I remember myself being scared and confused when I got out of school. I live in a society that has a certain criteria for choosing who is successful or who would be successul. That criteria is solely based on how a kid performs in school and in the entrance exams.

I was scared because I couldn’t do well in the entrance exams and this meant that I couldn’t go to colleges that, according to my society, would make me successful – the top engineering colleges of the country. I was confused because I didn’t know what’s next. I didn’t know that the life is much more than getting into a college. I didn’t know that there are a thousand other career options that my society and, as an extension, I don’t know about.

Recently, the school exam results were anounced and it’s a tradition in my society to put students’ faces and their absurdly high marks on the first page of the newspapers. And I really mean it when I say absurdly high marks. Yesterday I saw an advertisement released by a school to show off their students’ marks. There were about 10 students and all of them had something like 590/600 or maybe it was 490/500 but that’s not important. What’s alarming is that 590/600 is a lot of marks. It’s just too much. No one, other than a few exceptions, should get this many marks.

I think these marks are alarming because they do not give students a sense of the real world. We don’t get so many marks or any equivalent achievement in the real world. Getting 95% score on any real world problem is way too difficult than getting 95% in school. These astronomical numbers on their school marksheets make them think that they are really good and gives them an illusion of success. In reality, they are doing nothing more than memorizing a bunch of formulas or whatever they study. They are basically doing just that.

I can keep ranting for hours about why getting so many marks is bad but let’s focus on the other related problem of this pretentious, unknowledgable, and narrow-minded society. Let’s focus on what it considers to be the path of success. The path that I failed to get on.

Now that the students have these absurdly high marks on their marksheet, what’s next? Society says:

  • Go to IIT, NIT, AIIMS – the best engineering/medical colleges in the country.
  • Become a chartered accountant.
  • Become an IAS, IPS, or whatever that’s fancy in this field.

Now, at this stage the students also want the same. That’s because they have been brain-washed for their whole life. They have been told that these few things mean success and to get there they first need to score these absurd numbers in school. They are taught that it they can’t do well in school, they would be a failure for the society.

I was a failure. I couldn’t get into IIT or NIT. That’s what people thought. That’s what I thought. At that time I didn’t know that there are a thousand career options that I don’t know about and most of them are way better than what an average student from IIT or NIT ends up doing.

Back to those poor students, there’s one thing that’s common in all the advertisements I have seen in the past three days. That is, all the proud faces in those advertisements want to become something or the other from what is listed above. The worse part is that they believe they can do that, while in reality most of them can’t. Most of them have just memorized stuff and got marks and now they think they are better than those who have scored less.

To be continued…

It’s getting late. I’ll write a second part of this post on some other day. Today I got triggered because a guy came to my house with his father to ask for advice on colleges and stuff. Guess what, he got 98% in school and he wants to become an IAS officer. I don’t have words to describe how bad I feel about such kids and their parents.