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Updated: March 5, 2013 16:13 IST

The way ahead

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CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE: Your scores speak volumes about your diligence. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE: Your scores speak volumes about your diligence. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

After the Board exams comes the hour of reckoning. So what do you do next?

The time for making a choice is fast approaching. After the Class XII exams or after Class X, students have to think about what to do next. And these choices are important as everyone knows. If you decide not to take mathematics in Class XI, you cannot go on to becoming an engineer. This is probably the first significant decision that any person makes in his/her life, and parents are worried. So how should a student go about making the right choice?

Correct choice

Well, the first thing to note is that the “correct choice” is defined by the students (with parent involvement) themselves. No expert from outside can tell you what your correct choice should be. So, start early and think about what is important for you, systematically. Try this simple exercise: ask anyone who is in a career why they chose to do what they do today. Ask them, if they could turn the clock back to the time they were in school, would they do the same thing again? You will find the answers surprising. In our experience at Thinkingpalm’s Pathways Program, we have found that more than 50 per cent of adults questioned say they would have chosen to do something else! Understanding yourself takes time and you need to work at it. Many students get influenced by their peers and end up doing what their friends are doing. You can only avoid this if you are clear about your own goals.

Your options

Second, wherever there is doubt, keep your options open. For example, after Class X, you have the choice to leave out mathematics. I thought I was quite sure I wanted to do medicine, but I still took mathematics in Class XI and XII along with biology because, luckily, my older sister insisted that learning mathematics was vital for many fields. Her advice stood me in good stead when I decided to leave medicine and do my GMAT to go to a business school. I was easily able to cope with the quantitative aspects of the exam and ended up going to INSEAD, one of the best business schools in the world. So whenever you are confused about the subject or the course decision, choose the option that will allow you to have the broadest choice in the future. Make a list of the courses you want to take or the subjects you want to pursue and check what career options you are excluding.

Your grades

Last, a word on grades. I have often heard people say that grades are not important. We all know that grades/marks are important in getting your choice of course or subject and you may have decided to go to a college where high grades are not a requirement. But there is an even more important purpose for achieving good grades. Grades are a signal to potential recruiters and to employers. Consistent good grades signal to the working world that you are a person who does things well — even if those things may not all be in your line of interest. It signals that you are disciplined, hard-working and take pride in what you do — and these are characteristics every employer is looking for.

The writer is a director at Thinkingpalm’s Pathways Program.

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