Students discuss how they turned their plan B into an A+ success
It’s that time of year where students who gave their Class 12 exams begin a round of firsts. First presentation, first honours projects. Most importantly, a first in choosing the academic stream that will determine the first phase of their higher studies and early careers.
Given the wide array of choices, picking a career — and a path that will lead you there — can be tricky.
Ishika Poojari, 18, for instance, never thought she would end up doing Arts. “Getting into the merchant navy was my dream. To work towards that, I took science in junior college, even though I was not interested in the stream,” she says.
As it turned out, physics-chemistry-maths proved too much for her. “I had only one day to make my decision of what course I would graduate in.”
She decided to switch tracks and pursue a course in advertising, and is now doing a one-year foundational arts course which will be followed by four years of applied arts. “Talking to someone who worked in advertising gave me direction and helped me decide how to proceed,” Poojari adds.
Not getting to pursue her initial plan, and having to take a u-turn, was chaotic. “I felt dejected at first, but I now feel good about the course I’m taking,” she says. “It also taught me to always, always have a Plan B in place. The focus on plan A and B should be almost equal. So that if one fails, you already have clarity on the other.”
In the case of Abhay Majhi, 17, switching tracks was a result of not really knowing what his strengths were. “I was extremely interested in history and mythology so I was very sure that I should major in History. But then I had a counselling session at St Stephen’s in Delhi, and the panel members said I should consider English Literature instead, given my command over the language. I was confused for some time. Then I spoke to seniors who had taken the subject. They recommended it over history too, due to its vast career scope.”
For Majhi, it was a lesson in balancing interest and passion with ability to shine. “Sometimes, you might be interested in a subject but your strength might be another subject that will give you a better career in the long-run,” he says. “And you can always study and pursue your passion on the side.”
What does it feel to toil for two years and finally get the course of their choice? Mrunmai Abhyankar, 18, from Pune, who wants to do software engineering, has managed to get herself on the first merit list. The list of colleges she is eligible for still has to be rolled out and then the counselling sessions will begin.
“In case I don’t get computer science, I will opt for electronic and telecommunication engineering,” she says. She began preparing for this in school. “My teachers were extremely helpful and while my friends spent days juggling between school and tutorial classes, I was able to focus on my future studies, with their help.”
Her tip for juniors: “Study for the future, rather than obsessing too much on each board exam.”
In general, pick courses in your early years that are broad-based and not too specific, says Kavita Mehta, co-founder of study-abroad education consultancy, The Red Pen. “You can keep narrowing down by doing specialisations later,” she says.
Do not get carried away by your peers’ opinions, adds education counsellor Karan Gupta. “I’ve seen many students choose a course because their friends enrolled in it. One has to be very clear about whether the courses you choose will be within your capacity to pursue and enjoy.”