Today in New Delhi, India
Jun 26, 2019-Wednesday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Scared of the monster called cut-off list?

It’s the deadliest of all — one that’s giving sleepless nights to college applicants

columns Updated: Jun 23, 2018 17:38 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times
A Calmer You,A Calmer You by Sonal Kalra,Sonal Kalra
Cut-off list are the number one stress point right now for lakhs of students who are spending sleepless nights fearing you’d come in the way of them getting admission into a college

My dear list, I am not sure if I need to ask if you are doing well because we all know how high you stay most of the time. I’ve always wanted to ask you how it feels to have a name like ‘cut-off.’ Because, in us humans, we have names that tend to have positive meanings, not ones that bring in violent imagery in the head. Though it may be interesting for some to be named such, like Terminator Chaddha, but let’s not take away your uniqueness. Am sure you are aware of, and enjoy being in the news headlines these days. Who doesn’t want their very mention to create ripples? But do you know that most of us deeply dislike you for the immense stress you have been giving us over the years? You are the number one stress point right now for lakhs of students who are spending sleepless nights fearing you’d come in the way of them getting admission into a college. You won’t like it, but today, I’m going to tell those students, and their equally anxious parents, to not give too much importance to you. I know your ego will be hurt but then you stay so high, you can manage it! So here’s the deal.

1) There was life before you, and there is life beyond you: The parents who are today on the edge of their seats, while their children ride the roller coaster of college admission process, would remember that there used to be no dreaded cut-off lists during their time. But there was still fierce competition… the world was still called cut-throat… and that all of them still managed to do something fairly good with their lives. Those parents today have the opportunity to give the best gift ever to their children — the faith that no matter how many admission lists don’t carry their name, something good is ultimately written in their destiny. It’s just a little far for them to see it right now and feel reassured. As I keep reminding, God has a plan for each one of us, and sometimes that’s all we need to know.

Read | A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: No plastic would be fantastic

2) Disappointments are temporary: All of them. I know of a couple who was apparently very disappointed when their son didn’t get admission in class nursery in the school they thought was the best. ‘Ek baar yeh ho jaata toh life set thi,’ is what his dad told my father at that time. Anyhow, the child got through in another school where he excelled in studies all through and got 91% in class XII board exams, 14 years later. ‘Bure nahi hain, but these days students are getting 95-96%’ is what his evidently disappointed mom said, when the result was announced. The boy studied like a maniac for engineering entrance but couldn’t clear the IIT exam. ‘Ek baar yeh ho jaata toh life set thi’, repeated the dad, after 15 years of uttering the same sentence. Anyhow, after doing engineering in a regional college and a couple of years of job hopping, the boy was recently hired by an IT giant that offered him a record-high salary package. ‘So, how is it going?’ I asked his beaming dad the other day. ‘Ekdum badiya. Life set hai,’ he replied. I wish he knew that life was set the day his son was born. Disappointments don’t stay for long. The way we feel about them today is not how we will feel about them a few years later. So, why let them bog us down?

Read | A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Away from home? Don’t be sad

3) Success is never about the college… it’s about the person: It’s not really needed for a research to say this but since some people believe a statement only when ‘scientific studies show’ precedes it, let me inform you that scientific studies the world over have shown that there’s no correlation between which college a person studied in and his/her ultimate success in the career. And right now, I’m sticking to success, not even saying happiness, because there’s no correlation between these two either. When one reads about a student of IIT or AIIMS committing suicide because of depression, or highly ‘successful’ CEOs dying of stress induced cardiac arrests at the age of 40, you begin to wonder if we even know what we are aiming to achieve by being in this mad race of competition. Success doesn’t come from the name of the college written on your degree. Heck, if I’m not wrong, the college’s name is not even mentioned on the degree issued by a university. Success comes from how meaningfully you are utilising the knowledge gained from the classes you attended, no matter in whichever college building. At the end of the day, buildings are all that colleges are. Your success, and ultimately happiness, can only come from within you. Coming back to you my dear dreaded list, the walls on which you are so vainly stuck may differ from one college building to another, but the temporariness of your relevance remains unchanged. No matter how many colleges reject admission to a student because of you, he would remain the person that he was. You can make him anxious and take away his sleep for a night or two, but you can’t take away his destiny if he chooses to be successful and happy. That’s the permanence of our victory over you. Now get off our backs, please!

Sonal Kalra changed three colleges in the first three months of taking admission. It only means three different Whatsapp alumni groups! Mail her at, Follow on Twitter @Sonal Kalra

On reader demand, this is a re-run of a column published previously.

First Published: Jun 23, 2018 17:38 IST