Yesterday, I read a piece in the newspaper about the JEE Advanced students. It was likely supposed to be a positive write-up about how the students made multiple sacrifices and studied super hard to get to where they are but in my mind it left a rather negative impression. They interviewed several students and one of them said "I skipped all family functions and social gatherings. Preparing for the JEE requires you to study day and night, so my social life went for a toss, but it is all worth it in the end." Another said how one of the biggest surprise he made was that he didn't go to the Expo. This is all is fine and all but it got me thinking: was it really worth it?
Not going to a show that occurs once every 5 years and was a masterpiece of architecture filled with opportunites to learn about other cultures and people, was it really a good idea? There were many volunteering opportunites as well, unfortunately I wasn't aware and I had other places to keep me busy so I couldn't attend to those but if I could, I would've definitely gone for it. Do you really want to go to an institution whose preparation asks you to sit out family functions and social gatherings and instead just sit and study the whole day? We humans, as social creatures, require connections. Not only to other human beings but, as Johann mentions in Lost Connections, to things like meaningful work and a feeling that "you have a future". By encouraging this kind of behavior, isn't the institution setting up a dangerous precedent? If I were to choose, I would want to avoid this as much as possible. And yet, this is how the premier government institutions in India work. They should be creating responsible citizens, not overstressed workaholics!
But then again, it is possible that the students who were interviewed were lying. It is possible that the situation is not as bad as they make it seem. It is possible that the exams are over-hyped (because from what I've seen in the past year, exams are very much overhyped) and these students are the exceptional cases who studied really, really hard. Regardless of what it is, I would love to know what the people reading this think.