As the coronavirus pandemic grips India, Class 10 and 12 board exams have been postponed and subsequently the college admissions. The competitive entrance exams, as well as recruitment tests for which applicants dedicate years of work, are cancelled till further notice. Those who are already in colleges have been asked to vacate their hostels, as most institutes lack proper medical healthcare facilities nearby. The new normal for students is anything but normal.
Dikshant Joshi, an SSC CHSL aspirant from Nanital in Uttrakhand, said it is harder for him to wait for the new exam dates as he had left his job at an MNC to prepare for the government recruitment exam. “I was ready to appear for the SSC CHSL exam when I got to know that it has been postponed. I used to work as a sales and marketing engineering in Mumbai and left my job to prepare for the test. Now, I have started preparation again. I have decided to give at least one mock test daily in order to retain all topics in mind.”
But Joshi fears the exams will be tougher for him now. “I do not know when the exam dates will be announced and I should be prepared for it. Since the days between the exams have been more, the exam is sure to get tougher; the competition is already high. I hope the wait is not too long. Being confined in a house with nothing to break the monotony makes it hard to concentrate for a longer duration.”
There are other challenges too facing a lot of students. While most of the institutes have asked students to vacate their hostel rooms, cancellation of public transport due to coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for students to commute.
Fareen Afza of Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI), said they have been given a deadline of a couple of days to vacate rooms while international students are still allowed to stay. “We are 5-10 girls and can arrange for our food ourselves, but we should be allowed to stay in our rooms. It is more dangerous to travel in public transport during this pandemic. Getting ticket to my hometown Bihar on such short notice is difficult anyway and trains are being cancelled too,” she said, adding how girls from Kerala and Kashmir were not able to book flights home.
With the Janata Curfew on Sunday, Afza is left with neither food nor accommodation. She said she is planning to stay at a friends’ house till she can book a ticket home.
Vacating hostels has not been difficult for everyone. Anand Raj, a third-year BTech student at IIIT Bhopal, said he decided to stay back with a couple of friends since his parents are both working. “I thought that it was not as serious as the college authorities were making it out to be. A couple of my friends stayed back to prepare for UPSC, while I got time for PUBG after 220 days,” Raj said, adding how getting the ‘welcome back’ message on screen was a delight.
“However, as time passed and markets began to close, I have decided to go back home. For the past few days, I have been spending hours reading about coronavirus online and it is giving me anxiety.”
“More the time passes more I get worried about my degree. Other IIITs have already started online classes while our campus is yet to provide the same. The last semester is really important and I wish we are not just rushed through it as it might affect our placement too,” he added.
Megha G, a Class 12 student at VidyaGyan BulandShahar and resident of UP’s Jallon village, is studying humanities. But her geography exam has been postponed. She had aimed to apply to study abroad and now thinks her application will be affected due to the ongoing global uncertainty.
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“I am currently very confused. We were taken aback when we got to know that exams have been postponed. I had interviews lined up for admissions, these too have been cancelled. The new exams will be announced after March 31. Now, I am confused if I should spend time with my family or continue studies. I am unable to prioritise,” she said.
In Chennai’s SRM University, Mansura Syed, a third-year student from Salem, thinks we are all in this together. “Though I was very eager to graduate and start working, I am also happy that I got free time with my family before that. This might affect our placements and push our deadlines a bit, but this is happening to everyone and we are not alone in this. It is the time to realise our dream of ‘Netflix and Chill’. The more we stress about it, the bigger the issue will become. It is a global scenario and will pass if we are together in this.”
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