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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Break work into small bits - Ask Our Counsellor Q&A Column

[The following column answered by me appeared in the Deccan Herald Education supplement dt. Jan 17, 2013]

Dear Madam,
I am a first year MBBS student. My problem is that I am not able to concentrate on studies. Earlier, I used to study well, but now, I seem to have lost my momentum. Kindly help me.

Nusrat Jahan

Dear Nusrat

You will need to tell me a little more about what you are feeling for me to really be able to help you. Why have you lost your momentum? Are you not interested in the subject any more? If this is the case, maybe it is too soon into the course for you to decide that, and you should take a call after some more time if this is something you want to continue with or not. Are you getting anxious about the results, or overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead? If you are getting anxious about the results, you need to focus on the learning and not worry about the marks.

Consider the worst possible outcome if you do not do as well as you would like, and assess whether it is something you can live with. In all probability, if you really think about it, it will be. If you are getting overwhelmed by the amount of work, break it up into small achievable goals, and remember to take stock of each goal as you achieve it, and celebrate its completion.

Sometimes on a tough journey, we need to keep looking back to see how far we have come, rather than look ahead and worry about how far we have to go. Another reason for you to lose momentum could be distractions from friends and romantic relationships. Like I said, I can’t really help you till I know the reason, but hopefully I have given you some pointers.

All the best

Dear Madam,

I am a class 12 CBSE student. I aspire to join IIT and now about 2 months are left for JEE mains. I have scored close to 70% in our school confidence exams and am very depressed because this is very low compared to my usual 90%. My JEE preparation seems to be bringing own my boards preparation. So, now I am confused whether to concentrate on JEE preparations or boards. Please help.


Dear Manjit

You have to aspire to really ‘learn’ what you are studying so that the knowledge stays with you. I cannot say which one you should focus on at the cost of the other. I think both have their own place. But if you want to do engineering, it is good to aspire to do it from the IITs, but it does not mean that if you do not get into IIT, you are a failure.

There are so many other good colleges that you can join. In fact, I know of several hiring managers who prefer engineers from the second rung of colleges because they believe they have more hunger for learning on the job and do not come in with an attitude. So aim for the best, but remember, that that is not the only option. Sometimes, keeping that in perspective, and realizing that that is not the only open door for you to pursue reduces and the stress and anxiety assoicated with the results.

Also, remember, the marks you get, either in the Boards, or in JEE, are no guarantor or success in life. Success in life depends on several other things - your self-esteeem, your belief in your self and your abilities, your ability to communicate, you ability to work in a team and lead a team, your ability to problem solve and think out of the box, etc. etc. Yes, exams and marks are important, but the only role they play is to open some doors. If you don’t have them, you can always try opening other doors. Hope that helps.

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