#AshokaIsForAll: Crafting My Own Education at Ashoka University
Although Ashoka was relatively new at that time, I had the chance to speak with some of the alums who spoke highly of the University’s emphasis on research, academic pedagogy, and faculty, writes Tanya Chatterjee
I spent a significant part of my childhood in Pune. After emerging as one of the city toppers in the tenth grade, I decided to home-school myself in the 11th and 12th because I found myself constrained by the traditional Science/Commerce/Arts streams that were available to me. During those two years, I studied subjects from across the three streams and found myself most inclined towards Mathematics and Economics.
Like many others, I applied to multiple universities during my 12th grade and was fortunate to be accepted into several, including Ashoka University. Although Ashoka was relatively new at that time, I had the chance to speak with some of the alums who spoke highly of the University’s emphasis on research, academic pedagogy, and faculty.
Ashoka also offered financial support to those in need, which was crucial to me. Ultimately, I decided to accept my offer here. Without the financial aid, I would have had to take out a loan, the repayment of which would have constrained me from exploring and taking the professional risks I took in my undergraduate classes.
At Ashoka University, I chose Mathematics as my first major, not only because it was intellectually challenging but also because I appreciated the small class sizes that facilitated high levels of student-teacher interaction. The courses were demanding and required several hours of hard work each day. However, I found the material engaging and solving math problems greatly enriching. After three years, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Economics. In my Ashoka Scholars Programme (ASP) year at Ashoka, I am converting my minor into a second major in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) with a specialisation in Economics. I made this decision due to my growing interest in Policy and Government, which arose from internships as well as leadership positions in on-campus clubs. In this respect, Ashoka is quite unique as it provides you with the flexibility to add on additional majors and minors in forthcoming semesters as you discover your interests.
Over the last three years, I have had internships in various areas where I delved into the policy dimensions of healthcare, conducted research and analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility interventions in Education, developed a model of the wages of gig workers in China, and analysed problems in the financing of dairy farms in North India. This has allowed me to refine my inclinations over time. Ashoka has very supportive professors, and one of my recent projects, which I found quite exciting, came through a course I took in my 6th semester. It was Stanford University’s ‘Life Design Lab,’ being offered in Asia for the first time. I later became part of the instructor’s team responsible for scaling up this course in India. It was a great learning experience. Over the last few years, I have met many bright students who do not even consider applying to Ashoka due to its high costs. If nothing else, I have learned that high-quality education need not come with financial constraints. Ashoka provides significant aid to those in need of financial support and is open to increasing this support if necessary. I would advise anyone seeking an internationally competitive and rigorous education in India to apply, regardless of their finances.
(Written by Tanya Chatterjee, a student of the Ashoka Scholars Programme, class of 2024 at Ashoka University)