The Rat Race

It’s 6am. You wake up to the sound of your alarm blaring, wishing for just one more moment of sleep. But you know you have to get ready for the day ahead – coffee, heavy books and long hours of classes.

It’s been ingrained into your mind that the competitive exams you’re to give will make or break your future. You’ve heard of all the stories of the esteemed students cracking JEE and NEET and getting the college of their dreams.

However, as the number of students participating in these exams increases every year – so does the competition. When the number goes up to 10 lakh, it makes you wonder – are these exams really effective? Or is it just a rat race? Every year so many spend a massive amount into coaching institutes where they take admissions in masses but often focus only on the top students.

It is now a well known fact that these education hubs have many incidents of student suicides, but not much is done about it. Afraid that they may not make the cut and meet societal and family expectations, the stress of it all ends up taking kids’ lives. They should be taught how to take care of their mental health instead of spending sleepless nights revising for an exam. The hype given to these competitive exams have caused many to be forced to pursue it – even if they don’t have interest in the field.  So they give up their passion in hopes of succeeding and gaining the admiration of those around them.

Students spend years studying for a single exam which determines where they spend the next few years of their lives and the track of their future career. But if it doesn’t go well, taking a drop and repeating the process is often the only option. The pressure of it all has led many into depression and the situation with Covid-19 makes it worse.

The topics that they test to assign admissions are often never used in their careers. For instance, someone studying a technical subject like Computer Science is probably never going to need organic chemistry – a topic which they might’ve spent hours learning daily. None of these screening tests consider non-technical problem solving skills or other aptitudes.

What’s worse is that after endless efforts put in, the reservation system can be a hindrance to getting the college students deserve. The cut-off differences are significant and those without reservations are at a considerable disadvantage. The exams lose effectiveness and the resulting outcome is generally unfair.

The Indian education system has many flaws. With such a large population, it is hard to determine a better way to find potential without such high-stakes competitions. However, the tests should be more skill-oriented and based on critical thinking. Instead of putting pressure on students to learn theory, a more practical approach could be taken. It would be better if reservations were kept only for disabilities and financial aid. Furthermore, taxes, investment and financial literacy should also be taught as those skills would be beneficial in the future.

The focus should be put on learning and a healthy competition instead of a pressuring rat race. We need to change the education system for future generations to cope with the rapidly changing world.