September 9, 2013

Are Engineering colleges focussing too much on attire?

Hi Guys,

It has been a long time, since I wrote my last post. It was my term end and I was busy with projects and exams. It is refreshing to have a week break and I have thought of writing a series of posts. Lets see how it goes.

The first one I want to write is about the recent story of a Social Media Entrepreneur being turned away by a famous Engineering college in Chennai for not being in formal attire. The college invited him for a guest lecture and when he went there in casual attire, the college refused to let him address the gathering. The reason given was that the students were raised up in a disciplined way and allowing a guest lecturer to be in casual attire could spoil them. They gave him formal attire and asked him to change. He refused and came away.

Students being asked to dress in formals is a usual story in the so called best colleges, but asking a guest to be in formals is quite pathetic. Interestingly, this guest handles a course in my college on Social Media Marketing and is said to be one of the best professors. Last year, the assignment he gave to students was to perform a Harlem Shake in classroom and spread it on Youtube.

Having done my Engineering in a college where we had lot of restrictions on what to wear and what not to wear and currently doing my MBA in a college where there is literally no restrictions on what to wear (of course there are few, but no sane person would go beyond the limit) I think I have some points to make. Personally, my discipline levels have not gone down or up because of the attire I wear. I no longer have to worry about the attire I wear to my classes. It feels comfortable and level of discussions certainly goes up. I would say that these colleges should have a certain dress code, but it shouldn’t make students hate to go to college every day.

The concern of the college authorities that the students could be spoilt by the guest wearing casual attire is a very stupid thing. With the growth of technology, students have access to information from all across the world. They can certainly see what is happening around. The CEOs who have been very formal in their attire have made the biggest of crimes. Students would have certainly seen Steve Jobs delivering Keynote address in his famous T-shirt – Jean Combo. They would know that the most innovative of firms do not focus on attire.

By making students focus on these small issues, they fail to kindle the minds of students to do big things. The students’ life revolves around focusing on what would be the consequences of what he does and it would not allow the student to have any freedom on innovation or research. I have witnessed many of these incidents. A student who is interested in doing something innovative would go to a leading professor in his department. The professor would not heed to the student’s concept, but would rather focus on what he did against rules recently and how it affects the reputation of the institution. That would be the end of the student’s research.

No wonder these colleges produce scores of students with university ranks, but not with scores of students with good innovative projects. The lead university provides 50 ranks to the best performing students in academics. But, isn’t Engineering a research oriented field. Shouldn’t the awards be focused towards Research and Innovation. I myself belong in this top 50 category. But, to be true I never did a meaningful research. I never had the chance to do one. All I did was study and crack the exams. This is how our system works.

It is high time for them to focus on research rather than on discipline. I do not say that discipline is not required, but discipline should not be the only thing that is required.

Happy Reading!


  1. While I've always thought that it is my duty to be in my best attire while i was doing my engineering, my perception was shattered when i entered B-school environment. Even during engineering, when i visited IITs, i found students going around campus in capris. Does that mean that they are not disciplined? No. Engineering colleges just want to show off their students as disciplined and hence enforce these stupid rules. And when a best in class guy comes to deliver a talk, the most stupid thing would be asking him to change to formals. He's an achiever and he can show off. And if the College admin thinks otherwise, he may very well give a flip.

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