Mention IIJNM, and almost every alumnus, including me reminisces about the picture-perfect sprawling campus, lush greenery that surrounds it and so on and so forth. But then, after the initial few seconds, the conversation steers towards the stories they covered, the people they met while reporting, the friends they shared rooms with and teachers that taught them.
All conversations with close friends stick to the above format. But there’s only so much you can talk about the aforementioned topicsâexcept for one: the faculty, the people that make the college for what it is. That part stays with you, long past your graduation.
I enrolled in IIJNM simply because I was impressed with the curriculum. I didn’t apply elsewhere, because I thought the syllabus was especially designed for me. Not once did I look who the faculty was or what they did in the past. Coming from an engineering background, I, like most other engineers, discounted the requirement of good professors in a college.
I look back now, and realize how very wrong and how incredibly lucky I had been.
This is more than a nostalgia-inducing memory. The college was, and continues to be my mecca of inspiration, for one and one reason aloneâthe faculty. It has been over a year since I graduated and every visit to the college (has been at least a dozen times) has given me hope, and courage to face everyday realities in the world of journalism. Highly qualified and easily approachable, the teachers here instill a sense of confidence, drill journalistic ethics all the while guiding you through your learning. The people you learn from are all full-time journalists who've seen it and done it all. So any set ideas about how one should be, what one should study, or wear, or talk or eat, or read are easily demolished in the first few weeks. You’re given a free hand, and asked to experiment. You are expected to make mistakes, and if you make interesting ones, you’re applauded.
Everything that is flawed with the conventional education system in India – those blasted memory-based tests, the absence of a practical approach to learning, a strict, almost fearful relationship with professors – does not exist here. At IIJNM, I was given the freedom to explore, chase any story I wanted to, even if I was treading the thin line between religious belief and science. It took me a couple of months to understand the student-teacher equation at IIJNM. I remember being subtly reprimanded by my professor, when I continued to address him as Sir, post my graduation. “We’re colleagues now, Krithika,” he said, further demolishing my preconceived notions.
So, the bottom line: Should you enroll in IIJNM? There are certain things you can assume beforehand about the college: Yes, you will have a great time. Yes, you will land a good job. Yes, you will make friends for life. And yes, you will learn everything you need to survive in the field of journalism. But, honestly, all of that is secondary, or even tertiary. What you will gain, more importantly, is a renewed perspective to life. First-hand knowledge of what your life will be like when you become a journalist.
The college changes you-that much is certain. It changed me, for good. And who knows, may be in about two years, you’ll be penning down something similar in the capacity of a successful journalist and an IIJNM alumna.
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