“Life is not a 3-hour movie, learn to live and enjoy every minute of it!”, says Vinay Kumar

Vinay Kumar, Managing Director & CEO – Rao IIT Academy, advises students to think of their long term life goals and make their immediate decisions accordingly, with lasting effect

For that most coveted exam, the hard to crack, or so perceived IIT JEE, students need to prepare hard. Vinay Kumar, Managing Director & CEO – Rao IIT Academy, shares his views and advises young aspirants. He should know, for the academy he heads coaches thousands of aspirants every year across the country to take the popular exam. The IIT JEE is not just a test for entry into an engineering programme, it is also an experience which builds strength, character and will among students, but not without its own drawbacks. Kumar looks at all the aspects about the exam and tries to reason with the aspirants, their parents and families and society at large to look at things with a different perspective and a new and modern light. Excerpts from an interview:

For the preparation of IIT JEE, you look at early recognition and preparation. Can you tell us something about that? Hope early should students start thinking about it?

Today, early preparation may need the students and their parents to start thinking from the eighth or ninth standard, while they are still preparing in school. Of course, they need to take care that the child likes to basically study science and enjoys working with the different subjects like physics, chemistry and maths. These are the core subjects that students need to focus on when they are preparing for any entrance exam for an engineering programme.

I suggest that eighth or ninth standard is the correct time because if this is the path for that student, then the pointed guidance can start from then onwards. From that time on, the child can get focused on what they want and what they need to do to achieve it, be it in any field. If they decide to join IIT JEE preparation, then they will get the right guidance.

Also, when students start early, they can improve their ability to answer the questions in the specific format of the test. They will be taught according to the test and also be offered prep tests and mock tests in real time environment so that they can gauge how much they are capable of. They will have the platform to improve their performance through adequate stimulation.

Do you think that coaching is absolutely necessary for IIT JEE? Can a student attempt it on his own and do well?

It’s not about being absolutely necessary. It’s just that in school or college, the curriculum is designed in a manner where students gain knowledge, but it is imparted in a way that they take one final exam at the end of the year or the end of the semester. Basically, in school or college, they are prepared to clear the board exam.

Now an exam like IIT JEE is a national level entrance test and a competitive exam. It requires a few additional skills and a different kind of study of the subject. The way the paper is set and questions are asked is very different from the regular exams that students are used to. For that, the additional skills are needed.

When a student undergoes coaching, he is trained with these additional skills and taught how to tackle the questions and how to answer them swiftly, since the amount of time they have is limited. Students not only need to get the right answer, but they also need to get it soon enough. So, while in school and college the students are taught at arriving at the correct answer with the logical steps and reasoning to score maximum marks, at the coaching for IIT JEE, students are taught a little differently. They are trained to look at the various options of answers given and perhaps try to eliminate the wrong choices for the multiple choice question tests. The skill of time and elimination with speedy logic is what the students need to build through their years of coaching for this exam.

And coaching is a word that comes from sport, so here in academics too, it can be taken in the same sense.

What advice will you give students to handle the stress while preparing for the IIT JEE?

More than stress, students will have anxiety. If you see the numbers, you see that every student who had worked hard and put in the effort has qualified for the JEE Advanced after the JEE Main. I feel there is more hype around the test than needed which also creates the stress. Students as well as their parents need to be patient and need not to over think.

If the student has put in the necessary effort, and taken all the mock tests, timed himself in doing the tests and worked upon imrpoving himself, I see no reason for the student to be overly stressed. It is legitimate for the students to be nervous about the exam, after all they are all young, but trainers also take care of those who stress easily and ask them to work upon the stress with certain techniques.

What would you say the parents’ role is, in your experience, when their children are preparing for and close to taking the IIT JEE?

My first request to the parents is that they should let their children live their lives. I feel we should not force the children to do anything they don’t want. Parents need to understand that every child is special and that exam is only one part and one aspect of life. They have to live their lives, and parents need to let the children live their lives. Parents have to be the support system and guiding factors, not stress creators.

I would also like to say that five years down the line when the children think back, they should be proud enough to say that my parents were pillars of strength when I was preparing for my entrance exams. There are career options in all the fields, and most of them have a good earning potential. So, it is better that the parents let the students decide what they want to do, so that they make a career, earn well and also be happy doing it.

Every year, there are thousands of students who don’t score extremely well at the JEE, and perhaps don’t get a seat at any of the IITs. What would be your advice to them?

I’m glad you asked this question. I would like to say to them that this is just the beginning of your professional life. And life is not just about a tag from a particular institute. Take a larger perspective. Last year, about 8.5 lakh engineering seats went vacant in the country. That means there is always room to study if you want to. Look at your long term goals and then make decisions today. You can become an engineer even if you join another college apart from the IITs or NITs. Life is not a three-hour movie, and you have to be happy living it every minute.

Take some real life examples. APJ Abdul Kalam was not an IITian but he still led an exemplary life. Getting into an IIT is not the only way to make it big in life. Try to have a bigger picture in mind, and try to achieve it slowly through your life. I also think that our society also had to view success in this way, and not make a big deal about it. The problem is that everyone thinks about pressurising the students, instead of looking at the world and how fast it is changing. Unfortunately, everything is related to marks, and that mindset needs to change.

Education has to be about bringing the best out of the student’s personality, hello him grow and work with commitment. Between the ages of 17 and 25 or even 30 years, students should figure out what they would love to do and work towards doing exactly that, convincing their parents that it is the best option for them.

One thought you would like to leave our readers with?

Every individual is different. I would like to say that students need to understand their own interests before they decide to join any course or coaching. Society at large should enable the children and parents should think hard about what the child wants and why he wants it. Parents should also look at what the child is good at. When we talk of the IITs or institutions like that, they represent only the top 50 or 100 institutes. There are numerous other colleges and institutes that a student can study at and acquire a good education. Plus, the IITs and NITs are only for an undergraduate degree. Other colleges also offer that degree.

To advance in their lives and careers, a student can easily look at a postgraduate degree within the country or even abroad to better his prospects. A postgraduate degree can be done after graduation from any college, there is no necessity of passing from a particular institute.

What I’m trying to say is that there are more opportunities that people really think, in every field, at every level. So in the general sense, students and their parents should not get worried and depend only on the JEE.

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