Would you believe it if someone said they left their seat in MBBS for an arts degree?

Well, that is what happened to me. Let me paint you a picture of how much pressure a child is in when in 11th and 12th wishing to be a doctor. A picture of how the pressure can take its toll on so many young minds.

In 10th grade, I decided I will be a doctor. I had been under pressure to make a choice for a long time but many other students don’t even get to make a choice. They are thrown into coaching factories at 14 years of age (or younger) and expected to fulfil the wishes of their parents. To realize dreams they never even saw. To prepare for a future they don’t recognize.

The pressure of preparing for competitive exams

I had heard many stories of bright students falling behind in higher senior secondary. I had been an academic achiever for all my life. The prospect of falling from that grace really scared me. Gradually the dreaded grade 11 arrived. My friends left for different cities. Everyone going off to fulfil dreams of someone else while I stayed in my hometown to recognize the dreams of some others. There are thousands of students who shift cities when they move to 11th. Away from their families, from their friends and under the humongous pressure to succeed. Many students return to their homes within the first 3 months.

The usual routine of someone in HSSC is 8 hours of school followed by an hour break for lunch. 4 hours of continuous coaching classes with each class 1 hour long and a 5-minute break in between. 30 minutes of rest upon returning and the student is then expected to study for 6 hours by him/herself. In these 6 hours, they must prepare for the test the next day, complete their homework, prepare for the test on the weekend, prepare for a test in school, revise everything they learned last week and study in advance the things they will study tomorrow. Students sleep less than 5 hours at an age where sleeping for 8 hours is necessary. I managed to make it through this experience. Many of my bright friends fell behind.

It is not a surprise that so many students buckle under this tremendous pressure. Every year when the results of competitive exams are released, they are followed by news snippets of students dying by suicide across India. I cleared my NEET exam and got in the college of my choice but soon developed clinical depression. I spent a good part of 2 years being suicidal and making various attempts too. Luckily, I managed to make it through but so many others can’t. Such is the pressure of preparing for competitive exams.

A student dies by suicide every hour in India as of 2015. The only question I leave you with is this, why must we trade a stable future for a satisfactory one, a ‘safe’ life for a happy one?

Also, read – What is wrong with the Indian education system?

About the author –

Arjun Gupta is an author, a blogger and a mental health activist. Arjun had just joined the medical college of his dreams when he started showing signs of clinical depression. Two years worth of suffering later, he started writing a blog about his feelings and joined a course in Applied Psychology at Delhi University. Today, he is an author, a blogger, a YouTuber and an activist who tries to inform the society about the pervasiveness of mental illnesses. To read more of his works visit www.knightofsteel.com