If marks don’t matter…then what does?

streettrotter-marks dont matter

Dear 12th class pass outs, 

You all have crossed a major landmark of your future career. With good board results or bad, no matter what you scored, trust me you will end up doing something in your life, either exemplary or ordinary. Nonetheless you will be happy, with a good life and complementary needs. Your 12th mark sheet will rest in your folder as one of the much needed document for official paperwork, only. Your marks won’t matter, but yes a lot of other things will soon do….

For starters, let me tell you a bit about my professional and academic journey. I gave my 12th boards back in 2005, and scored a decent 88 percent (10 years back 88% was decent). Fast forward, I went to NIFT New Delhi for my Bachelors in Fashion Design; then to London College of Fashion for a one year post grad diploma in fashion media; worked in a reputed B2B magazine for five years in Delhi, and currently I am pursuing my Masters in Journalism from The Boston University. Side by side, I am also interning at Harvard University as a photojournalist in HPAC. Combining all these landmarks together, I would like to believe I did manage to do fairly well in life, considering I was always the usual, above-average – average kind of student in school. Once again, my 12th marks didn’t matter much, but a lot of other things connected to my marks made all this possible for me. So what is it that really matters?

Planning ahead: Many of us think our 12th marks decide the college we would get into. Well that’s not entirely true. The only thing that matters while in school is what you ‘think’ you would like to do in life, and your plan to achieve it. Even before I got my 12th result, the NIFT entrance results were already out and I was the 19th ranker all over india. I got the center and course of my choice, and I was sitting on my cloud nine happily. On the day on my CBSE result all that mattered was for me to score a minimum of 60 percent so that I could pursue NIFT.

Just like me, many others had already chosen a professional college that they wanted to crack and had been studying for it alongside board exams. Someone got into engineering, some in architecture, some in the painting or interior designing schools they wanted to get into, and others scored well for their IIT dream. Boards didn’t matter to us, as we were already in the college of your dreams. Having a clear picture of what career you want is all that matters than sitting and waiting for a result you can least hope for or control. 

Opting for a ‘good college’ over a good course: With all my experience of some of the highly recognized colleges in the world, I can assure you that no one has ever asked me the course I pursued. All that matters till date is what college I studied from. In the long run no one cares if you were a BA Pass or a BCOM as long as you have a good college tag validating you. So when it comes to choosing a good college over a good course, go ahead and opt for the better institute. Point being – the name of your college is how you will be judged professionally for the rest of your life.

Achieving higher bars of success than just a MBA or higher education tag: Once you are out of your undergrad, like most others you would want to be an MBA. This funda worked fantastically a decade ago, but fails to impress anymore. Today, every Tom, Dick and Harry is a MBA or a Masters of Something, from the endless higher education colleges that have cropped up around the world. Going abroad to study further is no more an achievement unless you are doing it from the best schools in the world.

So what is it that will still make you unique? It will be once again the institute you did your graduation from. It will be on your resume forever, showing growth and higher success than your last achievement. Always aim for a better college than your last one, and challenge yourself to crack the most unachievable one on your list. A little secret from my experience is – ‘No college is out of your league’ if you are good at what you do, have a smart application, and a worth noticing resume. Working hard on your application and how you write it, with a top notch SOP, is all that matters and will eventually help you crack your dream college.

Working hard for your GMAT/GRE and TOEFL/ILETS: If there are a few exams in the world that really matter – it is your GMAT/GRE scores and your TOFEL/ILETS result. For these you will have to start all over again, no matter at what age you plan to take them. Till now these are the only scores that have mattered extremely in my career, and made me stress out the most as well. Preparing for my GRE at the age was 27 after being out of touch from studying for almost a decade, was the toughest professional journey I undertook. My advice to you is, give these exams earlier while you are still in college and keep them safe with you as they stay valid for a couple of years and more. This will give you enough time to evaluate yourself, and re-attempt if you score less, until you get the result you really need.

A bunch of killer Internships: Marks don’t matter but your resume does. Always. And that’s why a few outstanding internships are the key to your career, and higher education. Try your best to use your summer vacations to find yourself little internships in good organizations. This advice goes to all the students who do not even need an internship to pass their course. Finding an internship and successfully completing it with a good letter of recommendation shows self motivation and the passion to learn and do something in life. Nevertheless, it will help you grow, groom your personality and will teach you a lot about being on the job, rather than simply sitting and dreaming about getting a kickass package someday.

A ‘survival of the fittest’ kind of attitude: This might sound a little mean, but if you want to be successful in life, you need to be a little selfish about what you achieve. If you see an opportunity, jump and grab it hard and try not to discuss it much with all your friends first. Your professional journey is yours alone, and holding back due to contradicting peer advice might make you loose sometimes. Listen to your gut feeling and act. If you get it, celebrate it. If you don’t, let go and try for something different.

Last but not the least, a few other things that matter – is a bit of luck to back your endeavors and also the fact that you should never compare yourself to anyone in the world or try to achieve something that someone else did. You can never know what was their journey like to reach where they have, and also if the same would work out for you the way it did for them. Leaving aside the stress of your marks, my only advice to you is to carefully plan each step of your dream like consecutive milestones and work on each one of them one step at a time. Work hard, but prioritize the things that matter, over things that may seem important but are deeply superfluous. In the end, marks wont matter, but your ATTITUDE towards success will.