For the ‘average student’, it is an endless stream of challenges and struggle in his/her quest to reach the top.

The race to be number one starts with pre-kindergarten these days, with interviews being held for play-school admissions. Right from that point to the pinnacle of student-life —entering college — it’s a mad rush to occupy coveted positions in quality institutions. A few are able to sail through this rush and some others give up unable to cope, but for most students who fall under that blanket term — average student — it is an endless stream of challenges and struggle and even innovation. If they looked back on their college days after twenty years what would they remember — their efforts to beat the top-ranker? Taking up their first loan? Finding their true talent? Or earning their first salary? It could in fact be any of this, we discover.

Who is an average student? Is it something that is decided by mere marks? Clinical psychologist Sangeetha Madhu says, “An average person need not be defined in terms of marks — I would define an average student as one who has a balance between his or her powers of logical reasoning and the emotional front. This balance causes them to be caring towards animals, aware of their emotional requirements, empathetic in general, understanding towards the peer group, having respect for the opposite gender, valuing the environment, being a team player and so on.”

She goes on to say, “In fact, in the non-academic, real world, average students have more strengths than weaknesses and they should capitalise on this. An average student who has the repertoire of social, emotional and people skills can become potential leaders and make valuable contributions to the society.”

Coping with pressure

But given that education and marks play an important role in a student’s life, sometimes it seems that the whole educational system is geared towards a super person who can perform high. It can be detrimental if the student falls prey to this pressure. So it is important to think about how students cope.

“Certainly there is a lot of pressure to score and bad feeling when one cannot perform well,” says a professor from a city college, “There is no way out. Sometimes the anger felt by the student under pressure turns against us.” He continues on a different note, “There was a student who was very good at Karate. She represented the country in the Commonwealth Games in South Africa and then in China. She would struggle with the lessons because she missed out on many classes owing to poor attendance. She was so depressed that she wanted to quit. We coaxed her and told her to aim for a minimum pass mark. It was important that she should get a degree which would help her in getting a job later on.”

Some students may start their life outside academics even while in college. This calls for excellent time management and focus. When managed well, college-going years can be really fruitful. For instance, R. Kalaiselvan from the Viscom department of Loyola College, who is a dancer and musician (he plays the drums), says, “I was a child artist and have performed on more than 500 stages. To do this, it is necessary to have your studies on a proper track. I am lucky because our college encourages us to be in the limelight. In fact, I have no time to waste.” He is used to mingling with students from all departments in the common classes. He looks forward to a career in the creative arts — film direction or production in a TV Channel. “I am used to being a leader from childhood and cannot work under a supervisor.” he says.