If parents and the school can help students develop a proper perspective on what they want to pursue in life, they will be better equipped to respond to exam stress, say experts.

It is a period of high pressure and extreme stress levels for Plus Two students who will be taking their Board examination in a few days. Students are bogged down by extreme pressure to perform well and score high in order to get into the best colleges and universities. Peer pressure, parental pressure and fear of possible failure all add up to the stress. Adolescents are confused due to lack of support and cooperation from parents on their career choice. They end up studying subjects they do not like, attend coaching classes for entrance test to courses they do not want to pursue. Experts share their views on the issue.

“Children, who have a very clear career planning even at the Class X level are the ones who do not get stressed. As they are clear about the subjects they want to study and courses they want to apply for, they are saved from undergoing the strenuous schedules at the coaching classes. They are focussed on the syllabus of the Board and and aim for eligible marks,” says Dr. S. Yamuna, paediatrician and adolescent physician and author of books on parenting.

Priya Mohan, director of www.vidyartha.com, a portal exclusively for the adolescents to assist them in career discovery, says that what our students lack is proper perspective, a broader picture. “Work life is longer than school life. Students are prepared to take one examination after another, without any clue on what they want to do. Students need proper perspective, a larger picture, by means of aptitude assessment, newer subjects and career guidance.”

“Be passionate in the chosen field. Glorification of mathematics and science in school final exams must be stopped. Children must be taught to handle competitiveness in the right frame of mind. Plus Two exam is critical but it is not the be all and end all of one's life,” she says.

Chandra Srinivasan, advisor, academics and administration, PSBB, KK Nagar, says, “Each child is unique. Each child has a great future.” In her experience in the field of academics for over 40 years, she has observed that parental interference is very high and this mars the career decision of children and she believes that more than the students it is the parents who need extensive counselling.

Most schools do conduct an aptitude test for Class X students. Parents and students are given a feedback and suggestion for appropriate group selection. But ultimately it is the parents who make the decision, keeping aside the aptitude test results. “Children need freedom to choose the subjects they wish to pursue at higher secondary level. Most of the time, students are depressed and stressed when they are forced by parents to choose math or science group. Parents must allow their wards to choose subjects they have the aptitude for and, encourage them to build a successful career path,” says Mrs. Srinivasan.

“The role of family is vital in monitoring the adolescents. Children must seek parental advice. Adolescents undergo a transition in terms of their emotions and bodily changes. Apart from this there is distraction from various sources. Add to this is the examination tension and overload of attending special coaching,” says Dr. Yamuna. “Kids who are made to attend coaching classes, invariably end up becoming tired during the school hours and this may affect their marks in Plus Two,” says Mrs. Srinivasan.

Ms. Vijaya Valli, vice-principal, KRMM Matriculcation Higher Secondary School, Adyar, says that her institution encourages students to stay focussed on preparing for the Board examinations. “We meet the parents along with their wards and counsel them to refrain from forcing their children to attend weekend and after-school coaching classes. We do this at the beginning of the academic year as we do not want our students to get stressed out and lose concentration.”

Parents who understand that aptitude is totally different from passion, give the necessary freedom for their children. “Career built along the lines of passion for the profession will ensure success,” Dr. Yamuna says.

As Mrs. Srinivasan says, students, parents and teachers must collaborate and work in harmony. This golden triangle will safeguard the interest of our children and their glorious future.