So you worked your butt off (or not) and the results are out for all to see. You thought this would be the end of one important milestone (and it is!) but it’s also the beginning of another. It’s the question everyone plagues you with after 10th standard- what do you plan to do next? Do you take Arts, Science or Commerce? Do you continue in the same school or switch to another, or go for a junior college? What board? Should you enrol for coaching classes? Go with the herd or listen to your parents or carve your own path? It’s all so confusing! We know you’re busy going crazy texting all your friends about their plans, dodging parents and nosy well-meaning neighbours and trying to figure out what you want to do. Panic no more! We’re here to help!
Begin by letting go of pre-conceived notions!
By now, society has already filled your head with notions of who you are, what you are good at and what “should” be studying .Let go of the noise to focus on yourself and what you want. Kaushik grumbles- “The thing in India is, we are fed this idea that our options are very limited, in certain combinations. They are not. We need to think outside this Science-Commerce-Arts boxes and think in a wider, more interdisciplinary fashion.”
What don’t you want to do?
If you’re scared of blood, you may be able to safely discount medicine ; if you don’t enjoy reading heavy texts, Humanities/Arts may not be a great option for you. Select by eliminating.
Begin with the end in mind:
It’s definitely a challenge at this stage to predict what you might want to do in college, 2 years from now, but it’s safe to say you want to keep certain options open and factor them into your decision making!
For instance- if you hate Math, but are interested in studying Economics after college, you may not want to drop it because some colleges (eg: St. Stephens) need it as a pre-requisite for a B.A. Economics. If you want to take up Engineering, Medicine or Law in a top college in India, you may not want to discount the idea of going for coaching classes.
Choosing what stream to take:
Aptitude:So everyone says you should take up science and sign up for JEE coaching or your life is over, but Physics doesn’t come easily to you and you’re not very good at math. Take your aptitude into consideration. Don’t force yourself into something you don’t believe you’re good at- you’re not giving yourself any competitive advantage! Instead, work your strengths.
Interests: Begin with what you love doing- what gets you REALLY excited? In life, not just in school. Love animals and the environment? How about including Biology as a subject? Hate the PCMB combination? Okay. Maybe you’ll make a great Environmental Lawyer or Development Studies student- so how about taking up Humanities and/or signing up for Law coaching? If you were the kid who always had a graphic novel under your desk or spent all his/her time doodling during class, maybe you should consider taking up Art, Engineering Design (if you also enjoyed math and science) in future. So work in that direction.
Future considerations: TSee: the “Begin with the end in mind” section above.
Unique Combinations: Schools are bound by it’s Board’s rules. Some schools offer combinations like PCME (E as in Economics) for students who are strong at math. Others may allow you to mix and match w/in Commerce and Arts. Yet others may allow you to include Home Science and Physical Education, which are a good option if you want to take up Aviation, Sports Psychology, Event Management, etc. later. Consider: the difficulty level of the combination, as well as any other commitments you may have (eg: Entrance Exam training, other projects or hobbies)
Should you switch schools?
For some students, it’s not really an option, as your school may have only until the 10th standard.
One of the major considerations for 10th standard students leaving an old school and joining a new one is leaving friends and a familiar environment behind. We asked around and EVERYONE seems to agree that it’s irrelevant- after 10th, everyone gets busy preparing for college so you’ll keep in touch with the friends you need to and let go of those that never mattered. The teething troubles will be over soon, you’ll meet new people and broaden your horizons; and besides, there’s always Facebook!
Between a school school and junior college is another dilemma. Some junior colleges are adjacent to a college college and this may affect your adjustment. Laments Chayya- “I was a good student till my 10th and after getting awesome marks, I secured admission into a top JC in Bombay. Unfortunately, I wasn’t emotionally mature for the commute and the culture shock. I got sucked into the partying culture, bunked classes, fared badly in 12th and didn’t get into the college of my choice afterwards.” Regardless of where you go, it’s important to outline your priorities and not get sucked into
What Board is right for you?
Suman insists the switch from 10th ICSE to 12th CBSE Arts was right for her- “I thought the standard for English was more high-level in ICSE, but the fact that CBSE marking was based more on value-points gave me a sense of control over my performance. Cut-offs matter.” Manasa switched from a CBSE school to a State board school as she felt the course load would be easier to tackle and more in line with the Engineering Entrances.
You may also want to consider a more international curriculum, especially if you’re looking at an undergraduate degree abroad. Says Tejas, currently at a top university in USA: ”A-Level syllabus is challenging and application driven. So it really makes you think when you study.” He shifted to Singapore for junior college (the equivalent of 11th/12th) and describes it as an excellent learning experience. “I would recommend studying abroad for a semester or two if possible, if you do not go for your undergraduate degree. It gives you great exposure to people and experiences that will prove to be a great learning curve. ”
The International Baccalaureate (IB) has gained popularity in recent years too, but the fact that it’s expensive (often upto 12 lakhs per annum) is a major barrier to entry. If applying for colleges abroad, do get your parents to research on important deadlines for the SAT, UCAS, etc and also visit a Study Abroad education counselor together. Scholarships and financial aid may be available in the field/college of your interest too, so be sure to be in the know.
The difficulty level of the board and style of learning advocated (by rote, more application-driven, more test-driven, etc) should be important factors in your consideration- ask yourself what kind of an environment you would thrive in.
Should you sign up for Entrance Exam coaching?
See: the “Begin with the end in mind” section above. It’s ultimately whether or not it’s right for you.
What if I pick the wrong stream/board or combination?
Despite your most careful selection, if after 6 months, you realize that your choice is wrong for you, you do have the option of changing within a time frame. Even if you miss the window, all is not lost.
Meena and Kriti both switched to Commerce- Meena from Science (she didn’t like Chemistry and Calculus but liked Statistics and Accounting) and Kriti from Arts (“I wanted something less text-heavy and more immediately relatable to everyday life- like managing money or a business” she says). Both admit that it was a difficult decision and Kriti even had to change schools, as she didn’t meet the Commerce cut-off in her previous school- which meant she left some friends behind and her parents lost some fees in the change. “I felt guilty and sad initially, but in the long run, this was the right decision for me”, she says. And guess what- she’s now employed as an Analyst at a well-known finance company!
Anmol swore he would renounce Math after his 10th and regretted it later when he found out it made him ineligible for entry into Economics programs at Delhi University. He was devastated, but then cleared the IIT Madras HSEE- now he’s majored in Economics, relearnt his Math and doesn’t mind at all. “Things have a way of working out,” he says smiling.
Swathy, currently graduating from a prestigious design school in Singapore, echoes these sentiments, adding: “ If you wish to be a doctor be one, if you wish to be a bag designer or an animal behaviour therapist, then go ahead and do that, do not think about what others will say, its your life so you should do what you want! ”
Note: Some names have been changed to protect identity.
Did we miss anything out? Do you have your own story to share? Let us know in the comments below!