Tag: Exams and Stress

Reality Check

Reality Check

Dr Rajan Bhonsle is a renowned counsellor and motivator.

Manoj Khatri: How should students deal with stress in the run up to the board results and after that?
Rajan Bhonsle: The root cause of stress is "expectations". Invariably all children know well enough, how they have performed in the exams. If they keep their expectations realistic and proportionate to their performance, there will not be any surprises. Very often, in spite of knowing about how they have written their papers, children lie to parents about their performance. This happens mainly due to fear of parental reaction. As results come closer, they are filled with fear and dread being exposed. While this is happening, deep down they know quite well what the result is likely to be. Fear of parental reaction comes out of the previous experiences with parents. If the parents have been reacting harshly, children tend to postpone revealing the truth. If children want to eliminate the stress, they should have a free and frank interaction with their parents, about how they have done their papers much before the results. This will help the entire family to have realistic expectations. And when one has realistic expectations, then one is not distressed at the time of results.

Manoj Khatri: How critical is the role of parents in helping students cope with their results?
Rajan Bhonsle: Parents’ role is crucial. Parental reaction to results matters the ‘most’ to all children. If the child has taken genuine efforts and studied to the best of his/her ability, that itself should satisfy the parents. And it is necessary for them to convey this to their child in no uncertain terms, that they are happy with his/her efforts, and that the result is not going to matter much. Even in those cases, where the parents are not happy with the efforts taken by their child, they need not wait to react till after the results. They can very prudently convey their observation to the child and make it clear that they are not expecting any surprises in the result. This will eliminate stress at the 11th hour.

Manoj Khatri: How should students react to obvious comparisons with their friends who have done better than them?
Rajan Bhonsle: Students need to learn to accept and appreciate that their friend/friends have done better in academics than them and remember that academic excellence is not everything. SSC exams probably test their memory, writing skills and their understanding of subjects such as science, maths, history, geography etc. However, there are many more aspects to one’s personality that are not tested during the SSC exams. One may have the ability of artistic and creative expression, sporting skills, athletic efficacy, physical stamina, business sense, leadership qualities, social skills, capacity to love, high emotional quotient, and competence in areas such as elocution, acting, music, poetry etc. Respecting and accepting that each individual is unique eliminates many interpersonal and intrapersonal problems. Feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, superiority / inferiority complexes are all a result of not acknowledging the fact that each person in endowed with uniquely different qualities. While respecting the academic ability of their friend, they should respect the unique ability and talent that they are gifted with and proceed with careers where they can prove their worth.

Manoj Khatri: What would be your advice to students who are disappointed with their performance and feel like it’s the end of all hopes for a bright career?
Rajan Bhonsle: There are innumerble career options for every child. If you keep your choice narrow, there are more chances of disappointment. If you give yourself a wide range of choices and options, there will not be any disappointments. In every profession/career there are successful people and unsuccessful people. It is not the career that determines your fate, but it is your well utilized talent, genuine efforts in the right direction, perseverance, and a realistic foresight that leads you to success in ‘any’ career.

Manoj Khatri: Finally, irrespective of their grades, what is the best way for students to go about selecting their career paths?
Rajan Bhonsle: Students should expose themselves to people from different careers, engaging in discussions with them to understand the realities of that particular career, the path required to establish oneself in that career, the financial involvement, the current scene regarding the career, the growth potential, the time frame to establish oneself in it, the estimated financial returns, lifestyle accompanying that career and other similar issues. Such discussions with people currently engaged in that career will give them a realistic view. Such endeavours could be undertaken by schools & social organizations, by inviting people from different professions for detailed interaction with students. If institutes do not undertake such ventures, parents can arrange for their child to meet up with different people for such interactions.

Reality check for Students

  • Have "realistic" expectations from your results.
  • Results in SSC exam tests only a small area of your whole personality. So don’t judge your worth with your marks.
  • Don’t compare yourself with anyone. You are ‘unique’.
  • Keep a wide range of career options open and don’t harp on only one choice.
  • Be frank with your parents.

Reality check for Parents

  • Love your child unconditionally for who he is and not by what he has scored in the exam.
  • Strictly avoid comparisons, as each child is ‘unique’.
  • Appreciate his/her efforts and not the outcome (results).
  • Acknowledge the other qualities & talents of your child and encourage them.
  • Create a safe family atmosphere of free & frank communication for your child.
  • Do not ‘impose’ any career option on your child.

Never Give Up

Never Give Up

On Saturday, over 170 SSC students from the city and a few of their parents heaved a sigh of relief after attending the seminar, "You and Your Results" organised by Lighthouse Foundation, a not-for-profit enterprise created to facilitate personal transformation. The event was supported by The Rotary Club of Thane. The purpose seminar, which was held at Sahyog Mandir, was to reach out to stressed-out SSC students and help them deal with their impending results in a mature and sensible manner.

The seminar began a two-minute video clip that captured the reactions of students before results. They were asked, "What if you fail?" and the responses were expected: "I’ll run away", "I’ll be really depressed" and "I’ll feel hurt inside".

This was followed by an audio-visual presentation by Manoj Khatri, principal founder of Lighthouse. He began by flashing the names of SSC board toppers from the past few years on the screen and asking the audience if they recognise them. Very few did. Then, names of famous individuals like Thomas Edison, Dhirubhai Ambani, George Washington, Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Bill Gates and many more famous individuals were shown. Everyone seemed to recognise them and their achievements. Yet very few knew that they had all left education half way, were elementary school drop-outs or had never had any formal education. But that did not stop them from achieving unparalleled success. The message was loud and clear: Doing well in academics does guarantee success just as doing poorly in academics does not guarantee failure.

Abraham Lincoln’s story created a visible impact on the audience as he was introduced as the man who failed the maximum number of times before going on to become the President of United States. When the audience was asked what the moral of the story was, almost all of them unanimously echoed, "Never Give Up."

The Chief Guest of the evening was Jalaj Dani, Vice-President of International Operation at Asian Paints. He gave examples of Indians who had left their secure jobs to pursue their dreams. Harsha Bhogle, Shankar Mahadevan and Kalpana Chawla featured in his presentation.

The third panellist was Dr. Rajan Bhosle, well known psychologist and student counsellor. His address was made of little stories that urged the students not to attach any judgement to the many occurrences in their lives. With the help of a wonderful Sufi fable, he convinced people that happenings are neither good nor bad – they are just happenings.

A question and answer session that followed saw many questions being asked. Here Dr. Bhosle’s expertise came to use. Being a practising counsellor, he has several years of experience dealing with similar questions and he fielded them admirably.

After the seminar, most students and parents who were interviewed said that they were no longer as anxious about the impending board results. In fact students were thrilled with the many stories they had heard of people who failed and yet rose to heights of success in their lives.

Some of the other key messages of the seminar were: Each one of you is special. Trust and accept yourself. Don’t compare your marks. And never give up.

Since results are about to be declared, we’d like to appeal to all SSC students reading this to remember that "you are not your marks". Do not identify your self worth with your marks. In case you get less-than-desired grades or even if you fail, just remember that you will get a million more opportunities for success. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists ever, had failed his entrance test Federal Swiss Polytechnic at the age of 16. Thankfully, he didn’t give up hopes, reappeared for the entrance test and cleared it. The rest is history.

Exam Adventure

Exam Adventure

Had it not been for the professional attitude and thoughtfulness on the part of Smt. Sulochanadevi Singhania School, the sudden call for Maharashtra Bandh, last week could have caused a lot of inconvenience to its students who fall under the ICSE board.

As you know, the State Boards announced the postponement of the SSC and HSC exams scheduled on March 1, 2002 – the day of Bandh. But the ICSE board exams do not come under the jurisdiction of state boards and they had to be conducted as scheduled.

Taking the situation as a challenge, the Singhania School staff, under the leadership of Pincipal Mrs. Vijayan Ravi, worked out a wonderful arrangement so that the 208 students of class X are not inconvenienced on such a crucial day.

A day before the exam, the School staff contacted every single student by the phone informing them about their plan. Though the exam was to begin at 2:30 in the afternoon, students were asked to assemble in the school campus early next morning, before the effect of the Bandh begins to show. Parents too were allowed to accompany their wards. More importantly, students who could not be contacted by phone were contacted in person by an official representative of the school. The school made sure that the message is conveyed to every student.

What really overwhelmed the parents and students was the thoughtful arrangement made by the staff to take care of basic necessities such as food, water etc. On a day when all shutters would be down, it certainly called for astute planning on the part of the school to make breakfast and lunch available to almost 500 people.

Most students can’t do without the last-minute-revision, so they were allowed to study anywhere they liked, as long as they were within the school campus. Before the exam, students were seen all throughout the school – the library, the garden, classrooms and even the playground.

"Just before the examination began, some students touched the feet of their teachers, in return for blessings – much like the days of Gurukul" said Tushar Pitale, a visibly impressed parent.

He said, "For most parents, this was a rare opportunity as they looked on, while students prayed, studied and ate together, regardless of their communities. They saw teachers performing Saraswati Puja, holding last-minute revision sessions and generally encouraging students to fare well in the exams. This was in sharp contrast with what was happening outside".

The day was peaceful and the exams were conducted smoothly. A couple of days later, the Principal received a bouquet made up of 208 roses, one for each student. It was presented to the School staff by the Parents-Teachers Association in appreciation of the excellent handling of a particularly difficult situation.

A Collective Prayer
On March 5, 2002, hundreds of people offered their prayers to Gajanan Maharaj, who was highly revered saint from Shegoan in Maharashtra.

The devotees were celebrating his Prakat Din (day of appearance) with a lot of vigour and enthusiasm. Devotees started flowing in as early as four in the morning and kept coming till late evening, all of them eager to catch a glimpse (darshan) of the saint’s idol.

It was impossible to ignore the long queues originating from the temple situated on the Ram Maruti Road. The ladies queue almost looked like a human chain as it extended right up to the ICICI bank, which is located a approximately 300 metres away from the temple.

This year, the prakat din followed, what can be called as one of the worst communal episodes of the country. Let’s hope that the collective prayers offered on this auspicious day will help in restoring communal harmony. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action."