I am sure every one of us would have heard stories from our grandparents about how they had to struggle to reach schools and colleges to gain the little education that they did. In those days almost always the educational institutions were far off and tough to access. I have heard that my grand father used to swim across a little brook to save money of the bus ride – to study at school. This I am sure was not an exception in those days. It was very much the norm. People used to travel great distances with difficulty to gain knowledge. In the era of no electricity, the time left to imbibe, read or do homework was too little. Did this stop them from gaining the education or going on to become successful? Were they happy or dis-contended towards the end of their lives?
We somehow seem to have come a full circle. In today’s world it is not uncommon to see a college student spend about four hours a day travelling. When I handed out a bunch of readings during one my recent sessions at a B-School, I was surprised to hear from many students that the reading seemed a bit too much for one evening. It was over the tea break that I understood their actual difficulty. They were spending as much time on the road as they were spending at the institution trying to study, I decided to do the bus journey myself for a day to figure out if this was a reason or an excuse. Just one day was enough to understand why commuting takes away much more beyond the time spent travelling. If one day can be back breaking and tiring, I wonder what it will be like to do this four to six hours bus rides every day.
While it then seems valid to not expect a student to consume a large amount of literature over the week, it definitely does raise the question on whether studying this way will result in any form of knowledge at all. While the same problems do exists for people working these days, the resultant downside on students seems way higher. Isn’t it better to board on campus than spend more money (in form of time, energy and cash) being a day scholar? Going residential could also mean being more environmental conscious than the 1000 of bus rides for completing the course. Commuting is truly becoming a challenge to learning and this requires serious attention and action. Innovative solution in this space is much needed and could make a larger difference to the society at large!