July 28, 2021
On a slow-paced Sunday, I was searching for a document on one of the shelves at home. Amidst a lot of things present, one book, in particular, caught my attention. It had gathered dust, which I cleared off. As I started skipping through the pages, it took me twenty years down my memory lane. That book had all the golden memories from college days frozen in the form of rare and unforgettable photographs. My classmates, some seniors, few juniors, respected teachers, and many others were there. Only I wish, I could travel back in time...! You can guess the book that catalyzed me cherishing sweet memories was the college magazine. I am sure many of us have such wonderful refreshing memories of that bygone era of time.
‘Student life is golden life’; one would realize the essence of this saying in the latter part of life while recapturing the sweet memories of the days spent during school days. But one thing is sure, the exposures and experiences a student gains during the studies could be channelized for a successful future. It all depends upon how a person makes the best use of his/her student life.
Extracurricular activities enhance the EQ
Every person is born with one or the other talent; it may be in sports, painting, writing, acting, singing, dancing, and any other activities. Suitable platforms are very much essential to flourish talents during childhood and teenage. Of course, the primary goal of students is to focus on their studies and complete their education with flying colors. But in addition to securing an academic qualification, what else a student gained is equally important for future ventures. Along with acquiring knowledge through studies, active participation in extracurricular activities would become a value-addition for a student to build a bright career. And, it helps in enhancing emotional intelligence/quotient (EQ), the ability of a person to understand, use, and manage his/her own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and conflict.
Pic courtesy: Dr Shyama Prasad Sajankila
College magazine and its specialties
There are many students gifted with good writing skills but are in need of a suitable platform to prosper it. Certainly, college magazines would be the right platform for such students to initiate the literary journey exploring their innovative thoughts. A student may like to present creative ideas in the form of poetry, short narrative, essay, humour, fiction, puzzles, or cartoons. Similarly, a student may be interested in publishing interviews of eminent personalities, book reviews, critics, and translations. An advantage for students to make use of college magazines for their debut in literature is that there is no language barrier. A student has the freedom to write depending upon his/her command over a language. So much so, magazines published by many colleges in India encompass articles in state, national and English languages. It is appreciated that in some educational institutions, students are also encouraged to write even in regional/local languages such as Tulu, Konkani, Kodava, Urdu, Byari, Kodava, and even in the dialect of a national language such as Kundakannada, Arebhashe, Badagu, Sholaga, Urali, Holiya, and many others. Students inclined to painting, cartoon, pencil sketch and photography can also exhibit their talents in the magazine.
Role of teachers
Basically, a college magazine is meant for students to portray their interests in literary works. In the meantime, the role of teachers is also very imperative to bring out a good magazine. And of course, interested teachers also contribute articles to be published in the magazine. The main role of teachers, however, is to encourage and guide the students who desire to nurture their writing skills. Usually, the responsibility of the editorial board is taken up by the teachers and some of the senior students who have a zeal for literary work. It helps some students get exposure to journalism. It is also the responsibility of the editorial committee to see that no student is indulged in plagiarism. If such things are entertained, college magazines lose their purpose and values. In this regard, teachers have great accountability to identify and encourage the creativity, original thinking, and presentation skills of the students.
Many other features of a college magazine
Some pages in the magazine may also be reserved for former students to share their experiences or sweet memories that can motivate current students. The magazine also serves as a yearly document comprising of photographs with captions of various events that occurred in the college such as students’ union inauguration, cultural events, NSS and NCC activities, the annual day celebration, athletic meet, visit of dignitaries, conferences, seminars, events hosted, and many other memorable incidents. A college might have accomplished many achievements such as securing ranks, winning medals, bagging championships, representing the university at state / national/ international level competitions, and many other such pride moments. College magazine provides a space to present them all in terms of photographs and newspaper clippings. The magazine also serves as a suitable medium to give due respect /credit to persons who are involved in the development of colleges; it may be correspondent, college betterment committee president, members, superannuated staff, and others by publishing their messages and/or photographs. The magazine circulated among public, private and institutional libraries will serve as the college portal reporting the annual events.
The creative task for a unique title
The title is the main feature of any book and is more applicable to college magazines. Usually, a catchy title for a college magazine is created or chosen by conducting competitions for students or based on local cultural heritage or any other criteria. The title that has been chosen for a magazine remains permanent as long as a college continues to publish the magazines. Therefore, choosing a good title is a creative task for college administration, teachers, and students. A single-word title may be subtitled giving glimpses of the magazine.
Many people preserve college magazines and feel proud to show them to others and even to their children and remember the good old days. For them, it is an antique piece. As a popular saying ‘Experiences are not sweet, but their memories', turning pages of college magazine after many years of college life would give a delightful experience. A student whose name or photograph got published for authorship or achievement in the college magazine, for him or her that magazine will be a strong testimonial for the career.
In many schools and colleges, visitors get attracted to a notice board displayed with paintings, cartoons, compositions, and poems. No doubt, wall magazines are also an effective medium to encourage students’ talents. However, it has a limitation; unlike magazines, it cannot be preserved as a document since there is regular replacement of displays with new ones. Nevertheless, all/selected displayed works on the wall magazine can be collected and brought out in the form of a magazine during the end of the academic year. Some colleges which cannot afford to produce magazines may financially be supported by the Government or Management/College Betterment Committee since it serves as a document witnessing the overall progress of a college over the years.
Educative articles and social responsibilities
Every individual has a social responsibility and there are many avenues to contribute to society. An effective way by which one can serve society is by publishing educative articles in print / electronic media on various contemporary issues, which may be the environment, economics, conservation, law, new discoveries/inventions, health, politics, education, philosophy, folklore, technology, nature, awareness against superstition, so on and so forth. Students who utilized the college magazine to blossom their writing skills during their studies are more confident to publish their articles in highly circulated print/electronic media. There is also scope to become a good blogger. Thus, the confidence and expertise gained during students' life can be encashed in future life.
Awarding the prizes for encouragement
There are some universities that motivate the affiliated and constituent colleges by awarding prizes to the best college magazines every academic year. Participation in a sportive spirit enables colleges to produce high-quality magazines. The magazines are evaluated based on the quality of the articles, variety, outlook, design, layout, print quality, and other criteria. One of the best practices that Mangalore University has been following for the last several years is recognizing its affiliated colleges by awarding prizes for magazines in different categories. It is worth quoting here a statement of a well-known writer in Kannada and Malayalam, Dr Parvathi G Aithal while addressing in an award-winning ceremony “I still remember my first article got published in the college magazine during my studies and is a memorable event that inspired me to publish many articles and books during the later part of my life. It is all because of the college magazine that laid a strong foundation for my literary work."
Scope for eMagazine
The traditional way of bringing out a magazine, i.e., in printed version, has its own advantages. Yet, in the modern era of well-advanced communication technologies, the current generation has almost switched over to digital versions of reading and learning with the aid of smartphones and laptops. In this context, there is also scope for college magazines to be brought out in the form eMagazine. Some colleges have already initiated it. The digital version of the book has some advantages; most importantly, it is economically more viable. Further, it is an eco-friendly approach, as it saves so much paper, which in turn helps in conserving many trees. With the smartphone and personal computer, today the digital version of the magazine is accessible to more people at their fingertips.
Magazines at school level
If it is mentioned, ‘college magazine’, it does not mean that only colleges have the opening to bring out magazines. Even at the school level (primary and high-schools), there is a scope for bringing out magazines and motivating pupils to develop writing skills during their childhood itself. Schools that have already taken an active involvement in producing magazines and encouraging the children deserve appreciation. In fact, the concept of the magazine in educational institutions got initiated in a school only; way back in 1916, it was the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities published the first issue of 'The School Magazine' with the subtitle 'A Magazine of Literature for Our Boys and Girls'. Many then children who got inspired and encouraged through this magazine later became renowned authors and bagged national and international literary awards. Some of such great authors include Joanne Horniman, Ursula Dubosarsky. The magazine has played and continues to play a role in fostering new talents in writing.
Thus, an annual magazine brought out from an educational institution offer multi-dimensional advantages; it serves as an excellent platform for students to showcase their literary talents, documentation of curricular and extracurricular activities. In the present era of information technology and social media, there is also scope for eMagazine. A permanent collection of magazines in educational institutions would be a historical record not only for the present but also for future generations.