Anxiety and Apprehension in Students Today- Why? & What can be done?

By Ms. Haveesha Buddhdev,

Founder of Sveekrti, HoD-School Counseling-Drishti, content director at MHT is a counselling psychologist, REBT therapist and a special educator.

Anxiety and Apprehension in Students Today- Why? & What can be done?

“You have to be very focused this year, attend school properly as well as all your tuitions as you are going to appear for your Boards! You have to score at least 95% to get into a good college”

At any given point in time, a student who is preparing for board exams is usually going through a lot of anxiety and apprehension so imagine in the middle of a pandemic, where there are already a lot of other stressors going around, what would be the state of any student?

But there comes a news that the education board is cancelling board exams. 

“YES! I do not need to give the Boards anymore!!! I feel so relieved!”

Now this might sound extremely relieving for the students on the outside but is it really so? There might be a lot of students and even their parents who would have sighed of relief when they heard that the boards aren’t going to happen this year. But at what cost?

Let’s first check the facts-

“The rising number of COVID-19 cases all over the country has led the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to cancel the Class 10 Board Exam 2021 and postponed the Class 12 Board Exam 2021 earlier this month. After CBSE’s decision, the CISCE and various other state boards have followed CBSE’s path.”-zeebiz

For laying off the board exams, education boards decided to put weightage on the internal exams that have been conducted throughout the year and provide with an objective criteria based on which a student’s result will be prepared. The student can choose to appear for the board exam if he/she is not satisfied with the results produced as per the objective criteria and internal assessments. 

 

Impact of these facts-

We have known for a long time that students do not usually take the internal assessments seriously thinking that they have their chance in the final exams to perform at their best and pass with higher percentages. Even the schools make their internal assessments very difficult and challenging in order for students to be prepared to face the worst in the board exams. As a result of this, most students usually do not score very well in the internal assessment and even the schools give marks very stringently in these assessments. 

“I have hardly scored 60% in internal exams, what am I going to do now?”

Nextly, this higher percentage that they wish to attain after their board exams, is decided by them as per the goal that they have set for themselves for their future career options they want to explore. Especially in India, parents and teachers focus a lot on which subjects they need to take up post 10th or which stream they need to choose post 12th. Whole academic life of a student post 9th grade goes on dedicating themselves to this decision they have collectively taken and hence has collective expectations. 

“I would not get into a good college, I have let down everyone :(“

The decision of cancelling the Boards, though was made keeping the physical health and safety of students and staff in mind, it probably did not consider the impact of it on the mental health of students and parents. Do we know why? 

 

Mental Health impacts-

The pandemic since the past year has been stressful enough where students have had to stay at home, away from their friends and their routine school life. They have had online schooling which of course has its own cons in terms of students’ understanding of the academic content, frustrations due to network issues and not being able to reach out to have a conceptual learning experience like they had in physical schooling. They have not been able to have any physical exercising, pursuit of hobbies or anything that can help them have relief from such stress. Among all this, they have been under the pressure of performing well in their board exams and attaining the target they and their families and teachers have set for them.

Because the board exams have been conducted for a long time without any exemptions or cancellations; parents, teachers, other organizations involved in the preparation and majorly junior colleges and universities are habituated with a certain process that a student goes through. A student decides on their career based on their board results, like which stream to choose, which field to go in, which subjects to leave etc. weigh heavily on the results. Even later on, job seekers do have to show their board results to their organization in order to have a credible recruitment.

As mentioned earlier, the news flash though sounding that of relief, came with a cost of challenging this whole process, and adding onto the stress a student was already going through. It though being accepted, has created a lot mixed reactions of anxiety and apprehension in students and parents. 

Picture credits: Independent School Management

Some questions which have given rise to this anxiety and apprehension among students and parents are:

  • Why has the education board announced this news this late? 
  • Would students be better prepared if they had announced this earlier?
  • What if students have not performed well in internal assessments?
  • What if they do not score well via the objective criteria that the boards will give?
  • If they opt for appearing for the board exams later, when would that be?
  • How much time will be wasted in waiting for the board exams to be on track again?
  • What if they miss out on a college application?
  • What if colleges/universities abroad would not give admission based on such assessment?
  • What if the student would have scored better in boards and gotten that admission?
  • What if the credit score is affected by such assessment and not accepted elsewhere?
  • How is not appearing for boards going to reflect on job prospects of the student in their career?
  • On what basis shall the student decide upon a stream/field of study?
  • On what basis shall the student leave or take upon a particular subject/course?

The list can go on and on but it can be established that students and parents today are going through a lot of anxiety about what next, when this uncertainty will vanish and extremely apprehensive about their career-which subjects, which colleges, what jobs and so on.

Some testimonials that are taken in this regards can be read at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/mixed-reactions-to-cancellation-delay-of-cbse-board-exams/articleshow/82073109.cms

 

What can be done?

Given the circumstances around, there is very little that can be done to change them as everything is completely out of the control circle and uncertain. But to help reduce this anxiety and apprehension in students and parents, here are few suggestions that might be helpful:

  • Talk to your school authorities to get a clear understanding of how the internal assessments will be weighed in on the results of the student and what will be the objective criteria for their final assessment. All information can provide a good factual picture which can be helpful in preparing a plan of action for a better future of the student.
  • Talk to the student in order to rest their anxiety stemming from a feeling of wasting this academic year and the apprehension of what is going to happen next. This can be done by helping them see the facts that what they have studied cannot go to waste as they have acquired that knowledge, help them see practical applications of that knowledge gained and keep them informed about how the school is going to frame their results.
  • Because now there is no conclusive evidence of which field to take that used to be there post the board exams, take upon career guidance from an organization that provides comprehensive results. This can help in knowing what the student is good at, what are their interests, what are their strengths and weaknesses and which field they shall take upon for a bright future. Doing so can reduce apprehension about the future for both students and parents.

Lastly, do not hesitate to talk about your mental health. Reach out to a professional, take guidance to feel less stressful, take out time for yourself to do what makes you feel happy and look forward to the bright side of everything going around. Drishti is here to help you out at each step. Reach out to us to move towards better mental health!

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