot to offer to anyone who has ventured into its embrace. You will undergo tremendous self growth just by being a student at Ashoka. As overwhelming as the academic atmosphere at Ashoka can get, it is equally enriching and beautiful. Take regular breaks between your study time, ask for help, stay as organized as possible, and remember to breathe. You will be fine.

A confused yet continuous work-in-progress with an affinity for pretty lighting and pink skies. Currently, a prospective Economics and Finance major at Ashoka.
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