“What Next?” – Students’ Post-Boards Challenges and Choices
At this time of the year, hundreds of students across Goa are wrapped up in those most daunting of school-life challenges – the Std 10 and 12 Board Examinations. Soon they will move to another equally daunting phase, of further challenges and several choices, as they traverse the long path to a career
As the stressful period of study draws to a close, students will soon be facing major choices –choosing a stream in Higher Secondary School for the fresh-out-of-school bunch (the arts/commerce/science conundrum), and a degree, college, and career, for those done with Std 12. As they work on life-shaping decisions, there are many factors in play; such as parents’, peers’ and teachers’ inputs (sometimes clashing with their own interests), a wide range of choices, and even scarier exams that would determine their getting seats in college – negotiating these factors is a challenge every student inevitably faces.
Parents seem to play a pretty big role in the 10th to 12th jump – helping kids decide on a stream, and often pushing them into the one they deem suitable (usually science!). Teachers, both old and new, are full of advice regarding their students’ next step. But while several students end up pretty comfortable, there is always that unfortunate lot, who find themselves at a loss in the stream they may (or may not) have been pushed into – making a mid-year switch from one to another is quite common, while some choose to pursue degrees outside of the streams they studied in. Once Std 12 is done and dusted, the choices get wider, the stakes are higher, the competition gets tougher, and the pressure is immense! Students have to decide between professional and non-professional courses, between various degrees (BA, BCom, BSc etc), between core subjects (majors, if you will), and increasingly for many, between staying in Goa,and leaving. Parental pressure continues to feature (especially when it comes to pushing kids into the usual “medicine-or-engineering-only” rut); but most often, nowadays, the onus is on the student, with parents allowing kids to make their own way. “They gave me full freedom to do what I thought was best for me,” said Jacob, when asked about his parents’ view about his decision to do his BA, despite studying science. In this case however, the pressure on the student is somehow even more.In doing research (if they’re the type), students are inundated with tons of information about colleges and courses, leaving them dazed! Advertisements, brochures, and hundreds of online sites abound. Those attempting to get into professional courses have infamously hard-to-crack entrance tests to contend with – NEET, GCET, JEE and all manner of scary-sounding abbreviations. But there are also those who fall into college pretty coolly, simply going to one closest to home or affiliated to their schools. When it comes to these decisions there is no set path… every student will carve their own. Attending a college out-of-state is a big choice students are faced with – not only does it involve toiling to get into hard-to-get-into colleges, facing tests and interviews; it also involves leaving home for a completely different environment – both living and academic. Many choose to stay (sometimes postponing migration to later); but there are several, especially nowadays, who are studying across the country, in Mumbai, Bangalore, and elsewhere. Their decisions to leave often involve much forward-thinking; when asked why she chose to pursue higher education in another city, Gabrielle said that she “chose to leave Goa to broaden horizons, for independence, and to challenge (herself)”. Many kids are often confused about what to do – unsure where their skills or interests lie, or what would help them get a job. Advice from others aside, they sometimes rely on aptitude tests… with rather varying results. While some find it useful, like Desmona who said “I already knew my strengths, I just needed to know my options”; others feel quite the opposite, like Shannen who did one because he didn’t know what to do, but ended up doing something different from what the test results indicated. When it comes to aptitude tests it appears there’s no sure outcome… the student will end up doing whatever they please. In the end, despite all the ups and downs, students come through relatively unscathed. (There are those who end up dissatisfied with their courses and are faced with further decisions, but that’s another story!) For now what we, as parents, peers and general support systems, have to give them is support and space. The stressful “what next?” phase will come to an end… until, of course, next year comes around and it starts all over again!
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