SPA, New Delhi
A PEEK INTO SPA_AN INCREDIBLE JOURNEY FULL OF HIGHS AND LOWS
The rigor of the acamedics can often lead to unprecedented stress. There isn't any effort from the college to help students cope with this stress. A councillor was appointed for a only brief while. We don't find support among the faculty either. The student community is what helps us cope with the difficult life. The administration, as in most government institutions, is difficult to navigate. The good thing is that you don't have to deal with them directly. You will experience their inefficiency indirectly though. They will be in limelight for those who join the studens' council. Gear up for hell. If one is extremely sure about pursuing architecture, then the college provides one with enough opportunities. But one should truly ponder if one is cut out for it. This career is one that rewards those with patience. Though the financial compensation maybe be minimal immediately after graduation, a firm established after a few years of practice can open up avenues for great growth. It is incredibly rewarding to see one ideas transformed into habitable spaces. But these moments are few in comparison to the moments of struggle in the incipient stage of the career. The commercial pace of the industry will leave little time and effort to be spent on design and a disproportionately large chunk spent on production, which may not be as rewarding as spending a semester on one design as in college.
FEE STRUCTURE AND FACILITIES
The payments are made at start of the academic year by DD. The fee break up was transparent. The fees was feasible when I had taken admissions. But it has increased by leaps and bounds since, without any new amenities to justify it. The hostel and other day to day expenditures are manageable. There is a cost for stationary throughout, for print outs and architectural models. In the initial years, the cost is minimal, with only the semester end finals becoming a costly affair. One can be expect a cost of around 5000 per month during these months. As the scale of the project increases, so does the stationary expense. The thesis project will surely burn a hole in the pocket. Depending on whether you make the models yourself or hire a professional model maker, the cost can range between 20000 to 70000. The high quality prints too will be expensive.
In 2017, when I passed out of college we did not have a placement cell or an internship cell. Through our relationship with our seniors, we come to know of firms and apply directly. The industry perception as 'the best college in the country' holds for many. Some are more aware of eroding quality of education and faculty and do not trust the college brand. The alumni of the college mostly give us an interview in the least. An good portfolio could help get that dream job. Good internships may also covert into jobs post college. We had started work on placements while in college. Since we've passed out, there is now an active committee and placement procedure. Many MNCs and stand alone firms are a part of the list who visit.
The admission was solely through the ranks received in the entrance exam named AIEEE paper 2. Once the ranks were published, we had to list out our preferences of the list of colleges viz SPAs and NITs. There were multiple rounds of allotment. In each round we could opt out if we were satisfied with the allotment or continue to look for a better option as per our preferred list. Once we finalize the college, we had to get the certificates verified at one of the designated centers along with a DD for part payment of the fees. This meant that we could go to the college directly for the joining, where the rest of the admission process would be completed. The verification process took a day and the process at the college another couple of days. The process is pretty starightforward, though not very systematic.
The hostel seats are very few. In a batch of 120, only around 50 get a seat. The ratio for the girls is better. The basis of allotment is marks from the previous year. This also means that rooms change every year. Packing up the room and then unpacking is an ordeal every year. Most of the allotments, specially in the first 3 years are shared rooms. The students don't get a room share with others, in the already shared rooms. Initially this was unofficial. Later stress on amenities made this official, which meant paying extra for the same cramped rooms. As a few of the students took up apartments, the crunch became manageable. They pay an average rent of around 7000 per month. This coupled with other expenses brings their total to more than triple the amount that hostellers spend monthly. Though we suffer throughout due to lack of infrastructure, the hostel life more than make up for it. It is where we have the best of times and is a big factor that helps us maintain our sanity amidst the academic rigor and stress. Games, vibrant nightlife and social events are many. As the saying goes, we work hard and party harder.
The bond with the seniors is a special one and there is scope for a lot of learning as we help them out with their projects. The realtionships are developed on academic front as well as through societies. NASA is a platform that brings together different batches. These bonds help us to find firms for placements and jobs. We can find many like minded people which may open chances of collaborations that extend beyond the college years. There is limited interaction with the alumni. But sharing the alma mater can provide us with job opportunities.
The quality of the faculty varies as starkly as one can imagine. We do across brilliant minds who not only excel in the field and are able to educate students with expertise, but are also exceptional human beings. They inspire us, reminding us to be thankful of this opportunity to be studying in one of the best architectural colleges of the country. Sadly most people who belong to this category are visiting faculty, which means that one gets but a few classes with them. The permanent faculty are not allowed to practice architecture and this reflects in the quality of teaching, specially for design. There are a few who still have the expertise to be a guide to us. But the majority are inept. With nothing to offer academically and their fickle minded evaluation of our work, they make life extremely difficult for the students. There are a few who do not deserve to teach anything, let alone be a faculty in one of the best colleges of the country. The average age of the faculty is well above 50. The ratio of faculty to students is low, though I'm not aware of the figure. We are made aware of this as faculty with no experience or background take up technical or theoretical subjects. With the politics that goes on in government institutions, it is not the most deserving who take up charge as the heads of various departments.
I would rate the campus life as pretty good. The academics is quite stressful. But some faculty make it worth the ordeal. The opportunities that one is presented due to the legacy of the college and it's location is what makes this campus worth, academically. The gender ratio was 1:2 in 2012. I've seen it change across years; to around 1:1 in 2017. The impartial entrance exam ensures a great diversity among students. There are people from every corner of the country and this creates a unique learning environment. Though students in Delhi are in majority, that doesn't create groupism. I have neither experience nor heard of any bias based on ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation. But prejudices do affect marks in often subtle ways. The societies for various cultural activities exist and provide ample opportunity to explore one's interests. It takes great time management to pursue these along with the academics. If you do strike a balance without compromising on sleep, then you have reached god level. For others, the college fests are a great platform.
COURSE CURRICULUM OVERVIEW
The course expands over 10 semesters; one of them is an internship at an architectural firm. The subjects covers design,supplemental technical subjects and theoretical subjects that vary across the semesters. Most of the weightage is given to timely assignments spread across each semester. Some subjects have an exam at the semester-end while others have a jury, that is an evaluation of the work by an external member. The exams do not require much effort. Through out the course our hands our full with the assignments; sleep and lifestyle habits may be compromised. The semester end ensures a hectic schedule that becomes incredibly tough, specially for the last-minuters. A few subjects' assignments involve research but most of them, specially in the initial years, can be completed with minimal effort. A couple of subjects towards the end, such as dissertation and thesis, lay importance on research. But the quality of research is poor. Every semester, majority of the time goes into design, which accounts for the biggest chunk of marks. Here one spends the entire semester on one design project. The most appropriate articulation for the project brief is sought and presented. The focus is on qualitative aspects and resolution of spaces. Financial aspects and construction techniques are barely touched upon, which reduces the practical value of this pedagogy. In a real life scenario, one also cannot possibly invest so much of time and effort into design. all of these make the design process idealistic and not very pragmatic. Across most of the assignments and submissions, the grading is subjective. There isn't a clear right or wrong. Our marks are completely at the discretion of the faculty. While most of them value hard work, there are underlying as well as blatant prejudices. Stepping on the wrong foot may also result in, albeit quite rarely, a personal vendetta that ends with the student failing the semester. The playing field is unfair. Identifying this and working around it is possible though.
The college fest are a closed affair and do not see the participation of other colleges. But they are a blast. The closed knit community ensures a great spirit. It a one of kind synergy that one gets to be a part of. For every student, Utopia means some of the fondest memories. There is a society for all kinds of cultural activities and this ensures quality performances during the fest. The college is transformed into an artistic splendor with paintings and installations, this becomes the one outstanding feature of the fest. Since 2015, we have guests and artists who come and preform. An annual sports meet and various mini tournaments, mostly conducted in the hostel premises, dot the year. They bring out the inter batch spirit, a friendly competitive event. The emotions again make up for the lack of infrastructural amenities. An inter SPA sports meet has been started, though it is in its incipient stages. The annual meet for students not architecture sees the college teams competing with other architectural colleges for national trophies. The meet is primarily centered around academic themes and includes documentation of existing architecture, design competitions as well as display of students' work. Exhibitions, seminars and talks are conducted through out the year. They are organised by the students' body as well as by the faculty. Renowned architects and other personalities often come to these events.
LOAN/ SCHOLARSHIP PROVISIONS
I did not apply for any loan or scholarship. The college did not offer any scholarship other than the cash award for 5 students in the final year.