Apurva Gautam used to score around 55-65% in school exams. With a 65% in Class 12 from a government school, she enrolled for her bachelor’s in social work at Delhi University’s Aditi Mahavidyalaya, a women’s college in Bawana (north-west Delhi) catering primarily to students from a rural background. Gautam, however, was in for a shock. She stumbled in her first-year university exams.
After the initial jolt, however, she decided to not wallow in negativity and instead determinedly pursue success like some of her seniors in college. Many of them had gone on to join institutes like the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, said to be the best for social work in India.
“I saw my friends move ahead. I wanted to be at par with or ahead of them,” says Gautam. “Whatever happened was in the past. I took that (not clearing the first-year exam) as a challenge.” She repeated first year, passing with 57% and doing second year with 59%.
Experience taught Gautam to tide over a crisis and emerge stronger. In school she struggled with math, averaging 50-60%. In Class 10, “practising all the time,” she managed a very commendable 80%.
Practice indeed works, as do other interventions.
The improvement happened due to her parents and teachers, she says. “They (teachers) supported me in all aspects of studies. We have good bonding with our faculty,” Gautam adds.
The 22-year-old has now managed to clear the entrance exam at the very prestigious TISS and is also now awaiting her final-year university exam results.
It takes courage to battle adversity Manmeet (name changed on request) was, and is, a bright boy. With an all-India Joint Entrance Examination rank in the 600s, he got into a BTech programme in one of the top-ranked Indian Institutes of Technology.
“Initially, it was good. I was happy to be a part of such a renowned institution,” says Manmeet. Things, however, changed and he was unable to clear his first-year exams.
“He would think he knew everything when he actually didn’t. He would be depressed some times and hyper at others,” says a teacher, then his advisor at the institute (who, too, requested anonymity). Manmeet was diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, but, like Gautam, he decided to fight it out.
“We tried to counsel him. We spent time with his family. We were assuring his family and asked them not to push him,” says Manmeet’s former faculty-advisor.
The young man underwent treatment at a hospital. His family was with him all through.
Manmeet says he was under treatment for four-five years. After a break from studies, he returned and cleared his final degree exams with a high CGPA of 7. Ask him about that period and he says, “I don’t dig into it.”
What seems to have made the difference in his turnaround is timely medical help, “tremendous” family support, as well as a considerate faculty. The faculty-advisor was closely involved in mentoring him, says another teacher from the same department. “(My faculty-advisor) helped me a lot. They (institute officials) helped me a lot,” says Manmeet, today a consultant with a multinational company in the NCR.
A little intervention can indeed put a student back on his feet.
Shift focus, think success
. Determination counts the most. As Manmeet (name changed), a young engineer who overcame a psychiatric condition, says, “I don’t think there’s anybody who has had no problems (in life). Someday he’ll be fine. The situation will change.”
. Supportive faculty and parents are a safety net for a low-scorer
. Be aware of even a hint of overconfidence
. Choose your course carefully. There are instances of students flunking exams in one study programme and topping their class after shifting to another. Don’t succumb to peer pressure. Instead, consider your interest and aptitude
What makes an Achiever
Right course: You do well at things you like. So, the key is to find the right course
Teacher matters: A good teacher can change your life. With his/her skill and tact, s/he can catalyse a complete makeover
Family support: An assuring family is an anchor and a launch pad for success.
Planning and hard work: Identify your priorities. Make realistic goals, plans and schedules. “You need very regular, systematic planning, not just for one week or the last four months of the academic year. It has to be a part of life,” says Etishree Bhati, clinical psychologist (counsellor), DPS RK Puram.
Study skills: Learn how to make notes, manage time, improve focus and retention and how to take exams. Take the help of a counsellor, book or online resources. The following resources may help:
. www.dartmouth. edu/~acskills/success/study.html
. bsc.harvard.edu/ index.html
. www.open.ac.uk/ skillsforstudy/
. www.cusu.cam.ac. uk/academic/studyskills/