IITs host ‘fresher’ workshops for senior students joining campus two years after admission

Unlike every year, when the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) conduct special sessions to introduce freshers into campus life, the premier tech schools this year are doing the same for their senior batches.

With the pandemic disrupting campus life and batches admitted in 2020 and 2021 finishing most of their learning online, the IITs this year are also holding orientation sessions for the second and third-year BTech students to help them ease into campus life; almost like freshers.

Jayesh Dhar (name changed), a second-year student at IIT Bombay is finally living his dream life of an IITian. Even though he was able to secure a seat at the coveted tech school last year, he moved into his hostel on campus just a few months back when IIT Bombay started welcoming students in full strength.

However, the institute administration was aware that second-year students like Dhar, despite being relatively senior, would have to be initiated just like any other fresher this year. Hence, IIT-Bombay held special orientation sessions along with crash-course modules to help second and third-year students to acclimatise to the campus life quickly.

“Our second and third-year students are freshers for all practical purposes. We have held orientation programmes for them too. It was important to give them information about the institute and life on campus. It also included training on how to mentor first-year students. Generally, this is an organic process as students learn through peers, who are their seniors and have lived on campus longer. But due to the pandemic, there was a gap in the peer-learning and we have taken efforts to bridge it,” said Professor Tapnendu Kundu, Dean Student Affairs at the IIT Bombay.

There’s a similar story playing out at other IITs too. “It is like a reset button has been hit for the senior students. Their academic activities started much before campus life began.  Living on campus, participating in extra-curricular activities help in holistic development of students that IITs are known for and this was missing for two years. Even in the case of conducting extra-curricular activities, the students are not as confident as they were pre-pandemic. Then they had seniors who helped them understand the process,” said a professor at IIT Delhi.

IIT Madras adopted a two-pronged approach to easing students into campus life. “On the academic front, students had missed workshops, laboratory sessions. Hence, activities were planned in such a way that students of each batch could complete most of these sessions in offline mode as part of the winter and summer vacations. This was expected to help them to focus on continuing their academic program without much disturbance. On the non-academic front, the student teams in collaboration with the wellness centre in the Institute have introduced various activities and mentoring sessions to involve freshers and overcome anxiety and nervousness as seen in them. Senior students enrolled before the pandemic have played a crucial role in arranging extra-curricular and career guidance activities,” IIT Madras spokesperson said.

At IIT Guwahati, senior students coming back to campus have been offered a bigger basket of minor and open elective courses to choose from and more activities by the student gymkhana. When asked about fresher-like confusion and anxiety was observed in senior batches as they started their campus, a senior administrator at the IIT Guwahati said, “Apart from the Centre of Holistic Well-being, the Institute has several different initiatives in place to prevent any case of distress among students. Saathi Club runs mandatory one-to-one interactions between the counsellors and the fresher to orient them towards the counselling process and the functioning of the counselling cell. Peer Mentorship Programme has been introduced with the objective to help freshers in the transition to the Institute and its style of functioning. Additionally, life-skills workshops are held on campus for which students can register voluntarily.”

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