Written by UC CAAS Student, Aashna Garg, Grade XI, Treamis World School, Bengaluru.
Are you looking for a fruitful summer vacation that includes working on your profile for college applications? Well, here is something that I did during my summer break (which sadly ends in about a week), I attended the Young Scholars Program at Ashoka University in Sonipat, Haryana.
At first, it sounded unsafe because of the location and mostly a waste of time traveling all the way from Bangalore to Sonipat. But when I learnt more about the 3 variations of the YSP Program: General, Computer Sciences, and Sciences, I got super excited. After thoroughly researching other programs, I felt that YSP General was worth my time, energy and money. After all, the purpose of a summer program is to get out of the comfort zone, make new friends, and experience the life of a college student, right? So I was all set to push myself and immerse in this experiential programme.
Here are some of the key aspects that I loved about my journey:
- The Campus: Ashoka University has a beautiful campus. While the walk from the dorms to the cafeteria and the venue of the lectures could get a bit tiring, it was overall a good way to take a break between classes and just relax. The campus is away from the main city, and the nearest metro station is about a half an hour away, with difficulty getting cabs and taxis. Due to this, the university has its own shuttles at scheduled times that take you to and from metro stations. Moreover, there are many different food outlets and a store with all the essentials, from toothbrushes to notebooks and pens. Nearly everything you need is already there on campus.
- The Residence Halls: YSP is a residential program and that was a huge factor for me to consider. The rooms are alloted on a twin-sharing basis to students. Initially, I was apprehensive about the room, but the dorm rooms were truthfully not as bad as I expected. The rooms have two single beds, cupboards, desks, chairs, and 2-3 shelves. They also provide two small soft boards and whiteboards which was important for me since I keep penning down my thoughts from time to time. All the rooms have centralised air conditioning as well. In my opinion, the dorm room was comfortable and “aesthetic.”
- The Schedule: Looking at the schedule for YSP General, I thought it had some very intriguing lecture topics, and the classes didn’t disappoint. Every day we had around five classes, out of which two were lectures, then a critical thinking module, one 21st-century skill workshop, and, lastly, a lecture from a guest speaker. We also had one special class by a Nobel laureate. Before dinner, there were fun activities planned for us like “Talent night,” “Sports night,” “chat and chaat night” (which became a dance night after yours truly and her friends started singing along to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” and dancing to Bollywood songs, I have no regrets). Basically, we were kept busy throughout the day and had loads of fun.
- The Counsellors: At YSP, there were several counsellors who helped administer and oversee the entire program. These counsellors were the university’s own students who had volunteered to do guide us younger students through our journey at Ashoka. The whole program was so much more enjoyable just because of these counsellors because they understand high school students, what they want, and what they might like. Asking about college life, university applications, high school studies, and any other doubts were really easy with them. They helped us, or at least me, feel at home for the entire duration.
Now that I have discussed the advantages or the “pros” of attending YSP, I do want to highlight 2 slight problems that I faced, and you might too.
- Too many students, so don’t get overwhelmed: The program’s popularity has gained exponentially over the years. Our lectures happened either in the auditorium or the indoor sports arena, because the program had around 500-700 students from all over India. Therefore, keep in mind that there will be many students like you, so if you are looking to make personal connections with the professor or the lecturers, then you will have to try a tad bit harder.
- A packed schedule. Are you ready for it?: The lectures are usually for an hour with a break of just 15 minutes in between. Before dinner, there’s sports night, followed by talent night, and other activities. After dinner, you have your residence hall activities organised by the counsellors. So, everything gets over by around 10:00 pm, which is when you might want to hang around and make friends. That means you will stay awake till late, and be honest, when was the last time you slept on time and got a good 6-8 hours of sleep? So, the next day you are exhausted, running on caffeine, and you realise you have lectures to attend and activities to do. 😉
The bottom line is that everything has its pros and cons; you just have to find what matters to YOU! For me, the exhaustion and the overcrowdedness were far less significant compared to the interesting lectures, the fun and friendly counsellors, the memorable campus, and the many friends I made. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, then you might like Ashoka’s Young Scholars Program. After the program, I can confidently say that I was pleasantly surprised and thankful that I chose it.
Why did I recommend this activity to Aashna?
At UC, we are always looking for meaningful experiences for our students. Looking at Aashna’s overall personality and deep inclination towards social and creative pursuits, it was only natural to recommend the Ashoka Summer Program to her. To see her be more independent and evolve as a leader has been a pleasure for us to watch and for her to experience.
We only endeavor to share well-researched options with all our students. If you want to know about a program and want us to help you apply for colleges, summer schools, and more, please do not hesitate to contact us.