I sacrificed everything for the "IIT dream" and ended with a failure. What went wrong?
IITs are the biggest dream of every middle class science student in India. Lacs of students appear for JEE and a handful of them can make it to the IITs every year. The 100 billion dollar coaching industry in India is primarily focussed on the JEE exam. Students are being prepared for JEE from the very initial days of their schools. Two categories of students we can see in a coaching class. One who is preparing from the pre nurture division and the other one starts preparing just after his 12th in a repeater's batch. Both have their own set of struggles. But in JEE you get an advantage if you have been preparing for a long time.
The intensity of struggle for the ‘IIT dream’ can be seen on the face of students who are in KOTA ( the coaching capital of India) managing the coaching fees by selling their family land back home. The sacrifice of their parents are commendable who put everything behind just to support their kids on their dreams.
Coaching companies in KOTA are criticised a lot for the tremendous pressure a student has to go through during his days of preparation. Some cases of suicide have also been reported in recent years from the city of KOTA.
The coaching ecosystem in KOTA is a well proven mechanism. The high class infrastructure with best of the best faculties available in India comprises the ecosystem. Every year more than 1.5 lacs students go to KOTA from different parts of the country to prepare for the IIT dream.
The backstory of my preparation:
It all started from the 9th grade of my high school when a teacher of mine introduced me to the IIT dream. From then, my only dream was to study at an IIT after completion of my schooling. Schooling completed in 2010 and I managed to score 90% on my H.S.L.C examination. Though I failed to get a rank within the top 20 of the state, I was quite ok with my result. In my state, during our time, JEE was a secondary thing. Primary focus of everyone was on the board exam results. Going with the flow, it was decided to enroll into a secondary school within the state board for 11th and 12th. My preparation for the IIT dream was now skipped to the dropping year.
The KOTA story: It was in the mid of 2012, my preparation for the great IIT dream started. I was in KOTA then, the mecca of JEE coaching. I started studying day and night putting everything behind. Far away from teenage distractions, students faced during their KOTA life, I was just focussing on my studies. The classes were quite enjoyable. Everything was going fine with a life surrounded by DPPs and Sheets. The "IIT dream” seemed to be quite near just a year away.
The morning 6:30 hrs class to the evening 21:30 hrs class, preparation was at peak. Life was just limited to classes, homeworks and talwandi circle. Don't think it otherwise, The poha and kachori of talwandi were the best things except studies.
IIT( JEE) never seemed to be this much easier before coming to KOTA. Nobody was actually focussing on the NITs. Everyone was just after a grand goal computer science from IIT Bombay. As faculties used to say "If you aim for much higher goals than your capabilities, you will still end up at something higher than your capabitities".
Competition and pressure: It was a rat race actually. Everyone was putting their best to build a life they dreamt of. Competition was quite high and so the pressure to perform well in every coaching test was also quite high. They broke down, cried, stood up again and started studying, keeping everything behind. It is rightly said that once you live the KOTA life, you can survive anywhere in any situation. Staying far away from parents at such a young age to prepare for something managing everything on their own makes them tougher. A place where teachers are the best friends and books are the only companions, KOTA is rightly said the hub of future IITians. Only the best of the best students (exceptions are there) from the country go to KOTA so the classes were flooded with mostly toppers. The level of Competition is very high due to which some students suffer from anxiety issues also.
Introspection: Even after all the sacrifices, hard work and systematic preparations, I failed to make it to the IITs. Nothing can hurt you more than failing in something you always dreamt of. What can be the reason? What went wrong? How can someone fail in the main test even after performing so well on the various mock tests? Was it due to pressure and stress during the exam hours? Was there any lack in the preparation? All these questions were on my mind over these years.
There can be multiple reasons for the failure in JEE exam. First of all JEE, whether it is mains or advanced is not that tough as the society portrays it to you. Most of the students who can make it to the IITs are average students. JEE is a moderate level exam and you don't need to be super smart to make it to the IITs. JEE is a pure mind game. Only thing that matters is the preparation and your calmness level at the exam.
Revision is the key: As the chapter is completed, most of the students can solve the majority portion of the sheets whereas these same students fail to solve 30% of these problems after 2-3 months. This happens due to lack of revision. The other side of the story is the course gets completed in a superfast way, sometimes one chapter a day. It is quite tough for many students to match with the speed. It becomes next to impossible to revise something that was being taught 3 months back. This is the prime reason why most students who used to perform well in coaching tests fail the JEE exam.
Stress during the exam hours: A student goes through tremendous pressure and stress during the exam hours. Most of the students fail to handle stress during the exam hours which ends their dream for lifetime.One who can handle the stress, wins in the game.
Maybe these two are the major reasons of my failure despite preparing so well for the “IIT dream”
By the way one can never be a failure until he accepts himself to be one. As one of my teachers in coaching CSS Sir said “All successful persons are not IITians and all IITians are not successful”. The struggle is still on and very soon something big is going to happen that will be worth more than the IIT dream. I am very much confident about it.