Psyched about Psychology @ LSR, Delhi University, India?
Due to exceptional circumstances, for the purposes of protecting the academic and other interests of the author of this article, Polemics and Pedantics has made an editorial decision to withhold their identity. The article has also been purged of any information that could identify the author. We have, however, independently verified that the author did participate as a student in the said program at Lady Shri Ram College. Views expressed are purely those of the author.
What can be a better way other than starting an article with a cliché? ‘The Magic of LSR, Psychology Honours from Lady Shri Ram College’, ‘the best’ course from ‘the best’ college – that was my dream. It is exactly as dramatic and overwhelming as it sounds. Honestly, I went from being an ‘at the edge procrastinator’ who used to study only a night before the exam (which were 16 years of my life until 11th grade), to a ‘nerd’ who didn’t miss a class, fight for even half a mark cut by the teacher during 12th grade and being a topper. What marked the ‘happily ever after’ of this fairy tale (at least in my head) were two happiest days, one was the day when the boards results were declared and another when I finally made it through the cut off. Paradoxically, the dreamy fugue ended soon after when the reality of ‘life after happily ever after’ struck me. And well let’s just say, LSR happened.
Some experiences have stuck to my accord as clear as yesterday. Whenever I think about it I find myself smiling. One could freshly recall narratives from the classroom discussions during lectures which comprised of the teachers providing a platform to every individual where one could be more open, keep the negative preconceived notions & prejudices from your past school, family and most importantly the internalized automatic negative dialogues of oneself faraway & simply allowing your own self to shine. Undoubtedly, there are seeds of understanding, support, non-judgement which are sown by the teachers which is reap in the form of critical thinking, effective leadership and tremendous growth of the individual as well as the society.
One popular cognitive distortion given by Beck known as Dichotomous thinking (under Cognitive Therapy), commonly known as all-or-none thinking. The quality of faculty in the LSR Psychology Department could be explained in similar lines. While there are some teachers who excel in their respective interest areas, a hand few of them were often unable to quench the needs of the paper leaving the students disappointed. The faculty comprises of the PhD level researchers, scholars and gold medalists which naturally makes the ethos of the department is academically driven. In lines with the recent study by Figlio and Schapiro (2017) which showed that there is no relationship between teaching quality and research quality of the teacher, further the results showed that they are neither substitutes or complements of each other. Thus, traditional criteria of recruiting the teachers on the basis of their academic performance is not constructivist and in itself does not guarantee that the teacher will be effective inside the classroom.
A sense of shared similarity due to academically charged environment of the college which often results in a form of group polarization in imposition of matters such as choice of the optional papers, practicals in which students may have little or no say. It is not uncommon to see teachers become unaccommodating, in respect to their submissions and internals especially in the middle of the semester when workload for both the students and teachers are at the peak. However, the teachers are open to confront and supportive to resolve issues, which remains to be more like an exception as compared to other colleges under Delhi University.
The design of the curriculum in Psychology under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) incorporates providing choice to students to choose various electives like general elective (GE), ability enhancement elective course (AEEC) & discipline specific elective (DSE). The choice regarding the GE (informally referred to as ‘minor’) is made during the initial week of college in which the student has to study the subject for first two years of college, there were options of subjects comprising of Economics, Journalism, Political Science, Philosophy & Sociology which are often given to the students to choose from. AEEC is one of the five papers taught in the second year (in both the semesters), there was no chance given to the students to choose the paper & the papers to be taught were predetermined. DSE are taught in the third year, the comprise of two paper out of four (two each in both the semesters), the choice is now given to the students to vote for the papers they are keen to learn during the fourth semester.
A student in total studies 26 papers during the course, 20 within Psychology (4 papers of the respective GE & 2 under AECC) which gives an extensive exposure to almost all the possible streams in psychology in the course of three years. The various fields include Abnormal Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Organizational Behavior, Health Psychology, Educational Psychology, Social Psychology, Applied Social Psychology, Statistics, Developmental Psychology, Psychological Research etc.
The pressure of practical work is manageable until second year when one has two practicums per semester. But one finds it to be overburdened in the beginning of the third year where you have eight practicums per semester (two practicums per paper) as the pressure increases four-times. When one compares with the students of other DU colleges the practical work done in LSR is rigorous, never-ending and overwhelming. It becomes challenging especially in the third year where one is constrained with the paucity of time, not getting a sense of satisfaction from the work one is doing, experiencing a brain-drain by working 15 hours a day and trying to be sane at the same time. Even though it does create an inertia at that moment but in retrospection one is proud making through once it is all over.
The skill set one develops is rather sketchy in the beginning during the first year where the papers are basic in nature, after that an individual is literally like a coal under intensive pressure on its way to become diamond. The skills like time management, prioritizing, giving up procrastination, working on the edge, giving presentations, presenting researches come handier to after the end of three years. Additionally, one strengthens soft skills like active listening, becoming more empathetic, understanding and non-judgmental (regardless of wanting become a psychologist or not).
Next comes the opportunities provided the institution regarding internships & placements. Formally, the Placement cell (Pcell) of LSR is highly reputed and renounced in the Delhi University when it comes to providing placements to the students. The rat-race for placements is quite evident for commerce stream like Economics honors, B.com even Stats & Maths honors followed by the courses of the social sciences like Journalism, English and so on.
One of the main causes of this being that the demand for getting placed in courses of social sciences is less as majority of the students prefer to go for their masters, which leads to the subsequent effect of lesser supply of opportunities as well. Recently, the Pcelll of LSR has been keen on providing opportunities which cater into the needs of the students pursuing humanitarian courses.
One of the main limitations for the Psychology students at the same time is that the opportunities to work in a clinical set-up, getting supervised under psychiatrists & psychologists is not catered both by the Pcell and the Psychology Department. The students have to depend heavily on personal contacts & be blind-folded most of the time and hope that the opportunity they are getting into will be worth their time and often money. As most of the time students, have to pay from their own pocket in order to get an internship.
The reasons for these are also stringent & less likely to change in the coming years. The main reason being that the structure of the curriculum of CBCS course in DU does not take into account the work done during internships, as it is not mandatory for the students. For some universities it is mandatory for the students to finish particular hours as they are evaluated on their performance. Some of the universities which have internships as a part of their curriculum include Amity University Tata Institute of Social Sciences & Christ.
In order to become a psychologist, one should be mentally determined for investing in something which is long-term as in order to practice one needs to complete education at least till Masters in order to apply for the courses recognized by Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) which is a mandatory criterion to get the RCI number for practice. Other challenges include the intensity of the course itself, lack of intrinsic motivation, desire to experiment in other fields are some of the other reasons which result in students losing interest in clinical based-psychology internships and placements altogether.
Nonetheless, there are ample of opportunities an individual gets to contribute to the respective department as well as the college by being a part of various teams, clubs and societies in LSR which supplement well with the ethos of the field and is something which can be added to the CV as well. One starts by being a member in the first year and can apply as a sub-head or head in the second and the third year.
Overall, no doubt the course makes you a rational and resilient human being. I would recommend the course to everyone who is passionate about the subject and plans a career ahead in the field (and manages to get through the cut off). I will give it 4/5 stars as a heads up in that scenario.
However, if you are an individual who would like to sit for placements and plans to work after college then I will recommend you to go for courses in commerce like Economics Hons & B.Com even if you get through the cut off , you will most likely feel conflicted and disheartened in the long-run if you end up taking Psychology. Lastly, if you planning to pursue Psychology Honours as a generic humanitarian course from LSR then again that is not recommended because you won’t get time to experiment & explore as you will be overburdened with the reports to do and will inevitably be bound to experience burnout after a point. In that case I will strongly recommend undergraduate courses like Journalism and English which will provide you with that freedom.
I hope this insightful article will be of help in case you or anyone from your friends or family are looking forward to apply! Wish you all the best for your future endeavors!
Views expressed are personal and not those of Polemics and Pedantics. Queries to the author may be directed through our email here.
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