The 12th std CBSE board results came out yesterday. For people who don’t know, they’re for a national test that high school final year students in India have to take to pass out of high school. Initially, your performance in the CBSE boards used to decide into what colleges you got admission. In recent years, its importance has waned with the advent of national entrance tests for pretty much every professional course. However, it still is the first truly big test that a student has to take and a very big deal in a high schooler’s life.
It is also, unfortunately, a matter of social pride (or shame) for the parents. Taking the tests that span over the entire month of April is hard enough for the kid, without his or her parents’ ego being attached to whether their child does better than Mrs Sharma’s kid.
What ensues is more anxiety and stress than any 18 yr old should ever have to face.
A common cause for concern is the pressure from parents to do well in the national board examinations, especially for Class XII, before finishing school. As scores in these exams often determine college admissions and subsequent employment opportunities, students aged 16-18 are often subjected to undue pressure at home to succeed. When they don’t, suicide becomes a way out. In 2013 alone, 2,471 suicides were attributed to “failure in examination”.
I did well in my board exams, but I had to face the failure of not getting through the medical entrance test. It’s the same kind of pressure, even more, amplified in Kota. Fours years on, let me tell you: it does not matter. Not a single person in the last four years has asked me my CBSE marks, or even my rank in the medical entrance test. The thing about the Indian education system is that it’s a great equaliser in a beautiful, fucked up way. Simply because of our population structure and size, there is intense competition to get in. But once you’re in a professional college, a topper and a passer are equally unequipped to deal with actual life. What matters is your work ethic and your good humour.
So, if you did well in your boards this year: Congratulations. Enjoy the moment. Just remember that you WILL NOT get these kinds of marks in professional college. Ever.
If you thought you did well when the results first came out but now too many relatives have asked you “Aga marka kuthe gele? Ajun ka nahi milale? (Why didn’t you get more?)”: Hang in there. You’ll be fine. Also, sometimes, if your parents think you could’ve done better, it’s because of their belief in your potential, not their disappointment in your reality.
If you haven’t done as well as you’d hoped: Calm down. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it’s not the end of the world. I know you don’t feel like facing their disappointed faces, their tears. I’ve been there. But please understand that there’s more to life than marks. Please understand that your parents understand that too. A failure is an amazing learning opportunity. Use it as such. If you’re worried about disappointing your parents, remember that a rash decision is going to sadden them a hundred times more than bad marks. Everyone in the world continues to disappoint their parents much beyond high school. And your parents will still love you after every let-down.
If you’re a parent with a child in any of the above categories: Please make sure that your child feels loved at this point. I know that as Indian parent, you have trouble with differentiating between negative reinforcement and punishment; your child is feeling like shit anyway, they don’t need more reasons to be stressed. Help them look at themselves and the future in a better, more productive light. Your child is old enough to go out in the big outside world, but not old enough to deal with it. I know that the last few years have been teenage hell for you, but your child is more like you than you or the child knows. Please, be a friend. Be a parent.
Nobody loses all the time.