Your exam results aren't great. What now?

The verdict is in. A year's worth of reading, late-night cramming and working your way through dozens of sample papers has finally boiled down to a set of five numbers and one percentage. Your results are good, but they're not great. You'll get into a college, but likely not the top choice you had in mind. Maybe not even your second pick.

So what's next?

Don't lose heart and don't lose faith. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and follow these 7 tips if you received below 50% (or between 50% and 60%) on your exams.
  1. Be patient. A little patience goes a long way. Remember, the first cut-off list is not the final one. There will be a second and a third list eventually. It's important to remember that most students at the top will appear on almost every first cut-off list, so once they start taking up slots in various colleges, seats at other colleges start to open up. If your percentage isn't on the lower side, there's a good chance of you making it to the second or third cut-off list. Hang in there.

  2. Consider ALL options. While you're waiting, it doesn't hurt to consider other options. Have you applied to private institutes? Other universities? Out-of-town colleges? Now is the time to do all those things if you haven't already. It's always smart to have a back-up plan -- a Plan B that will come in handy if your first choice doesn't work out. Sit for a few entrance tests and give an interview or two if you qualify. It's all practice.

  3. Think about changing course. If you're convinced that your top college choice is the right one for you, consider changing courses. If you're applying for a bachelor's in commerce and don't qualify, think about a switch to a bachelor's in arts instead. A B.Com (Pass) is not as prestigious or beneficial in the job market as a B.Com (Hons), but it does open more doors for you in the present. You may even think about switching to an array of vocational courses that are on offer. Vocational courses enable you to start working sooner while nurturing your inherent skills in your chosen career path.

  4. Think outside the city. Start researching options outside of metropolitan areas. Yes, you always dreamed of going to University of Delhi or other reputed universities in Delhi, or Mumbai, but so did about a million other students. Shri Ram College of Commerce, for instance, has only 400 seats but gets about 28,000 applications each year. That's why the competition is so tough. If your marks don't allow it and you're not making any cut-off lists, it might be time to start looking where the competition isn't as stiff. Your career and life trajectory aren't only determined by the college you attend, so don't place too high a premium on getting into the top one.

  5. Reassess your motivations. Why was your first college choice the right one? Because it's the best academically or are there other reasons behind your selection? Perhaps your best friend has already got admission there and you want to join her? Or maybe you've heard about the awesome parties they throw? Did your favorite movie star go there? Consider this: In the grand scheme of things, where you studied isn't going to be the only important thing, and no matter where you go, you'll find friends, adventure and fun.

  6. Lower your expectations. Yes, going to St. Stephen's will give you valuable political and business contacts that you can nurture for the rest of your life. But so can the local community college. With changing times, regular colleges are no longer the only option to pursue higher studies. A student can opt for various courses through Distance Education mode as well. There is no one path. One person's great experience at Stephen's can be another's idea of misery. Don't get too fixated on your ideal place until you've even experienced it.

  7. What do you REALLY want to do? Do your college choices make sense for your career and life goals? You may even take a self-assessment test to see where your academic strengths lie. Sit down and evaluate your long-term ambitions and you might find that, in the end, it's not the college that determines your success or failure in life, but how you approach the challenges, including this one, that come your way.
Once the results are in, they're in. You can't change that. Instead of wasting your time sulking, start preparing for what lies ahead by taking action. With the right attitude, finding the perfect fit for the next three years can be easier than you think.



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