Each parent nurtures hopes to see their child with a dazzling future. From scoring a brilliant percentage in board exams to getting into the highest ranking college, your dreams only aspire for the best for your child.
But in wanting everything to be the “best”, do we sometimes lose focus from the more important things?
You lose sleep over your child’s board exam results, get worked up imagining a scenario where they don’t score according to expectations, and in the event that they don’t, break into a panic about their future.
Right from your own childhood up until this moment, you have come to believe that board exam results set the course of one’s career. You hear it all around you, from other parents, teachers, and even in the hype generated by the media. Thus, you tell your child to work hard, push limits, go the extra mile – everything they can to break through to the finish line with a 95% in hand.
Yet, despite all the sweat and toil, they fall short of 2, 5, or even 20%. What then?
Is everything in life decided by that double-digit figure?
Logic and reason would tell you that it is not. In life and in career, nothing is defined by a single success or failure. You would know that as someone who has been through many of life’s curves and bends.
Now, I am not trying to say that marks don’t matter at all. They do.
They may get your child through to their dream college, give them the right push and might even make opportunities that much easier to come by. No one can deny the allure of having a pedigree college associated with your child’s name. But to what extent do these things get one in life?
There comes a point where marks and college brand name stop mattering the world and give way to other things with more substance. Things like skills, knowledge, talent, creativity and even work ethics. These are things that ultimately shape a child’s personality and determine how s/he is going to fare in life.
Here are a few reasons why marks are not as important as you may assume them to be.
1. Marks don’t equal aptitude
In a world where scoring 90% and above has become run-of-the-mill, where it is not uncommon to see students scoring greater marks than the questions attempted, marks don’t mean the same thing as they did previously.
There may have been an era where marks distinguished between students. The difference between a 90% and an 85% was significant, since it displayed that the student had worked that much harder and had that much deeper knowledge to show for it.
The way scores are evaluated in the current times, they are more often than not a reflection of the student’s ability to learn large amounts of text. They demonstrate subjective knowledge of a particular domain, and may or may not be an evidence of aptitude for the subject or the field. So, how can they distinguish between a student with brilliant aptitude who scored less and a student who can rote learn and write answers well?
Since marks are predisposed to be influenced by hundreds of factors within or outside the individual, they are not always an accurate indicator of the student’s potential and what they can achieve in life.
Given this understanding, many institutions are making a move towards entrance exams and the student’s profile as a basis for selection, scrapping the practice of relying on marks as a sole indicator of a student’s potential. They are taking into account aptitude, general awareness, and softer aspects like communication skills and team coordination to gain a holistic picture of the student’s capabilities.
So, if universities are not valuing marks as much, why should we?
2. Employers value skills and softer aspects
Marks may just be a part of the story of what one has learnt over the years, but they never show the entire picture. A student’s score in Physics or Economics never tell you about their creativity, resilience or the ability to work with others, do they?
But out in the real world, that is what companies look for.
- They desire social skills to meet the needs of clients and ensure team-coordination.
- They value a willingness to learn and an ability to pick skills up fast.
- They expect one to take responsibility for their work and solve problems with minimum external help.
These are not skills that our higher-secondary educational system currently aims to inculcate, despite the demand for them in the job market. Employers want candidates with well-rounded personalities, people who are skilled at the work they do, and possess the soft-skills to match it. Even the topper of a batch is not guaranteed a job if they don’t possess these qualities, however much excellence their academic record may display.
Every year we hear reports of lakhs of Indian graduates being unable to find a job. This reality occurs not because there are not enough jobs in the country or candidates score poorly, it is primarily because they do not possess the right set of skills required by companies. Everyone is so fixated on scoring the perfect percentage (urged on by teachers and parents alike), that in the process, they often shift away their focus from skill-development.
As someone who has been on both sides of the table in the selection process, I can tell you, companies don’t care how much a candidate has scored in their class 10th or 12th. Not if they see a self-motivated and responsible candidate, who stays on top of the skills required in his/her field.
Instead of focusing on marks alone, students should strive to be a better version of themselves.
3. Marks give way to other things as the career progresses
If our board percentage and alma mater mattered so much, resumes would just be white papers with our name, marks and college written on it.
Over the course of our careers, we engage in many different things and earn many different feathers for our caps. Competitions, awards, internships, exchange programs, certifications, work experience, responsibilities – all of these elements start gaining more and more importance, till a time comes when marks become altogether dispensable from the resume. In fact, people with about 4-5 years of work experience do not mention their board percentage on their resume at all.
Ask a person who has over 10 years of work experience, chances are they would not even be able to recall their exact board percentage. It is because it doesn’t hold much importance to their lives or their career.
Marks may seem like a life-and-death matter at the time, but they are very shortlived criteria of evaluation that would make way for other successes over the years.
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4. Board exams are not the last milestone in their career journey
Board exams may have been the first milestone in your child’s career, but they are one of many, and certainly not the last. Your child is going to get many more opportunities in life to prove their merit.
In the current job market, there are very few fields where a graduation alone suffices, and most students go on to pursue a postgraduate degree too. Even if a student has been unable to score the desired percentage to land a high-ranking college, they would still have the opportunity to demonstrate their calibre by aiming for an exceptional institution for their postgraduate studies. This is a great way to specialise in the field and get a brand tag (if that is what they desire).
Aside from this, their first internship, first job, and the other ones to come, each junction can be a stepping stone to success. Thus, their board result is surely not the last chance to prove their worth.
So, what should you do as a parent?
Marks are not a measure of your child as a person. They measure very specific things in very specific ways. As a parent, it may not always be easy to explain that to your child, particularly if they are extremely talented, but have received bad marks.
It is your responsibility to make them understand that low marks (or marks lesser than expectations) are not the end of the world. Their results may seem like a big hurdle for them to get over at the time, but a little perspective should help them get through this minor setback.
However, you also need to make them appreciate the importance of hard work, diligence and responsibility. They need to know that they cannot get by life without exerting efforts, good marks or not. Help them understand that hard work and dedication are life-long traits, and just because they have exerted efforts and got a good percentage, does not mean they would not have to put them in at later points in life.
How you react to their scores right now is going to play a huge role in their self-belief and their faith in their own abilities to achieve success. Inculcate ambition, aspiration, creativity and accountability, which are better predictors of success in life than a single result on a single exam.
All the best!
Have any of your own experiences to share? Post them in the comments below!