In an education system based on rote learning, the goal is rarely to seek knowledge. It is to earn highest marks/grades possible, so that one scores admission in a top-class college, and eventually bags a swanky job. What does any parent want, in this country, more than to see his or her child score A+ grade, or topmost rank? But as psychologist Adam Grant pointed out in his essay for The New York Times, academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence.
- All parents in this country, want their child to score A+ grade, or topmost ranks.
- Top grades and good placements cannot necessarily ensure a great career graph.
- Career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem. It’s more about finding the right problem to solve.
- Disinterest in what one has been forced or manipulated into doing, sooner or later catches.
Does a student’s struggle end after securing an admission in a prestigious college? Or does our career culminate at merely scoring the biggest package in campus selection? Life and career, actually just begin somewhere after you take your first-year college exams and you settle down in your first job.
Students’ academic journey may equip them to find success in coming thus far. But what after that? Do their A+ grades and top ranks ensure a prosperous career?
According to a 2016 study, published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 37.7%, 13.1%, and 2.4% of the students were suffering from moderate, severe, and extremely severe depression in Indian Universities. The pressure to obtain highest marks and the anxiety over future prospects often costs students their mental peace. Parents need to ponder over whether all this stress and anxiety is worth enduring so early in life. All for merely A grades and better packages. Besides, is there any guarantee that students proficient in academics will have a prosperous career?
Often we run into an old school and college friends on social media, and their career graph comes across as a shock. A high-flying topper from school is slogging at an MNC. However, the average kid who was neither the backbencher, nor the campus star, is doing something pathbreaking or ridiculously cool. Something which you would rather do, than your “successful” job.
So what did these people get right? Perhaps, they took their interests and overall development more seriously than their grades.
Grant says, career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve. Take choosing subjects after your tenth board, for example. Most students make this choice based on whatever subject they scored great marks in. Or whatever subject seems to promise the most career opportunities. Not many select their subjects on basis of their interests. This perhaps is the first step where we go wrong, when planning our careers.
We often forget that the height of our achievement is very much subjective to the hold our field manages to have on us. When people lose interest, the rest of the career becomes all about surviving one day after another, or just retaining the job to be able to pay out EMIs. Disinterest in what one has been forced or manipulated into doing, sooner or later catches up with a person.
But we have to keep in mind that our children fight this battle for better prospects in an arena which favours rote learning and good marks. As Grant himself says, if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google. Those who excel in this system get better opportunities, like prestigious colleges, better teachers and better placement offers. Such students naturally get a head-start over average kids. Naturally, they will have a better starting package, then your child. Then we must ask ourselves whether we need to change our definition of success itself.
Parents who think they could have made different career choices, had they not obsessed over marks and grades, should pass down their experience as advice to their children.
By the time most grown-ups realise that success doesn’t always mean the biggest paycheck or admission in the best college in the country, it is too late for them. They have invested too heavily in choices they have made, to walk away. But perhaps such parents can be better guides when it is time for their children to opt for a field. Parents who think they could have made different career choices, had they not obsessed over marks and grades, should pass down their experience as advice to their children because success is more than good marks and a great salary. If you’d rather not trade what you do for anything else in the world, then that is professional success right there. How many Indian professionals can actually say that about their career choices?
Picture Credit: newsworldindia.in
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.