The Pressure on Students in Kota: A Deep Dive into the Challenges of JEE and NEET Preparation
Every year, thousands of students flock to Kota, Rajasthan, with dreams of acing the prestigious entrance exams, JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) and NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test). While some shine brightly, others find themselves teetering on the edge due to the immense academic pressure and a lack of adequate support systems. Smartkhabrinews ventured into Kota, speaking with students, teachers, coaching institutes, and counseling experts to unearth the underlying issues.
Engineering vs. Medical Aspirants
Kota sees a higher influx of engineering aspirants compared to medical aspirants. However, it’s the latter group that bears the brunt of student suicides in India’s coaching hub. Limited seats and the lengthy duration of the medical courses mean that only a few make the cut. The fear of failure and the prospect of losing a year drive many young minds to the brink, according to practicing doctors and experts.
Dr. Lakshay Mittal, a product of Kota himself, emphasizes the challenges of life in the city of coaching. Contrary to popular belief, parents play a crucial role in providing constant mental health support for their children. Dr. Mittal shares his own experience, recalling how he struggled initially and credits his parents and seniors for helping him through those tough times. He highlights the importance of parental support, often absent for many students.
The NEET Conundrum
The pressure on students preparing for NEET is exceptionally high, both in terms of course content and competition. Unlike engineering, which offers more seats across colleges, NEET has limited seats, prompting aspirants to worry about losing a valuable year. Dr. Mittal, who joined Kota in 2013, took the medical entrance exam the same year and successfully cracked it. Kota has two sets of students: those who arrive after Class 10 and those who join after Class 12, opting for a drop year. The latter group, in particular, feels immense pressure to succeed within the same year, leading to stress and anxiety.
Dr. Mittal emphasizes that parents must assess their child’s aptitude and interest for such rigorous preparation. They need to be attentive to warning signs if their child is struggling.
The Grim Reality
The first two weeks of September witnessed two tragic student suicides in Kota, both involving medical aspirants preparing for NEET. This brought the total number of student suicides to 25 for the year. The district administration responded by instructing coaching institutes not to hold weekly tests or exams for the next two months.
Kota has witnessed a rising trend in student suicides, with 25 cases reported in 2023 alone. This is a significant increase compared to the years 2020 and 2021, which were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and saw no reported suicides. There is a concerning lack of parental acceptance regarding their child’s struggles, and often, students are left to cope with academic pressures on their own.
A Call for Government Intervention
Experts believe that the situation in Kota demands substantial government intervention. While the number of seats in government colleges has increased over the past decade, the affordability of medical education remains a challenge. There is a need to standardize fees charged by private medical colleges and ensure quality education. The commercialization of education, especially in medical schools, needs to be controlled to a significant extent.
Dr. Rohan Krishnan, from a central government hospital, stresses the importance of a holistic approach to a child’s development. He suggests that parents should understand their child’s strengths and interests rather than forcing them into medical preparation if it’s not the right fit.
The story of Kota reveals the immense pressure and challenges that students face as they prepare for competitive entrance exams like JEE and NEET. It underscores the critical role parents play in providing the necessary support and guidance to their children during this crucial phase of their lives. Government intervention is necessary to address the affordability and quality of medical education in the country, ensuring a brighter and less stressful future for aspiring doctors.