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The pressure of being a straight A student

A 20-something college student jots down the challenges faced by good academic performers

A lot is expected of students. From straight As to good oratory skills, from being on top of things to making ends meet with limited pocket money. Furthermore, young women students face another challenge; the task of being “perfect.” Every household decides their definition of perfect. For me, it is being neatly dressed in an ironed kurti with hair divided into three precise parts and pleated with precision. It is expected of me to know how to make “round” chapatis and the right amount of chini to mix in everyone’s cup of 5 'o clock tea. And in the middle of the daily schedule, I somehow juggle the balance sheet of academic pressure.

There are several aspects of being a so-called, “topper.” The biggest is the expectation you have of yourself. Undoubtedly, the fear of failure has kept me awake at numerous nights. I would fall in a dry spell of sleep while revising trade laws. Sometimes, anxiety would get the better of me and I would wake up in the middle of the night, open the books and drown in the sea of numbers.

 

 

Another set of expectation is from teachers, who find recognition when their students excel. Their appreciation motivates me. But with the praise comes responsibilities such as always coming on time, maintaining neat and clean notebooks (because peers need a photo copy before the exam) and keeping abreast with what’s taught in the class.

The sooner the exam date, the larger the pressure to learn, re-learns, revise and re-revise the syllabus for maximum retention. Food, sleep and comfort are orderly packed in a bag that is locked in the Bank of an Ideal World. I’ve had spells of fainting the night before the exam, and eye pain because of constant stress.

Come the exam day, and for three hours, you see no left, you see no right, and you see no above. You only see to it that you’ve answered each question, correctly. Because there isn’t room for making mistakes when you’ve scored full marks in the smaller exams throughout the year. The day of the results, which many students dread, is one of the most wonderful days of my life. Seeing my parents happy, and the positivity around, motivates me to outperform myself each time.

One important thing that I've learnt from this experience is that your parents will always support you, come what may. On those nights when I could not sleep, my mother was awake with me. On those days when I was discouraged, my father would take me out for ice-cream and some motivating words. 

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NEXT STORY


Getting ahead and the Art of School Politics

Has school politics affected your academic performance at school? Read on as a teenager shares her experience of dealing with favouritism and mind games during her school days.

What do we think of when we hear the word 'politics'? Indian Parliament? Elections? Tricks? Ruthlessness? Well yes…for most of us. It was the same for me until I became a well-known teen of my school. Let me introduce you, teenagers, with a term you won’t actually know but will surely relate to - 'School Politics' (TAADDAA).

I would like to start with something we all have seen or noticed. Every teacher in your school has this one student or a group of students they really adore. And those students (undoubtedly) always get good grades in their adorer's subject. This, my friends is the first glimpse of school politics.

Worthy but not selected

This brings me to my next point : The Biased System. Sometimes in your school life, you get opportunities that you believe are yours but you're not given the window to catch them. It's true, it's common, and happens with everyone once in a while. Something, I faced too.

My school took part in a National MUN conference scheduled to happen in Delhi. For selections, a mock MUN was organized. I was selected as one of six best delegates. But, was I taken to Delhi? Sadly, no.

I was deeply disappointed. I had worked hard for it, and should have probably been selected to represent the school. Sadly, students close to the teacher got a chance to attend the conference. After this experience, I told myself to not feel low, and consoled myself to think of it as a small incident. Unfortunately, such events can affect a student’s drive to excel at school activities, including academics.  

The perfect prefects

Another aspect that needs attention is the appointment of school prefects: the Head Boy and the Head Girl. I don’t understand the reason for separating a few from the lot. Their core responsibility is to administer the other students. Often, the prefect body has certain privileges that the other students do not have such. They wear differently coloured uniforms and can punish students if they think their behavior is violating pre-defined school rules. They also, often, end up using the power to their advantage by favouring their friends.  Like I mentioned earlier, this leads to fights, rivalry, even suspension of certain students.

Is it good or bad?

While school inculcated several good qualities in me and helped me develop into a stronger individual, it also gave me an insight into the working of politics at play. In my observation, favouritism and school politics can demotivate and deter some worthy students who have the potential to excel. 

But, on the other hand, I question, if this experience is preparing us for real world politics. Hence, should we become part of the system or try and stay away from it. And, should we think of trying to change it all?

 

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