The Final Year Conundrums

The transition from school life to that of college could be subtle for a few but is mostly huge if not astronomical for many. I was someone from the latter part of it. Coming from a school that had a total strength of just 5(inclusive of myself) in 12th grade into a class of 60, when the size of a single department outsize that of the entire school, well my transition to college life was astronomical.

For one thing, you enter college life as an adult. Whether or not you are mentally capable of making sound judgments or decisions like an adult, well, that didn’t matter as you are officially one, as per the Indian constitution at least. And for a lot of you, this would be their first time away from parents as well. Homesickness, the lack of compatibility with the hostel food because of the obviously high benchmarks home-cooked food possessed, adjusting with the strangers from all across the state, and saving yourself from the troubles and ‘tasks’ of upperclassmen would mostly make up for the first semester of college. In fact, many would-be still clung to books and the single unscathed determination to be the “brightest student in the class” as usually dictated by our glorious school education system. Some would cherish the change and explore the opportunities presented. You’d also find 3 categories of people among the masses as well. And to put it in the engineer’s perspective since I’m one myself, they’re

1. Those who truly wanted to pursue engineering

2. Those who followed the bandwagon since they had zero clue

3. Those who were forced into taking it due to their lack of success elsewhere(mostly in medicine)/ due to parental pressure(something which I personally admonish)

PS: Keep these 3 categories in your mind for the time being

And for all three categories, the first year would be the cushion to absorb a multitude of feelings, regret, curiosity, excitement, and many more.

Sophomore marks the start of the true engineering syllabus, a time by which category 2 would have discovered what truly interests them. Whether engineering was the right choice or not. A few would drop out while the majority would stay. A few of category 1 must have also started to have second thoughts about their interests. And for category 3, this would be the time by which they’ve finally come out of their slump. Anyhow, everyone would have now been truly integrated with college life. Strangers in the first year have now become family. If you were an active chap in the first year, this would be the time when you were first given responsibilities, as a recognition of hard work, talent, and dedication. Nevertheless, your life cruises on, enjoying the glamourous days of youth, exhilarating events, excursions, class bunks, and what else!

The penultimate year would be the time you finally start to take up the roles of office bearers in clubs, organizations, etc. If I were to describe the third year with a single word, that’d be haphazardous. Throughout, you’ll be trying to strike a balance between academics and extra-curricular activities and duties, exams and events, assignments, and documentation. As per the MACE culture, this would be the year Takshak and Sanskriti are organized by them. The glory and legacy it’ll garner would all be dependent on the amount of heart and soul you pour into it.

And whoosh! Here comes the final year. You’d be amazed to see that 3 years just got over in a flash. You must be reminiscing of the time when you were still a freshman, trying to cope up and adjust with the abrupt change of life, and the amazing memories we’ve had with friends over the past years. And that’s where it all starts, The final year conundrums!

“So what’s so special about the final year of college? How’s it that different from the 12th standard? We’ve been faced with the hectic task of choosing our careers and making tough decisions back then as well right?” I’m sure every one of you might have a barrage of questions that you’d wanna ask me. Well, the final year of college is different from that of the former case for a multitude of reasons. We’ll take our own sweet time analyzing each one of those in detail, describing the whys and hows of it.

The final year of college is a fight for survival, one that will tax you mentally and physically for many reasons. You’ll have the professors giving you assignments one after the other, the final year project that’ll give you sleepless nights, the start of the placement race that’ll test your “employability”, and the painstaking reality of being an alumnus one year hence. The dilemma between whether to savour the final year and college life or to put your heart and soul into finishing the tasks at hand is tough work and at times a never-ending pain!

The dilemma between whether to savour the final year of college life or to put your heart and soul into finishing the tasks at hand is tough work and at times a never-ending pain!

Talking about the final year project that will eat away your patience and contribute to the bulk of emotional tensions on a timely basis through regular project evaluations and assessments, sigh, it’s a real herculean task. From the selection of the topic to motivating everyone to work towards it rather than procrastinating, fabrication of the item, surviving those viva questions and the compilation of the ultimate report to encompass everything you have done over the past 10 months is no child’s play.

Adding on to the list, preparing a proper resume, fitting everything you have into it in an aesthetic, pleasing manner is one of the first things you have to do at the start. To not have enough content is adversity many come across. And what’s even worse is the humongous amount of conflicting suggestions that come with it. Some like it traditional while others like it were colourful. This is also a time when a huge chunk of people start LinkedIn or at least update their profiles for the first time, cause you gotta “make connections, do some networking” while all you really wanna do is to make some Instagram reels.

A thing which I’ve noticed is the severe lack of importance that people have given to the development of soft skills over the years. It is a reality that Malayalam is one of the scheduled languages of the Indian constitution, but it’s sadly not the one that’s gonna be judged in the interview. Efficient communication is just as important as the possession of the required technical skills. And soft skills don’t come around that easily without practice and experience speaking to others. And this is one aspect many seem to struggle with during the placement drives, To have a good idea about what to say is a pre-requisite but the way to efficiently convey what’s on your mind is what many don’t give much attention to until sigh.. its already a bit too late. So to those readers reading this tiny blog, I’d advise you to work on it ASAP. It’s an avenger level threat that you gotta deal with :P

Now, coming to the placements, it’s a matter of quick solving of aptitude questions, lobbying the interview panel to show them how recruiting you can change the fate of the company altogether with elaborative(pre-mugged up) answers to expected questions, and witty, diplomatic ones to the rest. And when you are in a tier 3 institution, the chances of yourself ending up in an IT firm increases exponentially irrespective of the trade of engineering you’ve done your bachelor’s in. For many, these jobs are only short-term solutions, a way of buying some time before they go for something else. Meaning, to learn the art of coding, AI and all those techie stuff become another pain in the ass to realize this short-term goal while battling the final year challenges. And to those fortunate enough to bag multiple offers, there might also be this slight, fortunate-to-be-in-this-scenario dilemma to chose the best amidst the options after weighing in the conditions and aspects each of these offers hold for you.

Now, talking about short-term goals, let’s not forget about the bigger ones. And to achieve them, a major roadblock lies ahead- COMPETITIVE EXAMS. The arena of competition to get into a premium institution for higher studies just got bigger and fierce. In the country with the largest youth population, where the competition is stringent and fierce, making yourself noticeable and worthy requires a whole lot of dedication and hard work than it seems. The terms GATE, CAT etc might no longer invoke the same picture of the material or the animal the name represents, as we were taught from the younger days. Juggling between coaching classes and normal academics could be another hectic task at least a few must be facing along the way.

Talking about higher studies, it’s one way of prolonging the student life that many so desperately love to. But there’s another catch to it. Remember how I categorised people into 3 categories. Well, the first category might not face serious issues with their PG stream selection since it will be already from the stream he/she pursued during the undergrads. However for the other two, i.e., 2 & 3, it’s a different ball game for one, they are witnessing a shift in the path they’re taking, even a U-turn maybe. It’s their chance to finally seek redemption for the lack of clarity/ the circumstance that came to choosing UG and, set everything straight. For a selected few, there would also be a hassle as to make the perfect SOP to impress those foreign chaps to bag a seat at prestigious universities abroad and make believable reasons as to why you should be sponsored via a scholarship.

For the entrepreneurs that make up a very minute percentage, a rare outcome despite the screwed education system, there’s pressure from all around them to follow the herd, to join the rat race considering the risk of implementing their ideas and settle for a “stable job”. Determination and courage become their companions to take on the adversaries of peer, parental and societal pressure for everyone wants these young minds to settle for something real quick rather than letting them explore the risks while they’re still able to.

For girls, the term parental pressure makes its shift to a higher gear with the start of their “marriage age”. This issue is more pronounced in the case of orthodox families who’d want their daughters to be in “safe hands” at the earliest. Albeit this kind of situations has dwindled over the years, it’s still prevalent which is a saddening aspect.

Nevertheless, the never-ending cycles of efforts, hardships, and confusions become a part and parcel of the final year, the intensity of which increases towards its end as surges of nostalgia of the 4 wonderful years you have had at your 2nd home hits you hard. To be left in a quagmire while getting bombarded with thoughts from multiple angles and entities become a usual thing.

And what makes the decisions we take henceforth heavier is the fact that they no longer affect oneself, but those dependant upon us as well, our parents who’d patiently looked after us, supporting us financially over 2 decades of our life we were totally unproductive for.

We are certainly not superhumans to make the right judgment every time. Committing mistakes are what makes us humans, but not repeating the same mistake twice is what makes us wise. And wise decisions may not yield the perfect results as well. That’s life, unpredictable and uncertain in all ways. The only thing to remember is that we’re trodding down a road taken by many before, that everyone has been through these dilemmas at least once in their lifetime. To hit a roadblock sometimes is natural, but to overcome it with full might and vigour is what should matter. In the end, we are only but a speck of sand in this enormous universe, being left to solve the endless number of conundrums that we encounter on the path of life.

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