To College or Not to College

I finished my schooling back in 2010. As norms have it, I was supposed to join a college. But I didn’t.

My question: Why the fuck?

Hell broke loose! Relatives were all restless, self-righteous were giving lectures, concerned were trying to explain and dad nagged me day-and-night. But even after seeking advice of respected ones; there was little logic anywhere.

I didn’t think I could learn anything valuable in a college. So why go? Just because everyone does? It’s funny how “education” (I call it literacy) is not good enough for the real world. And still they are the standard. Irony!

So I took a gap year, to figure out my life and what next. During my gap year, I failed a startup, helped people, failed people, lost things, gained things, travelled, met people and did things I always wanted to do.

They told me I was wasting an year. I though it’s wise to waste 1 year than waste 3 doing something I am not sure about. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Totally worth all the repercussions I was told about. (I am yet to see any)

Without it I’d have lost my brains to year-after-year score game. Someone else tells you your worth.

The College

Fine Arts was the only option that looked hopeful. Computer Science is a joke (as they teach it here), humanities is ‘cram it all’ game, and engineering… well let’s not talk about it. So I joined Govt. College of Art, Chandigarh - one of the most reputed art colleges in India. Another good decision!

In just one month it has taught me a lot. Apart from learning art, I learned (and still am) a lot about people.

It’s the same dividing line everywhere: those who know where they are headed and those who don’t. This simple thing makes a huge difference.

Learning, here, is a bit different process. We learn by doing and daring to do it wrong. We don’t learn as much as from each other and seniors as from teachers (if not more).

There is no end to useful critique in college, and no end to bull-shit either. Though value to poop ratio is towards the better side. To know the difference, you’ve got to use your own brains and common-sense.

I now see what Buddha meant when he told not to follow his teachings blindly but to test them first. Also, I see value of good editing too.

Only problem I’ve with my college is it’s timing. 9-5 becomes a job like thing. If that wasn’t enough, they do 2 days of work in 5 days. Oh and the degree is for 4 bloody years.

But then last Friday something unexpected happened. I tried water color painting. Painted same thing 5 times! And not even a single minute was boring. In fact, I was running around in lunch break to get some feedback. It’s fun when you learn something new.

I wish minimum required attendance wasn’t 75%. It has sort of hampered my work.

The Teachers

Teachers have the same dividing line - those who know where they are headed and those who don’t. That makes or breaks the passion for teaching and their interest in the very thing they are teaching.

You can see those who want to teach, and those who are there because they were not good enough for anything else. What an ironic teacher they make. As Prajjwalput is for his college, “Yea right! A Scala and C expert. If they were experts, they wouldn’t be doing 15k a month job.”

Then there are teachers with whom you are in a different world. They see artists in you, not a student.


In the end college is just a fertile ground, it’s up to you what you make of it. Full of opportunities, any and all types and ample time at disposal. It’s like living your life in brief for once. How you treat your college is practice of how you treat your life.

Or maybe like so many others, you let the college treat you the way it does - and let life treat you the way it does.

It’s funny how many people tell me they wanted to take art when they hear I am studying art. Don’t play that game, if you are not doing what you like, love or want to - then dude - it’s not worth it.

As for me, I still have mixed feelings about it. I had an interesting conversation with a classmate that explains how I feel:

Him: This is the best time, we are free. It won’t be nice when we’ll need to make money and do work.

Me: Oh! That’s what I did last year - work, money and learning. I liked it better.

If you are still not sure about college, take a gap year or two. Travel, meet people, read books… live some life. That will make you clear about it. College won’t put anything in your hand, but it will put a lot of things within your reach.

You are reading a post that I wrote a long time back—at least 13 years ago. Take it with a bag of salt.

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