“Namaste!?” I said.
When the reception desk connected me to Nandini, a student with 93 percent in her class XII board exams, I was expecting to hear the usual self-proclaimed voice of an achiever, in most cases expecting some special treatment, a standing ovation perhaps. Or definitely an exemption from the forbidding entrance exam.
With over 40,000 students in the country scoring above 90% in the year 2013, is it even a benchmark for competence or aptitude or is it simply skill? I often wonder – using keywords or key instances to max a 100% in psychology or 95% in English, sociology – is it even possible? Whatever happened to subjectivity, flow of arguments and innuendos in languages?
What is worrisome is that 100% being synonymous with perfection, absolute, ultimate excellence and complete – the student who is able to come close to this mark of perfection – can often begin to believe that she is indeed perfect. Add to that parents, relatives & teachers who make her believe that she is special. Well, here’s the thing, she is special, there is no doubt, but as parents and counselors, let us also give them the context. A reality check among a large number of students reveals that this aberration of class XII grades often results in students expecting similar grades in college, which is not possible. This can often hurt self-esteem and can damage self-image.
There is statistics that reveals the number of students who chose to study at various institutions across the country, across the world. But what about data on the number of students who dropped out of college in the first year itself? Such information is very substantial but obviously hushed. Among others, one of the prime reasons for students wanting to discontinue after the first year of study is a complete mismatch of competence, interest and the degree requirement. Surely, a number of engineering and law colleges will agree. This fallout number is also big in case of the social sciences, especially overseas. While Indian boards still promote learning by rote, world over, universities encourage application and arriving at practical solutions while learning. The rote learner will always find this a challenge.
Coming back to the student on the phone – Nandini with 93 percent. I said, “Hello” and she pleasantly surprised me with the ‘lost greeting’, “Namaste Ma’am” followed by her reason for calling. She was like a ray of hope. A balanced person, a good student, humbled by the prospect of being able to study an international program, she also became the deserving recipient of a part scholarship. I made it a point to inform her about the scholarship myself, just so I could hear her say – Namaste! once again.