By: Menahel Ayyaz Khan
Time and tide are not in today’s generation’s favor. In this fast-paced world where nearly every millennial is a tech savvy, rat-racing his/her way through to achieve whatever goals he/she may have set for him/herself, there is a growing anxiety and sense of being lost. If we narrow this anxiety and confusion down to the life at LUMS, we will unfortunately find nearly the entire student body trying to muscle their way to a high GPA. But not all amongst us are aiming for that. Some are just struggling every day to get by, to get just enough of that excruciatingly difficult GPA to stay enrolled in the program. For some of us, saving ourselves from that mentally torturous probation is the prime and only goal.
On my search to find a suitable source for this piece, I came across someone who was still in the process. Usually, we hear the stories of people who seemingly faced the worst, who took everything that life threw at them and turned it into the biggest success stories. We have seen quite a few of these examples on the LUMS Discussion Forum. However, seldom do we find people who are courageous enough to tell their not-so-success stories while they are still in the process. I found one such brave person on campus, who does not claim to have bounced back from her probation and its aftermath yet, but wants the campus community to know her story so that those who are still struggling to get by, to stay afloat, can take some comfort in her words.
Yashfah Sualeh is a sophomore from Multan, currently enrolled in the Mushtaq Ahmed Ghurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Coming from Multan and matric/F.Sc background, she narrates “I felt like I was two steps behind my peers who had the advantage of being from the Cambridge system and/or belonged to bigger cities”. Sualeh felt like the “monotonous” and “robotic” curriculum of the Board system naturally stunted her critical thinking and kept her from getting acquainted with many co-curricular opportunities.
“I don’t intend on demeaning any system or putting down my peers from various backgrounds. I’m just saying that the environment I had may not have had all the opportunities that many of my fellows at LUMS did. It made me doubt my skills and pushed me towards being under confident about my academic abilities.”
In addition to this, Sualeh claims to have experienced the biggest “culture shock” when she stepped into the diverse community of the university.
“As a result, I became insomniac. I felt like I was losing not only my sleep and peace of mind. I was losing myself too. I felt lost.” Consequently, Sualeh ended up with a 1.7 GPA in her first semester.
On asking how she bounced back, Sualeh’s reply was “To be honest, I still do not know where to go from here. All I know is I desperately held on to optimism and pushed myself to maximum hard work while taking important care of myself. In the second semester, I had a 2.8. It may not seem like that great an achievement, but honestly, I pat myself on the back whenever I think about the dark place I was in after my first GPA and the struggles of fitting into the “LUMS bubble””.
“Oh, and ASMR and chalk crushing videos definitely help”, she added with an embarrassed laugh, “I don’t know. Watching chalk getting crushed satisfied something inside me. I felt like I was crushing my inner fears and insecurities. I don’t know. We all have our guilty pleasures.”
While, telling her story, Sualeh also pointed out that the lack of instructor accountability plays an immense role in not only stunting the future prospects for a student here on campus, but also takes a toll at their mental health. She revealed that a certain instructor of one of her courses made the Teaching Assistants (TAs) check their midterm and final exams, an illegal act according to the university code of ethics. Since the TAs were not well acquainted with the marking scheme, she ended up getting an F on that course, even though she did her utmost to perform well in it.
The questions to ask here are: why such lack of instructor accountability is constantly neglected on the administrations’ part? Why, despite the apparent efforts of the Orientation Week, students fail to feel at home on campus? Is it even worth grilling oneself for such an exceedingly difficult curriculum, where the direct victim is mental health? Sualeh managed to stay afloat, but she is still uncertain about her future. Additionally, we cannot ignore all those who are not able to cope under such extreme stress and fall prey to whatever results and repercussions probation may have.