My daughter, in Grade 12, is planning to study abroad and is busy completing her applications, due sometime end December. Many of her classmates however have chosen to apply early to a college of their choice and have been receiving positive outcomes since last week. This year in fact her batch seems to have had a great start with kids getting into MIT, Caltech, Stanford, Swarthmore, Mudd, Pomona, Carnegie Mellon, NYU and the like. Clearly the mood is jubilant and the children believe that they are all ‘set’. After all, this is an important milestone in their educational journey, one that will have a lot of impact on their future. There is tremendous pressure on kids in high school and those that handle it well and come out with flying colours deserve kudos.
Now, fast forward to the last week-end. NDTV celebrated its 25th anniversary and decided to recognize 25 Indians from various fields who had made a global impact. One of them was Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the 2009 Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry. In his acceptance speech and message for youngsters he said something very interesting. Out of high school, he neither got admissions into the IITs nor a medical school (something that would have dipped the confidence of any aspiring youngster in India at that time). He therefore chose to pursue Physics. He later went to the US to pursue graduate studies in Physics at Ohio University, (not in one of the top brands) a school which may not even be in the consideration of many of today’s ‘bright’ youngsters. Upon completing his graduate program he realized he did not have an aptitude for Physics and decided to switch to Biology and went to University of California at San Diego. And that is not the end of the story. After completing his har gobind khorana transition in two years, he applied to as many as 50 job positions to be rejected by all! Undeterred Venkatraman continued his search to finally get an interim job where he spent 15 months before he found what he really wanted.
So, there, isn’t it fascinating that someone who started his professional journey as an 18 year old in a fairly unremarkable fashion ended up being one of the few Indians to have ever won a Nobel Prize?
What does this teach both parents and children?
• The value of resilience
• The importance of treating life as a continuous learning journey and to
• To be passionate about what you do.
These are not easy to do things though; parents can transfer their anxiety and also their ambitions to their children very easily, while kids can easily capitulate to peer- pressure, and get stressed out with all the hype around them. Parents need to be the unconditional support system for their children during these transitioning years, guide without forcing their decisions and to be understanding when things don’t always work out the way they are supposedly meant to. Most importantly teaching children that doing what you love or learning to love what you do, and being at it, is the one sure formula for ‘success’.